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Poetry and the Human Condition. Pt 5. Our Bodies.
Not celebrated during her lifetime, Dickinson is now an important literary figure
Poetry can often be more descriptive than prose
Poetry and the Human Condition. Pt 6: The Body.
It is not particularly common to find verse written about the human body and its functions in illness and health. We find quite a lot about the human mind and the soma and the soul. But as regards the meat and potatoes of the, well, the meat, not so much.
In the following poem, the poet imagines (or overhears!) the various organs of his body as they discuss 'his' not-so-benevolent treatment of them and what may soon happen if he doesn't smarten up his act!
"'Whatever is the matter?'
Said the Soma to the Soul.
'If he doesn't mend his ways,
They'll put us in a hole.'
'I've appealed to him with logic,'
Replied Unconscious Mind,
'I've a mood to have a coma,
But he's only loose his mind.'
'I think he's just neurotic,'
Came Lungs rasping breath.
'With all his other problems,
Of all thing, fearing death!
'As for me, I just can't wait,'
Spine wheezed; a weary groan.
'I can't prop him up much longer,
I'm only made of bone.'
'Me too,' agreed fat Liver,
'I'm feeling quite depressed,
Years of fighting alcohol,
I could really use a rest.'
'It's alright for you to talk,'
Was Stomach's sad refrain.
'If you all had my filthy job,
You'd have reason to complain.'
'I'll second that!' roared Colon,
With a rubb'ry, facile grin.
'We pass thirty pounds of fat a week,
And twenty pints of gin!'
'Consider me,' sobbed tired Blood,
'How would you like it, when,
You had to run a thousand miles,
Just to do it all again?'
'I've been clacking night and day,'
Was Tongue's guttural croak.
I'm dried, parched and pickled,
By his filthy cheroot smoke.'
'He keeps such lousy company,'
Came Ear's whisper, echoing.
'We both know, it's coming soon,
The final day of reckoning.'
'It's such a sin, my dears,' sighed Skin,
It's become a frightful chore,
Once I was a blooming rose,
Now I'm wrinkled, old and sore.'
'SILENCE, all of you,' blared Heart,
I'm tired of all your grumping.'
With that, he slammed-shut all his valves,
And finally stopped pumping!”
What a marvel is the human brain and the mind it contains. This incredible on-board computer carries on, day after day, processing information; remembering the past, allowing us to enjoy the sensations of the present and even assessing what the future may hold for us. Meanwhile, controlling all our movement, our dreams and our passions.
But when something happens somewhere in the brain’s dark recesses - such as a bubble bursting, the whole organism can go completely haywire. This is small poem (with help from Emily Dickinson) who was responsible for the first line, and the last couplet. Also an example of how the poet can deal with horror and make it humorous. (he hopes).
“A bubble burst within a brain,
Although the victim felt no pain.
He said, ‘Ooleyaleyloopaloo,’
Instead of, ‘Boss, how do you do?’
At lunch he had his usual beer,
But slowly poured it in his ear!
He left the office to a shout.
‘Hey! Your coat’s on inside-out!’
At the bus-stop, where he waited,
He dropped his pants and urinated.
The judge said, ‘Why did you do it?’
He said, ‘Gloobadoobadoodlesuet!’
His lobes were quickly cauterized;
The lad was institutionalized.
“For the brain’s a marvel running true,
When a bubble bursts, that’s all for you!”