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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Number 127: Rexroth exerpts from "A Bestiary"


The lion is called the king

Of beasts. Nowadays there are 

Almost as many lions

In cages as out of them. 

If offered a crown, refuse.


Someday, if you are lucky,

You’ll each have one for your own. 

Try it before you pick it. 

Some kinds are made of soybeans.

Give it lots to eat and sleep. 

Treat it nicely and it will

Always do just what you want.


The raccoon wears a black mask,

And he washes everything 

Before he eats it. If you 

Give him a cube of sugar,

He’ll wash it away and weep.

Some of life’s sweetest pleasures 

Can be enjoyed only if

You don’t mind a little dirt. 

Here a false face won’t help you.


The trout is taken when he 

Bites an artificial fly. 

Confronted with fraud, keep your

Mouth shut and don’t volunteer.


Let Y stand for you who says,

“Very clever, but surely 

These were not written for your 

Children?” Let Y stand for yes.

Hap Notes: Well, as long as we talked about Rexroth yesterday, I thought these might be fun for "Saturday Cartoon Poems." Rexroth wrote these poems (there's a whole alphabet of them), for his daughters Mary and Katherine.

The poems are full of Rexroth's wit and acerbic social criticism. They remind me a little of Ambrose Bierce's cutting satiric verse. They're also a bit like Thurber's Fables for Our Times which is a good read in its own right, although not verse.

The masthead pictures are from Grand Ole Bestiary:

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