by Esca Webuilder

The bluebird of unhappiness, that twits all day and night,
does not like to be seen that much, especi’lly in pure light.
It tries to hide among the bushes of the golden mean,
but it is so far off of that, it easily is seen.
It likes a boggy acre where it often can be found,
among the flakes and other snakes it likes to fly around.
It hangs with tyrants, psychophants, and rude barbarians,
It loves to cancel kulch-ur, candor and contrarians.
Its sensors are so sensitive it censors honesty
in favour of intolerance and true duplicity.



In Poland: January 2021

“And when I look down at the crimson map,
I see the countless trains in permafrost,
and I see Frenkel, the star on his cap,
above the twenty million who were lost.”

—Leo Yankevich, “Naftaly Aronovich Frenkel”

by Ludiew E. Sarceb

The Polish nation wants a law to guarantee free speech;
they had it taken from them for a full half century.
The Nazis and the Communists killed millions of the Poles;
they took free speech away from them and terrorized their souls.
They want a law that says that censoring hate speech is wrong,
an evil that the nation had to live with far too long.
The Communists destroyed their land and killed their people too.
They do not want to go back to that horrid point of view.
Perhaps the Poles will be more free than we Americans.
They don’t want social media to censor… anyone.



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22 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    Mr. Wise once again at his best.
    Is there a better opening line than “The bluebird of unhappiness, that twits all day and night …”?

    • BDW

      In reference to the comments on the first line of “Twitter” by Mr. Tessitore of New York and Mr. Yael (southern address) of Tennessee, there is something extraordinary about the stylistic simplicity of that first line I can best explain through a music-history analogy. It is as if I have left the rich, Baroque, polyphonic music of Bach, and found myself in the Classical enlightenment of Haydn. The language becomes less intense, less intricate and less ornate, but becomes broader, more open and offers vaster vistas. There is a gain in easiness as opposed to denseness, that makes it nearly effortless to talk about almost anything. The first line is a plain statement of the subject followed by the second line’s predicate. It’s metaphoric and descriptive, but also straightforward and elliptic! Though I may come to find out differently, and others will definitely take up alternate vantage points, I think it’s where I need to be right now.

      • Yael

        For the record: that would be Mrs. Yael, or Ma’am, as I am a married woman. Born under the zodiac sign of Aries, I’m named after the wife of Heber the Kenite who is recorded in Judges chapter 4 & 5.
        Most English Bible translations spell the name J a e l (Strong’s H3278). Spelling it with the letter Y helps English speakers with the pronunciation.

      • BDW

        as per Israel W. Ebecud,
        to Ms. Yael:

        Forgive Wise for his ignorance, lest he end up like him,
        Sisera, with a tent peg in his head—and dead. Amen.

  2. C.B. Anderson

    The epigraph from Leo Yankevich was a nice touch. He sometimes wrote about how Poland is out of step with the sheeple inhabiting most of the EU, and that Hungary is just about the only other country in Europe that still has any pride in, and the will to preserve, its national traditions or even the idea of nationhood itself.

    • Joe Tessitore

      The Poles have been fighting forever, which makes you wonder who the joke is really on.

      • C.B. Anderson

        Read James Michener’s Poland, Joe, if you want a taste of that country’s stormy history in novel form. The sequence on the battle of Grunwald is especially interesting because it involves remnants of the Mongol Golden Horde, among others. It’s a good read.

      • Joe Tessitore

        Thanks for the recommendation, C.B. – I will take you up on it.
        I’m Polish on my mother’s side, Italian on my father’s.

    • BDW

      In my writing, so often had I gone to Eastern European and Russian literatures in the second decade of this New Millennium, that it is almost second nature to do so now [A poem of today drew heavily on Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We”.]. So many of the topics and approaches those Modernists and Postmodernists used seem particularly appropriate to this American living through Postmodernism and the New Millennium here in the USA. Mr. Yankevich’s poetry is a perfect fit for this docupoem relating to Poland, as he was American poetry’s best interpreter of Polish literature. One of the things I most admire about his poetry is its embrace of Modernism, while, at the same time, holding on to traditional English and Polish poetry.

      @SCP we are likewise fortunate to have Mr. Anderson’s PostFrostian, formalist poetry. less pretentious and of a higher quality than that of many of the New Formalists. His comment on Poland, of which its language Polish is part of the greater Slavic linguistic group, including Bulgarian, Serbian, etc., notes tensions in the EU. Part of Hungary’s national pride is due in no small part to Hungarian being linguistically isolated; so though Hungarian writers participated in the Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment, Romantic, Realist, Modernist and Postmodern movements, its individuality throughout those times remained pronounced.

  3. Yael

    Nice! Both poems are delightful to read. I’m with Joe T., I love the opening line of “The bluebird of unhappiness…”; that’s genius. I also appreciated the link to Leo Yankevich’s poem, as I had not read it yet.

      • BDW

        I appreciate Mr, Mantyk’s editorship, especially since my poetry is always in such a state of disrepair (due to changing words, typos, etc.) and flux. In this case, he miscorrected what should seem like a mistake in any text: “kulch-ur”, i. e., what is that hyphen doing in that place? Nicely, and immediately he responded to my concern. In all my years of writing, he is only one of two editors who is so exacting from the artist’s point of view. I am not an easy poet to deal with. The other editor is ever asking me if I mean what is on the screen: sometimes yes, sometimes no.

        I was glad Mr. Tessitore drew attention to the Poundian word, which does indeed work on several levels of meaning. Why I was so glad Mr. Tessitore mentioned it “a brilliant little spark”, is because I was trying something I had not done before. I tried to make a Fibonacci split in a tennos. in short, approaching the golden mean in terms of vowels, much in the same way that Twitter attempted (less successfully, I think) the golden mean in its logo design, which would be the picture I would use.

  4. Joe Tessitore

    I think that Mr. Wise is focused like a laser beam on the imminent collapse of freedom and the concomitant rise of evil, which I believe is now in blitzkrieg mode.

  5. Christopher Flint

    I too am enamored of your Twitter line 1 opening, but I would suggest using “tweets” instead of “twits” and strengthening its line 2 predicate.

    In line 2, to me, the unneeded apostrophe in “especi’lly” is awkward and the difficult meter tends to diminish the extraordinary power of line 1.

    Rather than…

    “does not like to be seen that much, especi’lly in pure light”

    …I would suggest something more like…

    “would rather not be seen and so will stay away from light.”

    I’m not promoting that line as a solution, only as an illustration of how more natural meter complementing line 1 would strengthen it even more.

    Your idea is extremely clever and you have some strong lines and sparkling word play.

    I think, however, dropping the bluebird from the last four lines diminishes the impact somewhat. “Sensors” points in that direction, but I think language more specific to birds would clinch the deal.

    Perhaps, for example, you could change the last line from…

    “in favour of intolerance and true duplicity.”

    …to something like…

    “To claw its own intolerance and wing duplicity.”

    Again, illustration. Not solution. I really think getting back to the bird somewhere near the finish would add a lot, but I’m likely a minority of one.

    Just thoughts. Liked the work.

    • BDW

      I tremendously appreciate Mr. Flint’s attention to my work, as I appreciate analysis over whether someone “liked the work” or not, as can be seen in the following, recent tennos:

      We Like
      by Esca Webuilder
      “…everyone must lose his mind, everyone must.”
      —Yevgeny Zamyatin, “We”

      We here are happy in OneState, bland, empty, open, round.
      We wear our faces at our phones in pageless books unbound
      We like our Benefactor’s smiley, MagicMountain Moon.
      We like his bland and empty face He is a GooGhoul Goon.
      We like how he controls our minds. He is beyond compare.
      We like him for his work in crushing freedom everywhere.
      We like the way he lies and tries to never tell the truth.
      We like how he destroys the lives of old, adults and youth.
      We like his company. He’s like a friend who’s always there.
      We like his Integral Community and barren stare. .

      One of the reasons I appreciate criticisms of my work, i. e. “improvements”, is that they allow the author a chance to explain his artistry. So now to Mr. Flint’s suggestions:

      A simple solution to L1 would be to change “twits” to “tweets”; however, “twits” offers unexpected thoughts and associations, and sets up the uneasy tone of the tennos.

      Mr. Flint is not the first person to reject my use of apostrophes. I can remember decades ago a Serbian semiotics professor who said I should allow the reader to make the alternate elisions and contractions desired; but it is my stylistic preference to use contractions. It harkens back to my days in Germany when I experimented with English and wrote it phonetically with additional symbols. In those youthful days I was propelled by German philosophy and music. Since those early days, however, I have rejected Noah Webster’s damage to the language, and the theories of playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).

      Again, I don’t think L1 is “extraordinary” except for the use of “twit”. In my docupoetry, which is but one subset of my poetry, the kind Mr. Mantyk most relates to, I am not seeking for that kind of normalization over individuation.

      Mr. Flint reminds me again why I so like the tennos. It has a folk quality to it that suggests to ordinary people that they could change the lines. For me that is one of the most exciting things about the tennos, the dodeca, etc.

      Mr. Flint also suggests alterations to the last four lines; but I don’t want to “clinch a deal”; though that might be what the crude people who run Twitter might want. I think Ms. Erlandson more receptively picked up on the comic “pschophant” and the hissing, mechanical, “computeresque” alliteration I am suggesting, in line with classical Golden Age Latin literary taste. The change Mr. Flint suggests is not at all what I want in L10 either; for there I want a very pure abstract line untainted by imagery.

      Even though, I cannot concur with a single change Mr. Flint suggests, he has shown more poetic analysis than most on the Internet. In addition, to wishing there was more of that @SCP, I also wish commenters could bring in World literature’s traditions in their analyses. In light of that, I appreciate Mr. Anderson’s simple mention of Postmodernist Michener’s “Poland”. You take what you can get!

  6. Christopher Flint

    Only a very foolish, admittedly ordinary, minority of one writes expecting to change anyone’s mind.

    The best we hope for is civil dialogue in the interest of others. I am grateful for your willingness to respond because your insight is far more valuable to @SCP than mine. In that spirit, I too respond.

    Regarding “twit”, I recognized the clever play, but I don’t consider most social media activity as merely attempts to lightly ridicule. To me, ‘tweet” is simply more accurate and more to your larger point. I, like Mr. Tessitore, found the phrase “bluebird of unhappiness” in line 1 striking.

    To the apostrophe, you appear to be the only @SCP author not roundly criticized in terms far more harsh than “awkwardness” for such literary styling. But it is indeed your privilege, which is why the tone of my opinion was far kinder than is typical in these pages. Your point of view will no doubt be refreshing to those elsewhere maligned, and I applaud it for that reason even as I disagree with the effectiveness of the practice.

    I recognized your abundant wordplay as “sparkling” because it is, as others have noted more specifically.

    I certainly respect your preferences both for metrical variety in general and also for “purity” in your final four lines. I hope our differences will cause others to reflect as much as we both have on the need to be comfortable with how the reader will react to the entirety of our work.

    Again, my sincerest thanks for the time you invested in responding

    • BDW

      It takes precious energy and time to critically analyze another’s poetry and prose; however, one gains from such a practice. Though many think Mr. Poe wasted time critically analyzing other poets, I think it was a good thing for his trochaic “Raven” and his intricate, compact short stories. Many, like 19th-century New England poet Mr. Lowell, thought Mr. Poe nasty in his negative critiques of Mr. Longfellow (though Mr. Poe evinced praise as well); but it hardened his own work. Poetically, I find Longfellow’s poetic work superior to Poe’s; though, for me, Poe’s criticism and prose seem superior.

      Though I admit to not agreeing with Mr. Flint’s critical analyses, I note that he did not agree with mine either. I am not sure, then, when he states that Mr. Wise’s “insight is far more valuable” to the SCP than his is.

      Twit is an example of ostranenie; tweet is not, in my mind, “more accurate”, because, for me, it carries less meaning. Contrary to Mr. Flint’s assessment, my apostrophes “have been roundly criticized by Mr. Anderson, Mr. Monty, Mr. Salemi, et al. So what. I want “especi’lly” to be an accentual amphibrach. Mr. Flint’s disagreement is, therefore, not as unique as he believes it to be. Though I support metrical variety, I disagree with Mr. Flint to think I used it here. Where specifically? He also mistook my comment about abstract purity; I wanted it only in L10; I wanted other than abstract purity in L7-L9.

      I also disagree as to how much analysis has actually occurred; for so much more could be said, and has not been said. As to how readers react to my poetry, I do not think this generation is very receptive to my work. I do not think I shall ever get to see that in my life time. But again, so what. C’est la vie.

      • Christopher Flint

        To the degree that you believe I have misunderstood you or failed to make myself clear, I sincerely apologize. Neither was deliberate.

        I was tryng to explain my positions, not object to yours, and to make the point that the value of civil dialogue is not in reaching agreement but in hearing and learning from rationales well expressed, whether accepted or rejected by other readers.

        Where premises are different and valid, so also in all likelihood will be conclusions reached by inarguably sound logic or on the strength of personal preference.

        I do think people benefit far more by hearing the author speak to a work than by hearing a commenter speak to it, because only the author knows the creative context in which style and language choices are enabled, and that is what will truly enrich reader experience. That to me, in this case, makes your comment far more valuable than mine. The only real value the commenter brings is raising consideration.

        Your use of “twit” has been well explained, and so has your preference for the apostrophe. I was mildly surprised that no one else took exception to the apostrophe here, but the history you cite clearly accounts for that. I should have researched your work and its comment history before seeming to allude to it, or made my remark much more clearly only with respect to the work in question, which in truth was my intent. My words were ill chosen in any case.

        My original comment about your meter was specifically with respect to line 2. But that, again, is opinion and I know your sense of that line and meter in general is not usefully debated. I was simply trying to explain my rationale for the change I suggested which took a different tack on meter there.

        My reference to your principle of “purity” referred only to its apparent application in your last four lines where you limited imagery to “sensors,” and I felt something more akin to birds (as I illustrated in your last line) would be helpful. And that was where you invoked “pure” in your reaction. My comment should have been much clearer.

        You have explained yourself well in all cases, and I believe @SCP has benefitted accordingly.

        If I have not been as clear, I will be ignored and should be. That is why I am very careful to assert my views as opinion where no fact is at issue, and why I disclaim my opinion as likely lone dissent. That, I hope, adequately characterizes its likely value and appropriate disposition.

        I am grateful for your responses.

  7. C.B. Anderson

    No apology is necessary, Mr. Flint. Your name alone should spark the necessary inflammatory response to what a majority of Americans have recently undergone.

  8. BDW

    Sometimes, I, too, am a little slow in understanding
    and explaining what a reader means. There is a metrical awkwardness to L2; but it is purposeful; and I could have explained it more thoroughly. Probably Mr. Flint found L2 awkward because it uses the lone spondee in the poem at its end. The expository opening couplet comes to an abrupt stop. For me it is like the final couplet of an English sonnet, that makes a firm statement; but right at the beginning of the poem. Like Mr. Flint, I, too, could remember Descartes’ dictum to be clear and distinct.

    L3 and L4 continue the bird imagery.

    L5 and L6 in a similar avian vein with help from Dickinson; but here the tone veers comically with the internal rhymed metaphoric language. My Fibonacci split was off! In L6, the word “with” should be “wi-th” and Pound’s “kulchur” should be without a hyphen.

    L7 and L8 move the poem with a rather more serious attitude that has left, as Mr. Flint notes, the bird imagery, its harshness expressed in the c/k alliteration.

    L9, again using overt alliteration, the hissing, electrical s’s moves to the strangely, latinate, abstract, negative qualities that Twitter supports, as the tennos concludes with the paradoxical “true duplicity”.

    But now, having come to the end of the poem, although I know it is an indictment against the censorship of social media, one of my major themes of the last decade, its point of view is such an odd one, and its vantage point so strange, it strikes me now, as a better poem than I thought it was. It makes me feel like I have fallen in to some artistic realm I am only now beginning to appreciate, like the following recent poem (cf. below), where birds appear in a more positive light. It makes me think I am right to use the tennos (dodeca, etc.) as a building block/brick in going forward with my poetic architecture.

    For me, Mr. Flint’s persistence has paid off with real poetic dividends.

    On a Sonata of Brahms
    by Ewald E. Eisbruc
    for Julian D. Woodruff

    They play together— violinist and the pianist,
    a spraying fountain shooting, splaying airward in a mist,
    so peacefully displaying pools and puddles rip-pl-ing,
    as birds there tipple dewy drops, aslant on supple wing.
    They preen themselves there at the gray edge of the plashing rain,
    and quake and quiver friskily again, again, again;
    they shake and shiver in the splashing, washing thoughtfully,
    a simple, dimpled act, a pause from searching constantly.
    And then enough—it’s time to fly—to go off—fluttering,
    dismounting the sonata, songless, soft, and scattering.

  9. Yael

    Israel W. Ebecud, Wise: I forgive you completely. Thank you for the funny bonus poem!


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