japonisme: I turn to ducks

21 September 2008

I turn to ducks



——I turn to ducks,
Beautiful comic things
Sleeping or curled
Their heads beneath
white wings
By water cool,
Or finding
curious things
To eat in
various mucks
Beneath the pool,
Tails uppermost, or waddling
Sailor-like on the shores
Of ponds, or paddling
—Left! right! —
with fanlike feet
Which are for steady oars
When they
(white galleys) float
Each bird a boat
Rippling at will the sweet
Wide waterway . . .
When night is fallen you creep
but drakes and dillies
Nest with pale water-stars,
Moonbeams and shadow bars,
And water-lilies:
Fearful too much to sleep
Since they've no locks
To click against the teeth
Of weasel and fox.
And warm beneath
Are eggs of cloudy green
Whence hungry rats and lean
Would stealthily suck
New life, but for the mien,
The bold ferocious mien
Of the mother-duck.


YES, DUCKS ARE valiant things
On nests of twigs and straws,
And ducks are soothy things
And lovely on the lake
When that the
sunlight draws
Thereon their pictures dim
In colours cool.
And when beneath the pool
They dabble,
and when they swim
And make their
rippling rings,
O ducks are beautiful things!

But ducks are
comical things:—
As comical as you.
They waddle round, they do.
They eat all sorts of things,
And then they quack.
By barn and stable and stack
They wander at their will,
But if you go too near
They look at you through black
Small topaz-tinted eyes
And wish you ill.
Triangular and clear
They leave their curious track
In mud at the water's edge,
And there amid the sedge
And slime they gobble and peer
Saying “Quack! quack!”


WHEN GOD HAD finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion
little ones,
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made,
and then
He made the comical ones in case
the minds of men
Should stiffen
and become
Dull, humourless
and glum:
And so forgetful
of their Maker be
As to take even themselves—
quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns.
All God's jokes are good—
even the practical ones!
And as for the duck, I think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day he fashioned it.
And He's probably laughing still at the sound that came out of its bill.

Frederick William Harvey

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Blogger willow said...

"Ducks are soothy things"...I like that!

22 September, 2008 11:43  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i LOVE this poem. i almost used, "how do i love thee? let me count the ways...."

22 September, 2008 13:48  
Blogger belvedere beads said...

a particularly lovely post, thankyou.

24 September, 2008 19:03  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks you bb--so nice to see you.

and it's nice to learn there are other souls that are opened by ducks.

24 September, 2008 19:38  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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