Saturday, July 16, 2011

Poem In Your Post Blog Hop: Famous

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,  
which knew it would inherit the earth  
before anybody said so.  

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds  
watching him from the birdhouse.  

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.  

The idea you carry close to your bosom  
is famous to your bosom.  

The boot is famous to the earth,  
more famous than the dress shoe,  
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it  
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.  

I want to be famous to shuffling men  
who smile while crossing streets,  
sticky children in grocery lines,  
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,  
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,  
but because it never forgot what it could do.

                                            - Naomi Shihab Nye

I first encountered this poem when participating in the National Endowment for the Arts' program Poetry Out Loud with my students.  This is one of three I chose to memorize three years ago and I still carry it around inside me and trot it out from time to time. 

For her biography and more wonderful poems, try her page on  She's truly a writer worth listening to and reading, as she offers many insights about her craft in numerous forums.

How about you?  Have you memorized any poems, or parts of poems?  Which poems would you like to tote around inside you, instead of in your pocket, even if you haven't quite found the time to memorize them yet?  Alternative:  Any poem you wrote or enjoyed reading is fair game for your post, so don't be shy!

Post your link here any time this weekend, then make sure to link back to this post so that your followers and visitors can find our hop! 

As always, please support the poets who change us with their art.

See you next week, and happy hopping!



Enbrethiliel said...


Wow! This poem is fantastic!

It certainly makes one think of fame as something other--something sweeter--than what media coverage of celebrities has conditioned us to think.

I think my favourite image is that of the bent photograph: famous to one and practically a secret to another.

Jo said...

Very cool poem -- thanks for sharing!!

parrish lantern said...

There are several that spring to mind, but I've chosen this one as it always puts a smile on my face.

The History Teacher - Christy Brown

How shall I ever face her--
How can I disguise
The longing to embrace her,
The unwise knowledge of my eyes?

To burrow in mouldy, old books
Devised for the mind's high learning,
When I can't forget her good looks
And the heart in me that's burning!

O strength! Let me be able
To master my amorous seizure,
While Cleopatra sits at my table
And talks on and on about Caesar. . .

Laurie said...

Yes: That brought a smile, an openness, PL. Nice complement to "Famous". How do you find all these wonderful poems? I just discovered the International Poetry Web and can't believe it's taken me so long...
J, E: I love the concrete quotidian spin Nye puts on fame, and I personally embrace her final stanza. How about y'all?

Enbrethiliel said...


I wasn't going to say anything about the last stanza, but since you asked . . .

I'm feeling awfully vain at the moment, I'm afraid! =P It takes great humility to aspire to the fame of a buttonhole, and I don't think I'm there yet!

parrish lantern said...

Hi Laurie, It's a combination of a large collection of Anthologies & poetry books, also various websites some of which are at the bottom of the Natty hat comp post on my blog, although I'm in the process of attempting to organise a page with such info.
I don't know if you know but the author christy brown was the subject of a film " My left foot" based on his autobiography.

viagra online said...

incredible poem, do you have something about hate and distress ? they are my favorite themes.

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