Monday, February 25, 2013

Ode to Trilobites

I like to think of trilobites.
I like to think of all that time
Before pollution, war, or crime.
I like to think of trilobites.

Though man has reached such giddy heights
And scaled the lofty and sublime
I like to think, from time to time,
About the harmless trilobites.

A million billion days and nights
They trudged through their primeval clime
Happy with plankton, sun and slime.
I like to think of trilobites.

A hundred million gigabytes
Are not enough to pass the time
For primates in their mental prime.
I like to think of trilobites.

Though what I know of trilobites
Could be engraved upon a dime
I daydream of the good old time
When Earth was full of trilobites.


  1. I have been trying very hard (and not hard enough, as you can see) not to comment every time you put up a poem; they certainly deserve a better commentary than just, "Hooray!" which is all the inspiration I can usually muster (a fault, not of the poems, but of my own lack of eloquence--usually, no doubt, sorely overtaxed by the burden of chiseling a text on my phone) But I have returned to read this one so many times now, that I can't help it. So: "Hooray!" It is amusing, but it's oddly soothing, as well, especially the notion of the strange little creatures "happy with plankton, sun and slime," which has such a comfortable cadence to it. I can rather see this one becoming one of the jumble I carry around in my head to lean on in the more tempestuous moments (they are rare, granted) at work.

    I was talking to one of my relatives on Sunday and he brought up an interview in which he had heard a songwriter (I don't recall if a name was mentioned) speak of the importance of being humble enough to make one's ideas bow to the restraints of rhyme. It seemed a rather profound thought. Our conversation turned toward the modern proclivity of "expressing yourself," and the free verse used to do it. (I don't mean this as an out-and-out condemnation of free verse; I have indeed enjoyed some of it.) I may be both Philistinic and uncharitable in seeing nothing more than narcissism in a good deal of both modern poetry and songwriting--surely a fair modicum of the poet's experience has to seep through, if he is to be honest--but the idea that even inspiration should have the grace to bow to something higher, if only a hierarchy of rhyme, was fascinating to mull over.

  2. Aw, thanks so much. I also find the atmosphere I was trying to evoke in the poem soothing-- I don't think any poem should be purely comic and without some effort to be at least a little moving in some way, so I'm glad you saw a little bit extra in it.

    My views when it comes to rhyme in poetry are exactly the same as yours. I never thought of the idea that submitting to the requirements of metre and rhyme as humility, but I see now that it is. Well, I just think that rhyme is actually more SPONTANEOUS, even, than free verse. Children singing or chanting or murmuring to themselves will naturally use rhyme and metre.

    I was extremely anti-free-verse in my hot youth but I have become more tolerant in my mellow early middle age. In fact, quite recently- as a result of a dream, bizarrely-- I developed an urge to read a certain sort of free verse poetry and went hunting for it through the poetry shelves of my library. And I noticed a funny thing; free verse poets seldom quote EACH OTHER. When they want an epigraph to a poem, or a quotation to be inserted, it's usually from someone like Blake or Yeats or Larkin. Or it is from a popular song, or a ballad-- but it is pretty much always formal verse of one kind or another. I found that very telling!