A Case of Nerves at the Armadillo Hair and Nail Salon
"The One You Told Me About"

Apologies to Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss

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shakeseuss sonnet

When I consider every thing that grows
One fish two fish red fish blue fish
Holds in perfection but a little moment
Black fish blue fish old fish new fish
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
This one has a little star
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment
This one has a little car
When I perceive that men as plants increase
Say! what a lot of fish there are
Cheered and check’d even by the self-same sky
Yes. Some are red and some are blue
Vaunt their youthful sap, at height decrease
Some are old and some are new
And wear their brave state out of memory
Some are sad. And some are glad
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
And some are very, very bad
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight
Why are they sad and glad and bad?
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay
I do not know. Go ask your dad
To change your day of youth to sullied night
Some are thin. And some are fat
And all in war with Time for love of you
The fat one has a yellow hat
As he takes from you, I ingraft you new
From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.

*****

This work is a combination of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 15 and an excerpt from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, the classic children’s book by Dr. Seuss. A spin on two of the late Bernadette Mayer’s writing experiments, the poem is now 28 lines long. I removed the end punctuation, except in a couple of places, to open up the possibilities of interpretation. I am also assigning the pronoun “they” to the speaker. As I noted in a more academic explanation (for the class in which I originally wrote this), "The [combined poem's] speaker is prone to overexplaining."

Yes, it is silly. Some of the inadvertent combinations work well, like "When I perceive that men as plants increase/Say! what a lot of fish there are," and some not so much. It's super fun to play around with, though.

The Poetry Friday roundup for December 8th is at Patricia J. Franz's blog, Reverie.

Photo by ST. Detail from a new mural by @keydetail in Bridgeport, CT.

Comments

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I'm going rogue and wondering if, although you wrote it another time, it doesn't fit the world as we are living it now, a veritable mish-mash of life with its tragedies and its triumphs? It is an interesting experiment!

This is brilliant! Oh, my goodness...how fun to create and fun to read. I have GOT to give this a try. Thanks for the link. I mean...this is just so cool! No apologies to either artist needed.
"That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
This one has a little star
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment"

And the photo is perfect! This post is going to stay with me all day.

What a fun juxtaposition! It reminded me of a sitcom where two characters are talking over each other, neither one wholly listening to what the other person is saying. Shakespeare and Suess are a fascinating combination!

Linda B., it does fit these times, doesn't it! I hadn't realized that when I posted, but whew! what a year we've had.

Linda M., yes, I hope you do try it out. So much fun. I so enjoy when different work "talks" to each other. (In this case, I forced them to talk. ) Thanks for the nice words about the photo, too. It is a beautiful new mural that can be seen from a state highway in Bridgeport, CT.

Tracey, yep, our holiday meals are occasionally just what you describe. Ha! I've been working on and off for many years trying to get a better handle on Shakespeare, and this was fun to put together.

What a fascinating sonnet! So clever and imaginative.

Thank you, Rose! I enjoy seeing these two very different ways to use English bumping up against each other.

Love it!!! So clever, witty, erudite and silly all at the same time. Fantastic!!!

Susan, This poem is quite unique and fun to read. Thanks for letting me look at another side of poetic goodness.

Susan - This is so creatively jarring - I found myself reading and rereading to reinterpret both original texts, so it gave me new eyes/ears; I suppose, a reminder that life is always lived in context? That we can find new meaning in synthesis? Thank you!

Jama, Carol, and Patricia, thank you for reading! I am really fond of experiments and challenges. Patricia, I like your idea about "new meaning in synthesis."

Susan, this hybrid form that settles at the intersection of Shakespeare and Seuss is testament to your inclination towards experimentation and discovery. A most admirable exploration of possibility. May you continue to present as a risk taking poet. No doubt this was fun to 'make.'

What fun! And thanks for the link to the writing experiments. As long as I have that document on my desktop, I better never tell myself I don't have anything to write about!! Plus, the photo is PERFECT!

So much fun and provocation here, Susan! I love:

Say! what a lot of fish there are
Cheered and check’d even by the self-same sky
Yes. Some are red and some are blue

Wouldn't life be simpler if we could say that final line about people, acknowledging differences without wanting to hurt them? Sigh. Thanks for this laughter and also springboard for thought.

Hi, Alan, Mary Lee, and Laura! Thanks for your kind words here. Laura, I like those lines you singled out, too. What you say is so important: "Wouldn't life be simpler if we could say that final line about people, acknowledging differences without wanting to hurt them?" Amen. Mary Lee, I was so happy to find a blue fish in my pics. That was lucky!

Love this exercise! So clever!

Thanks, Marcie! I put this together for a free online course through Coursera & UPenn.

Wonderful, it's uncanny how some lines fit together. Good challenge and really encourages a different p.o.v. Love the fish image too, thanks Susan!

I loved seeing the Seuss lines next to those of Shakespeare! I used to read this Dr. Seuss book all the time with my sons. This is clever and so fun to read! Thanks, Susan.

I appreciate y'all stopping by, Michelle and Janice. When I wrote this, I was glad we still had a copy of "One Fish, Two Fish...!" It would be fun to do this with two contemporary poems, maybe even chosen at random.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mash-up. What fun to read aloud!

I'm glad, Margaret! Thanks for visiting.

I followed Linda's link back here, as I missed PF last Friday entirely. I LOVE this! My favorite bit:

Sets you most rich in youth before my sight
Why are they sad and glad and bad?
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay
I do not know. Go ask your dad

Ruth, I'm so glad you like it. Thank you! It's a fun experiment to try out.

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