?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Too late for national poetry month, but ... - Accretions

Fata Morgana
2004-05-26 16:41
Too late for national poetry month, but ...
Public
chipperchipper
Here's a lovely riddle-poem that I rediscovered while perusing my high-school poetry book. Can you solve all of the riddles?

A Martian Sends a Postcard Home

Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings -

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.

Mist is when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on ground:

then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper.

Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the property of making colours darker.

Model T is a room with a lock inside -
a key is turned to free the world

for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed.

But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience.

In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up.

If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep

with sounds. And yet, they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.

Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room

with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone's pain has a different smell.

At night, when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs

and read about themselves -
in colour, with their eyelids shut.

- Craig Raine, 1979
Comment | 12 Comments | | Link






Ping
zestyping
2004-05-27 01:22 (UTC)
(no subject)
I don't see the puzzle, alas. I've stared at it for a while but haven't noticed any patterns yet.
Reply | Thread | Link



(Anonymous)
2004-05-27 01:33 (UTC)
spoilers...
Ping,

It's a series of obscure allusions and weird descriptions of everyday life. You know, like the Nacerima
http://www.stanford.edu/~davidf/nacirema.html
or "Motel of the Mysteries" by David Macaulay.

Thus:

"But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience."

A clock, or a wristwatch.

"At night, when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs
and read about themselves -
in colour, with their eyelids shut."

That is, people sleep together and dream.

Not sure I get much more of it, I'm afraid...
Reply | Thread | Link



torpeytude
sbtorpey
2004-05-27 02:58 (UTC)
I love this poem, and I haven't seen it in ages!
but I believe the 3rd line begins with "they," not "the," no?

In any case non-English geeks may find it useful to know that William Caxton was the first major printer of books in English.

I'm not going to include spoilers, but I will say that most of it does not require any obscure knowledge— and that the line I really _don't_ get (at least this time around) is "Rain is when the earth is television."
Reply | Thread | Link



Fata Morgana
chimerically
2004-05-27 22:51 (UTC)
Re: I love this poem, and I haven't seen it in ages!
Thanks! Fixed.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Gaia
temperategoddss
2004-05-28 05:37 (UTC)
Re: I love this poem, and I haven't seen it in ages!
I think the following line clears the reference, though, indicating that the colors of reality are darkened by rain as it is by television ("It has the property of making colours darker."); rain naturally dyes everything a few shades darker when it soaks in... Neat!
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Fata Morgana
chimerically
2004-05-28 17:45 (UTC)
Re: I love this poem, and I haven't seen it in ages!
Also, falling rain somewhat resembles the static on a television - it makes the world look pixellated.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Gaia
temperategoddss
2004-05-28 17:51 (UTC)
Re: I love this poem, and I haven't seen it in ages!
WOW! Didn't see that one, neat!
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Gaia
temperategoddss
2004-05-28 05:38 (UTC)
Re: I love this poem, and I haven't seen it in ages!
And, I guess I should add, television seems to alter the colors of reality as well, though I am at a loss as to whether or not colors are darkened or not by television.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Gaia
temperategoddss
2004-05-28 05:32 (UTC)
(no subject)
Well here's my two-cents:

>In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up.

If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep

with sounds. And yet, they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.

It's a telephone! Think about it...

>Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room

with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone's pain has a different smell.

It would seem that the young are allowed to express their emotions openly, but adults often behave "stoically", experiencing their own pains in life privately... reference to "water but nothing to eat" mystifies me, but one could interpret it as the appetitelessness that goes along with emotional upset and stress? Dunno...

>Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings -

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.

I would say these would be books perhaps? That's my thought on it.

Hurray for fun poems!
Reply | Thread | Link



Fata Morgana
chimerically
2004-05-28 17:47 (UTC)
(no subject)
Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room

with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone's pain has a different smell.


Hmm ... I think it refers to sleep, and "suffer the noises" maybe refers to snoring. :~) I'm not sure about the pain and the different smell.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



(Anonymous)
2004-06-10 06:46 (UTC)
hazarding a guess
a bathroom?
young can do it in public (in diapers)
water but no food
noises = toilet flushing, etc.?
smell?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Fata Morgana
chimerically
2004-06-22 17:34 (UTC)
Re: hazarding a guess
Ah, interesting! That sounds more likely than sleeping. Thanks!
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



browse
my journal
September 2013