Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do not blow gentle . . .

Another album of poetry my parents bought when I was in grade school had a scratchy recording of Dylan Thomas reading "Do not go gentle into that good night." Unlike the Dickinson album, this one was a very powerful reading, almost sermon-like. It reminded me of the Baptist preacher we sometimes heard on the radio and giggled about . . . I would make up parodies, or almost parodies of the opening . . . Any command could become a parody.

Do not pick your nose or wipe on your sleeve
blow, blow into a handkerchief

Do not dip the pitchfork gently into the dung
stab it
and hurl it upon the heap


TC said...

Those are smashing (piercing? sniffling?) gestures of death-defiance.

I may have had that same record, if it's the one that also included such other startling moderns as Stevens ("The Idea of Order at Key West"), Bishop ("The Fish"), Eberhart ("The Groundhog"), et al.

Early assimilation must inevitably lead to parody, sooner or later. Probably early mischief is the best kind. At least the most innocuous.

These particular mischievous lines give rise to a striking association of nasal mucus with cow dung. One sees the hanky, in one's mind, as a useful all purpose receptacle for the various mischievous impulses.

(I believe that is perhaps what is/ was known as Surrealism?)

ACravan said...

This is basically terrifying -- an important aspect of parody to me. The only poet I ever heard read on a recording when I was young was William Butler Yeats reading The Lake Isle of Innisfree, which I found terrifying in a different way. My own favorite spoken word record (if you don't count Rex Harrison's speech-singing in My Fair Lady) was Basil Rathbone reading various Sherlock Holmes stories (including The Speckled Band) on disc. That was great. I wish I could hear it again. Curtis

Nin Andrews said...

I don't know what was on the record, but in all things I have a habit of replaying what I like, rereading, rewriting, rethinking one piece or line or page. So yes, there could well be other poems. And I am sure there were. And yes, I do remember hearing Yeats reading that poem, but much later. And it is terrifying.

I do love hearing people read aloud to me. But it is a such a different experience from the actual reading. Funny that way.

Lyle Daggett said...

When I was 14 (fall of 1968) a teacher showed me a few of Carl Sandburg's poems, and played a recording of him reading a few of his poems, and it was either later that day or later that week that I decided to be a poet and I started writing poems.

It took me a few years before I was sure I wanted to stay at it, but that's what got me started.

I've wondered now and then if I would have found myself provoked the same way if it had been a different poet I heard, say Robert Frost or Yeats, or T.S. Eliot or Dylan Thomas. No way of knowing at this point. Interesting, isn't it, was will set us going.