Eugene Field |
When in the halcyon days of old, I was a little tyke,
I used to fish in pickerel ponds for minnows and the like;
And oh, the bitter sadness with which my soul was fraught
When I rambled home at nightfall with the puny string I'd caught!
And, oh, the indignation and the valor I'd display
When I claimed that all the biggest fish I'd caught had got away!
Sometimes it was the rusty hooks, sometimes the fragile lines,
And many times the treacherous reeds would foil my just designs;
But whether hooks or lines or reeds were actually to blame,
I kept right on at losing all the monsters just the same--
I never lost a little fish--yes, I am free to say
It always was the biggest fish I caught that got away.
And so it was, when later on, I felt ambition pass
From callow minnow joys to nobler greed for pike and bass;
I found it quite convenient, when the beauties wouldn't bite
And I returned all bootless from the watery chase at night,
To feign a cheery aspect and recount in accents gay
How the biggest fish that I had caught had somehow got away.
And really, fish look bigger than they are before they are before they're
When the pole is bent into a bow and the slender line is taut,
When a fellow feels his heart rise up like a doughnut in his throat
And he lunges in a frenzy up and down the leaky boat!
Oh, you who've been a-fishing will indorse me when I say
That it always is the biggest fish you catch that gets away!
'T 'is even so in other things--yes, in our greedy eyes
The biggest boon is some elusive, never-captured prize;
We angle for the honors and the sweets of human life--
Like fishermen we brave the seas that roll in endless strife;
And then at last, when all is done and we are spent and gray,
We own the biggest fish we've caught are those that got away.
I would not have it otherwise; 't is better there should be
Much bigger fish than I have caught a-swimming in the sea;
For now some worthier one than I may angle for that game--
May by his arts entice, entrap, and comprehend the same;
Which, having done, perchance he'll bless the man who's proud to say
That the biggest fish he ever caught were those that got away.
Rg Gregory |
(an ascetic poem for karen's birthday)
fancy having a birthday on a thursday
when you do the buying of the doughnuts
and others lick their sticky fingers
thinking good old karen letting
us share the eating of her birthday
not me of course - i sit at home (alone)
reflecting it is purification day
today and i do not have a doughnut
thank you karen for letting me have
a taste of self-denial on your birthday
and such a spiritual gain- in this way
you and i share the high-church position
while others lick the sugar off their lips
guzzling their souls away benightedly
with you great circe in your birthday play
luckily i have no envy of doughnuts
i sit here (alone) appreciating the pure
a step aside from doughy lust and greed
enjoying your birthday in its proper light
-a time of abstinence starvation longing
Anne Sexton |
I would like to bury
all the hating eyes
under the sand somewhere off
the North Atlantic and suffocate
them with the awful sand
and put all their colors to sleep
in that soft smother.
Take the brown eyes of my father,
those gun shots, those mean muds.
Take the blue eyes of my mother,
naked as the sea,
waiting to pull you down
where there is no air, no God.
Take the black eyes of my love,
coal eyes like a cruel hog,
wanting to whip you and laugh.
Take the hating eyes of martyrs,
presidents, bus collectors,
bank managers, soldiers.
Take my eyes, half blind
and falling into the air.
Take your eyes.
I come to the center,
where a shark looks up at death
and thinks of my heart
and squeeze it like a doughnut.
They'd like to take my eyes
and poke a hatpin through
Not just to bury
but to stab.
As for your eyes,
I fold up in front of them
in a baby ball and you send
them to the State Asylum.
Look! Look! Both those
mice are watching you
from behind the kind bars.