Tag Archives: Elizabeth Bishop

Peninsular Poetry: fowl play

Peninsular Poetry is an occasional feature on this blog marking April as National Poetry Month.

We’ve written a lot about chickens here at the Kitsap Sun.

Turns out feathered fowl are popular topics with poets as well.

Twentieth Century poet Elizabeth Bishop, 1911 – 1979, talks about what the cock’s crow has meant throughout the ages in her lengthy poem, “Roosters.” Below is a snippet, and here’s the audio link.

“At four o’clock
in the gun-metal blue dark
we hear the first crow of the first cock

just below
the gun-metal blue window
and immediately there is an echo

off in the distance,
then one from the backyard fence,
then one, with horrible insistence,

grates like a wet match
from the broccoli patch,
flares, and all over town begins to catch. …”

I like Bishop’s use of language, but I think the poem could have been more concise.

Bantams in the Pine Woods” by Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955), I would say, is a good example of onomatopoeia, the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it. (Dang, I knew that college education would come in handy some day.) Listen to the poem to get the most mileage from it.

Here is a snippet:

“Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan
Of tan with henna hackles, halt!”

Does Stevens go over the top? You be the judge.

William Carlos Williams’ Red Wheelbarrow is a widely familiar poem. Williams lived from 1883 to 1963. The absence of capital letters seems to have been trendy.

“so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Williams’ “Red Wheelbarrow” is so familiar it’s become fodder for parody.

Here’s one by Jacob T.

Green Wagon

Nothings really special


the empty green


spotted with red


near the scrap


Or this, by Jay Scott

Homeland Security Advisory System
nothing depends

a red seal

phrases of high

on the blue
website ”

Oh, come on, folks, we can do better. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to write your own parody of “The Red Wheelbarrow.” Extra points if it has a local (Kitsap) angle.