Harriet

Categories

Follow Harriet on Twitter

About Harriet

Blogroll

Poetry News

An ode cephalopods

By Harriet Staff

Over at the Kenyon Review blog, poet and former Typing Explosion star Sierra Nelson explains why Cephalopods (crustaceans belonging to the phylum mollusca such as octopus, squid, and cuttlefish) are sublime beings that test our capacity for wonderment. Turns out, they can mimic, change color and texture, and even glow! As one of the founders of the Cephalopod Appreciation Society, Nelson is responsible for gathering Cephalopod-lovers together each year to muse on mollusca.  Here she explains why they “capsize our imagination” and inspire poems like this one by James Merrill:

from “The Octopus”

There are many monsters that a glassen surface
Restrains. And none more sinister
Than vision asleep in the eve’s tight translucence.
Rarely it seeks now to unloose
Its diamonds. Having divined how drab a prison
The purest mortal tissue is,
Rarely it wakes. Unless, coaxed out by lusters
Extraordinary, like the octopus
From the gloom of its tank half-swimming half-drifting
Toward anything fair, a handkerchief
Or child’s face dreaming near the glass, the writher
Advances in a godlike wreath
Of its own wrath. Chilled by such fragile reeling
A hundred blows of a boot-heel
Shall not quell, the dreamer wakes and hungers . . .

(Also, some lobster wonder:

)


Posted in Poetry News on Friday, August 13th, 2010 by Harriet Staff.