Friday, September 22, 2006

A White Elephant

n's comments to my earlier post made me think of this lovely little Gilbert poem:

When the King of Siam disliked a courtier,
he gave him a beautiful white elephant.
The miracle beast deserved such ritual
that to care for him properly meant ruin.
Yet to care for him improperly was worse.
It appears the gift could not be refused.

- Jack Gilbert, 'In Dispraise of Poetry'

Gilbert is turning out to be my poet of the month, by the way. I especially love his shorter poems, the lightness of touch with which he manages to express a difficult idea, the almost Zen quality of his work. I'm reminded, some times, of Carver, only Gilbert is so much more concise.

This poem comes from the collection: Monolithos: Poems, 1962 and 1982.

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5 comments:

n said...

oh. this is a lovely poem. So much complexity and just six lines. This fcourse, centres round the idea of 'honour', but it has the same sense of having to do something, wanting to do something, tho u are aware of what it will lead to.
I must read some Gilbert. I loved the earlier poems you quoted, and then some that Ash put on her blog after that. thank you.

n said...

see, from the poem Ash posted
Failure abd Flying

"Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.

I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph."

another overreacher.

Falstaff said...

n: Ah, yes, the failing and falling poem - more on that one on Poi-tre shortly.

n said...

will look out for that

Murdock said...

James Emanuel is another great poet who has been largely overlooked... i just found him through another blog... and glad i did.