Saturday, April 14, 2012

Casabianca: Poem In Your Post

Love's the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite `The boy stood on
the burning deck.' Love's the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.

Love's the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love's the burning boy. 

                         - Elizabeth Bishop

I stumbled upon this poem while listening to Howard Norman's novel What Is Left The Daughter.  Bishop's fast becoming one of my favorite poets, and her puzzle-play with sense-shifting repetition seems one of her hallmark traits.  

As we caper through National Poetry Month in the U.S., I'm issuing a throw-down to all you novelists out there: take Norman's lead and weave a few stellar poems into your prose.  You know you want to, so just do it.

And you, the (perhaps) not-a-novelist reading this:  Can you recommend a book that deftly uses a poem (or three) to refine its themes and/or illuminate its characters?  


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