Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"I Saw A Peacock With A Fiery Tail": Favorite Poems

I saw a peacock with a fiery tail
I saw a blazing comet drop down hail
I saw a cloud wrapped with ivy round
I saw an oak creep upon the ground
I saw a pismire swallow up a whale
I saw the sea brimful of ale
I saw a Venice glass full fifteen feet deep
I saw a well full of men's tears that weep
I saw red eyes all of a flaming fire
I saw a house bigger than the moon and higher
I saw the sun at twelve o'clock at night
I saw the man that saw this wondrous sight.


This is a kind of puzzle poem, a sort of lesson on the importance of punctuation. As you can see, it only has one period. But if you punctuate it with a period or a comma in the middle of each line, it makes perfect sense. ("I saw a peacock. With a fiery tail/ I saw a comet. etc.) It seems to date from the 16th or 17th Century. But the images that are generated are visionary.

"Pismire" is an old word for ant. The picture is actually of a Russian firebird, but fits well, I think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's really cool...I wonder if "pismire" is where the term "piss ant" comes from? No self respecting ant would ever try to harvest piss, like the term "sugar ant" denoting an ant that hordes sugar...