Ginger

By Carl Rakosi 1903–2004 Carl Rakosi
Am I the only one
                           watching   
my neighbour’s
                      frolicksome goat,
Ginger,
            tied to a pecan tree?   
All morning
                  it has been examining
an empty bushel basket
                                  and has lifted
one leg delicately
                            like a circus horse
as if to roll it,
                           but whether to do that
or to butt it
                     with its small horns,
that is the question.
                                 Not of great moment,
no signing of the Charter,
                                        but like air music,   
quickest of the elements.
                                       Towards which I leaped!

In form
            its own grace,   
appearing,
                as it passed   
in retrospect, classical.

The real goat stayed,
                                 imperturbable,   
the body solid
                      as a four-square loom   
and delivered me
                         from abstraction.   
His coloring,
                     greyish-soft shades,
their dark and light
                        passing into each other   
as in an antique rubbing.

I now found myself
                            sitting so near,
my shade,
               as in the Inferno,
sensed his,
                  but he gave no sign
of my presence,
                        even when I stroked him   
and my heart leaped
                              at the gentle fleece,   
too fine for a hard life.
He continued nibbling
                                 on a dry bush.

I would not have believed
                                       unconcern
could bolster the man in me
                                          and be so enduring.   
Sic transit, not caring
                                    whether it is recognized,   
The Divine
                (from another age).

He was poking
                     into the underbush now
and reached across my head
                                        for the small spiny twigs.

At that the phase
                           changed
and a sensuous trembling
                                     hung in the air,   
as when a bee is about
                                  to descend
on blossoming clover,
                                 and I
felt myself being pulled
                                     as by a line   
from the invisible
                            other side
to enter goathood,
                            deeper than sight.

Carl Rakosi, “Ginger” from The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi (Orono: The National Poetry Foundation, 1986). Used with the permission of Marilyn J. Kane.

Source: The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi (National Poetry Foundation, 1986)

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Poet Carl Rakosi 1903–2004

SCHOOL / PERIOD Objectivist

Subjects Relationships, Pets

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Carl  Rakosi

Biography

The son of German Jewish parents, Carl Rakosi was born in Berlin in 1903, moving soon to Hungary following his parents’ separation in 1904. Immigrating with his father and stepmother to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1910, he eventually graduated from the University of Wisconsin (where he edited the literary magazine) and later earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. Rakosi’s involvement in the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Pets

SCHOOL / PERIOD Objectivist

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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