Friday, July 24, 2009
The animals rejected their names
The Animals Reject Their Names and Things Return to Their Origins (Margaret Atwood.)
It was the bear who began it. Said,
I'm getting out from under.
I am not Bear, l'Ours, Ursus, Bär
or any other syllables
you've pinned on me.
Forget the chateu tapestries
in which I'm led in embroidered chains.
and the scarlet glories of the hunt
that was only glorious for you,
you with your clubs and bludgeons.
Forget the fairy tales, in which I was
your shaggy puppet, prince in hairshirt, surrogate
for human demons.
I'm not your coat, rug, glass-eyed trophy head,
plush bedtime toy, and that's not me
in outer space with my spangled cub.
I'm not your totem; I refuse
to dance in your circuses; you cannot carve
my soul in stone.
I renounce metaphor: I am not
old garbage-eater, and you can stuff
simile also: unpeeled,
I am not like a man.
I take back what you have stolen,
and in your languages I announce
I am now nameless.
My true name is a growl.
(Come to think of it, I am not
a British headdress either:
I do not signify bravery.
I want to go back to eating salmon
without all this military responsibility.)
I follow suit, said the lion,
vacating his coat of arms
and movie logos; and the eagle said,
Get me off this flag.