Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

‘Delicious stuff’—Halloween 2006


“Ghost Flower”

Fractal by Dzeni

Auckland, New Zealand

A Trenta-Sei of the Pleasure

We Take in the Early Death of Keats

It is old school custom to pretend to be sad

when we think about the early death of Keats.

The species-truth of the matter is we are glad.

Psilanthropic among exegetes,

I am so moved that when the plate comes by

I almost think to pay the god—but why?

When we think about the early death of Keats

we are glad to be spared the bother of dying ourselves.

His poems are a candy-store of bitter-sweets.

We munch whole flights of angels from his shelves

drooling a sticky glut, almost enough

to sicken us. But what delicious stuff!

The species-truth of the matter is we are glad

to have a death to munch on. Truth to tell,

we are also glad to pretend it makes us sad.

When it comes to dying, Keats did it so well

we thrill to the performance. Safely here,

this side of the fallen curtain, we stand and cheer.

Psilanthropic among the exegetes,

as once in a miles-high turret spitting flame,

I watched boys flower through orange winding sheets

and shammed a mourning because it put a name

to a death I might have taken—which in a way

made me immortal for another day—

I was so moved that when the plate came by

I had my dollar in hand to give to death

but changed to a penny—enough for the old guy,

and almost enough to sweeten my breath

with a toast I will pledge to the Ape of the Divine

in thanks for every death that spares me mine.

I almost thought of paying the god—but why?

Had the boy lived, he might have grown as dull

as Tennyson. Far better, I say, to die

and leave us a formed feeling. O beautiful,

pale, dying poet, fading as soft as rhyme,

the saddest music keeps the sweetest time.

John Ciardi  (1916-1986)

(Psilanthropic, a word Ciardi invented, combines the Greek psilos (mere) and anthropos (mankind) – that is to say, “merely human.”)


Posted by Julie on 10/31 at 11:51 AM
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