Monday, September 25, 2006

Shadows and Froog

Earlier this year I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover a favourite poetry anthology (the eccentrically eclectic 'The Rattle Bag', compiled by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney) many years after I had last seen it; many years after I had lost my only copy; many years after I began to assume it must have gone out of print. English books - outside of the 'World's Classics' series - can be pretty hard to come by in my strange adopted home: there is, in fact, only one really good, but fairly small, supplier in my city. Seeing three copies of this great book suddenly before me on the shelf, I was tempted to buy them all; but then I chided myself for such selfishness, and settled for just the one. Days later, the other two copies had vanished as well, never to be replaced, and I was rather regretting my altruistic forbearance.

Delighted as I was to have the book in my hands again, I couldn't shake the nagging conviction that at least two obscure poems I had particularly liked in the original version were no longer present. Is this a revised edition? Is my memory playing tricks on me? Is the Universe playing tricks on me? Aaaarrgghh!

Anyway, one favourite piece which was still there - not a phantom of false memory - was 'Games', a group of macabre 'nursery rhymes' by the Croatian poet, Vasco Popa.

I was inspired to attempt a number of pieces in a similar vein myself. Nothing quite as good as the original models, I fear, but some quite good, and this, I think, the best (shadows are always a good theme for poetry!):

The Shadow Thief

He thinks of himself as a collector
He likes shadows, collects them
He sneaks up behind people
When they're not looking
And snatches their shadows away

It is easy
People seldom look
At their shadows

He takes them home
Stores them in a cupboard
Steals and stores, steals and stores
Saves them for a sunny day

The shadows don't like the dark
They form a union
Plan an escape, break out
Together, they create the Night


Anonymous said...

Oh, how I really, really like this poem.

Froog said...

Wow, I think that may be the first time that anybody's ever said that about any of my poems - at least on here.

Well, no, to be fair, my one-time No.1 commenter 'Tulsa' was quite enthusiastic about a lot of my stuff. But no-one esle.

Gosh, CW, I'm almost blushing.