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.