Lumpy pudding

Judging a poem is like judging a pudding or a machine. One demands that it work. Poetry succeeds because all or most of what is said or implied is relevant; what is irrelevant has been excluded, like lumps from pudding and 'bugs' from machinery. (Wimsatt & Beardsley)

Here we celebrate the excluded, lumpy parts of the pudding!

Feb 2, 2009 11:52pm
James Dickey (here shown in his cameo as the Sheriff in Deliverance):
BUCKDANCER’S CHOICE
So I would hear out those lungs,The air split into nine levels,Some gift of tongues of the whistler
In the invalid’s bed: my mother,Warbling all day to herselfThe thousand variations of one song;
It is called Buckdancer’s Choice.For years, they have all been dyingOut, the classic buck-and-wing men
Of traveling minstrel shows;With them also an old womanWas dying of breathless angina,
Yet still found breath enoughTo whistle up in my headA sight like a one-man band,
Freed black, with cymbals at heel,An ex-slave who thrivingly dancedTo the ring of his own clashing light
Through the thousand variations of one songAll day to my mother’s prone music,The invalid’s warbler’s note,
While I crept close to the wallSock-footed, to hear the sounds alter,Her tongue like a mockingbird’s break
Through stratum after stratum of a toneProclaiming what choices there areFor the last dancers of their kind,
For ill women and for all slavesOf death, and children enchanted at wallsWith a brass-beating glow underfoot,
Not dancing but nearly risenThrough barnlike, theatrelike housesOn the wings of the buck and wing.

James Dickey (here shown in his cameo as the Sheriff in Deliverance):

BUCKDANCER’S CHOICE

So I would hear out those lungs,
The air split into nine levels,
Some gift of tongues of the whistler

In the invalid’s bed: my mother,
Warbling all day to herself
The thousand variations of one song;

It is called Buckdancer’s Choice.
For years, they have all been dying
Out, the classic buck-and-wing men

Of traveling minstrel shows;
With them also an old woman
Was dying of breathless angina,

Yet still found breath enough
To whistle up in my head
A sight like a one-man band,

Freed black, with cymbals at heel,
An ex-slave who thrivingly danced
To the ring of his own clashing light

Through the thousand variations of one song
All day to my mother’s prone music,
The invalid’s warbler’s note,

While I crept close to the wall
Sock-footed, to hear the sounds alter,
Her tongue like a mockingbird’s break

Through stratum after stratum of a tone
Proclaiming what choices there are
For the last dancers of their kind,

For ill women and for all slaves
Of death, and children enchanted at walls
With a brass-beating glow underfoot,

Not dancing but nearly risen
Through barnlike, theatrelike houses
On the wings of the buck and wing.

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