"Whaling, 1835" by Granger‘American Incipits’ by Reid McGrath The Society September 12, 2017 Culture, Poetry 5 Comments AMERICAN INCIPITS Ishmael “You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him,” Genesis 16 11-12 I fathom that there’re names that could be worse… Some years ago—it doesn’t matter when— I found a dearth of dollars in my purse. Land-life was strewn with spider-webs of sin. I thought I’d sail about the water-world. What better way to circumvent the spleen? It’s quieter than suicide. Unfurled were whale-white sails. I wanted to feel clean. When I detect a grimness round my gob: a damp, drizzly November in my soul; or when I pew up with each mournful mob at Tom or Dick or Harry’s funeral— when I commence to displace peoples’ hats, or find barroom pugnacity a sport, it’s time for more aquatic habitats. Thus on Pequod I sailed out of the port. Huckleberry Finn The Widow Douglas took me for her son: She’d modify my manners, morals, dress… This indoor cloister is fit for a nun but not for me. I love the wilderness. I’d rather live a life out on the run: a rogue in rags; I have more fun with less. Nick Carraway When I was younger and more vulnerable my father gave me fatherly advice: “Son, do not judge. You’ve had it awfully nice. Be understanding and amicable.” In consequence, I’ve made a slew of chums: Ingenious chaps who’ve moved my intellect. But also bores and jokers, squares and bums, when staidly looking back in retrospect. I had this weird proclivity to please; they called me “Mayor” in that college town. She’d bat her eyes; I’d buckle at the knees. I couldn’t sleep if she evinced a frown. To flappers and great Gatsbys, I was drawn; nigh Kings and Queens, I played the placid pawn. Reid McGrath lives and writes in the Hudson Valley Region of New York. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 5 Responses Amy Foreman September 12, 2017 Reid, I consistently enjoy your poetry! And this time, your use of alliteration stands out– a fine example: “were whale-white sails. I wanted to feel clean.” . . . “She’d modify my manners, morals, dress…” Very nice, as always. Reply Joseph S. Salemi September 12, 2017 “Huckleberry Finn” is especially nice, since it maintains a clear ABABAB rhyme scheme throughout. You’d be amazed at how many poets can’t do this. Reply Reid McGrath September 12, 2017 Thank you both for your kind words. I can hardly think of two better poets to comment on my poetry. Since I pretty much compose all of my poems verbally, alliteration comes almost too naturally. I sometimes feel the need to tone it down. I’m glad you liked them though. The last line of ISHMAEL could be better. Reply Joseph S. Salemi September 12, 2017 Try this instead: “Thus on the Pequod I sailed out of port.” It smooths out the meter by starting with a dactyl rather than two trochees. Reply J. Simon Harris September 18, 2017 I really love all three of these poems. You’ve captured these characters perfectly, and your language is very fluid and natural. Makes me want to go back to read these American masterpieces again. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.