sloughed off ecdysis
underneath elegant sinuous presentation
Finally, after nine years
of snouting through darkness
he inches up scarred bark
and cuts loose the yammer of desire:
the piercing one note of a jackhammer,
vibrating like a slow bolt of lightning
splitting the air
and leaving a smell like burnt tar paper.
Now it says Now it says Now
clinging with six clawed legs
and close by, a she like a withered ear,
a shed leaf brown and veined,
shivers in sync and moves closer.
This is it, time is short, death is near, but first,
first, first, first
in the hot sun, searing all day long
in a month that has no name:
this annoying noise of love. This maddening racket.
This – admit it – song.
Poem: Margaret Atwood
Photo: Wil Hershberger, Annual Cicada Emergent
Swamp Cicada, Tibicen chloromea, sheeding
the last juvenile exoskeleton and emerging as an adult. Princeton, New Jersy, USA.
Damien Hirst Umbrella (black) – Limited Issue to holders of The Currency – HENI.
There are a few versions and variations of this rhyming couplet. The most common modern version is:
Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day.
Similar rhymes can be found in many societies, including ancient Greece and ancient Rome. The modern English language rhyme can be dated to at least the 17th century when James Howell in his collection of proverbs noted:
Rain rain go to Spain: fair weather come again.
A version very similar to the modern version was noted by John Aubrey in 1687 as used by “little children” to “charm away the Rain…”:
Rain Rain go away,
Come again on Saturday.
A wide variety of alternatives have been recorded including: “Midsummer day”, “washing day”, “Christmas Day” and “Martha’s wedding day”.
In the mid-19th century James Orchard Halliwell collected and published the version:
Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day
Little Arthur wants to play.
In a book from the late 19th century, the lyrics are as follows:
Little Johnny wants to play.
head down south
sand in strange places
Photo: Simon Bolz
One for the money, two for the show is half of a rhyme used as a countdown to begin a task. The entire rhyme is: one for the money, two for the show, three to make ready and four to go. Children have used this little poem since the mid-1800s as a countdown to starting a race or competition. A famous variation of the rhyme is found in the 1955 popular song Blue Suede Shoes written by Carl Perkins: “Well, it’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go.”
Feeling the Blue Suede?
Chill weather cuts the City
Red Biting Lips
Intrepid Trudging Prevails
Conserving warmth becomes a priority.
The Census-Taker ~ Robert Frost
I came an errand one cloud-blowing evening
To a slab-built, black-paper-covered house
Of one room and one window and one door,
The only dwelling in a waste cutover
A hundred square miles round it in the mountains:
And that not dwelt in now by men or women.
(It never had been dwelt in, though, by women,
So what is this I make a sorrow of?)
I came as census-taker to the waste
To count the people in it and found none,
None in the hundred miles, none in the house,
Where I came last with some hope, but not much,
After hours’ overlooking from the cliffs
An emptiness flayed to the very stone.
I found no people that dared show themselves,
None not in hiding from the outward eye.
The time was autumn, but how anyone
Could tell the time of year when every tree
That could have dropped a leaf was down itself
And nothing but the stump of it was left
Now bringing out its rings in sugar of pitch;
And every tree up stood a rotting trunk
Without a single leaf to spend on autumn,
Or branch to whistle after what was spent.
Perhaps the wind the more without the help
Of breathing trees said something of the time
Of year or day the way it swung a door
Forever off the latch, as if rude men
Passed in and slammed it shut each one behind him
For the next one to open for himself.
I counted nine I had no right to count
(But this was dreamy unofficial counting)
Before I made the tenth across the threshold.
Where was my supper? Where was anyone’s?
No lamp was lit. Nothing was on the table.
The stove was cold—the stove was off the chimney—
And down by one side where it lacked a leg.
The people that had loudly passed the door
Were people to the ear but not the eye.
They were not on the table with their elbows.
They were not sleeping in the shelves of bunks.
I saw no men there and no bones of men there.
I armed myself against such bones as might be
With the pitch-blackened stub of an ax-handle
I picked up off the straw-dust covered floor.
Not bones, but the ill-fitted window rattled.
The door was still because I held it shut
While I thought what to do that could be done—
About the house—about the people not there.
This house in one year fallen to decay
Filled me with no less sorrow than the houses
Fallen to ruin in ten thousand years
Where Asia wedges Africa from Europe.
Nothing was left to do that I could see
Unless to find that there was no one there
And declare to the cliffs too far for echo,
“The place is desert, and let whoso lurks
In silence, if in this he is aggrieved,
Break silence now or be forever silent.
Let him say why it should not be declared so.”
The melancholy of having to count souls
Where they grow fewer and fewer every year
Is extreme where they shrink to none at all.
It must be I want life to go on living.