Monday, December 03, 2012

Monday Poetry Stretch - Opposites

I picked up a couple of books  by Richard Wilbur at our fabulous used bookstore last week. One was THE POEMS OF RICHARD WILBUR (1947), and the other was MORE OPPOSITES (1991). Here's a bit of info from the jacket flap of the latter.
"Richard Wilbur, his wife, and their four children used to play a rather unusual game around the dinner table. One member of the family would suggest a word, and then everyone would join in a lively quarrel about its proper opposite." 
Wilbur's first book based on this game, OPPOSITES, was published in 1973. The poems in both volumes are a bit nutty, thoroughly entertaining, and downright clever. Here's one from MORE OPPOSITES.

The opposite of kite, I'd say,
Is yo-yo. On a breezy day
You take your kite and let it rise
Upon its string into the skies,
And then you pull it down with ease
(Unless it crashes in the trees).
yo-yo, though, drops down, and then
You quickly bring it up again
By pulling deftly on the string
(If you can work the blasted thing).

Here's a nice video of Wilbur reading a number of opposite poems.
So, your challenge for the week is to write on opposites. Leave me a note about your poem and I'll share the results in time for Poetry Friday.


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  2. THE

    opposite of fast is slow,
    opposite of stop is go,
    opposite of sit is stand,
    opposite of sea is land,
    opposite of fire is ice,
    opposite of mean is nice,
    opposite of left is right,
    opposite of day is night,
    opposite of south is north,
    opposite of back is forth,
    opposite of east is west,
    opposite worst is best,
    opposite of smile is frown,
    opposite of up is down,
    opposite of dog is cat,
    opposite of ball is bat.

    The opposite of opposite?

    Only answer I could claim
    is that they are both the same.

    (c) Charles Waters 2012 all rights reserved.

  3. Opposite

    The opposite of the noise
    you get from a marching band
    crashing like surf on a beach
    or the crowd in a giant stadium
    just after a goal is made—
    that mad joy of humanity
    shouting its life—is the sound
    of morning right after you wake
    and slip through the house,
    first one up, listening only
    to the words you will soon
    tap softly onto a screen
    in a near-dark room. And this
    is also the shout of humanity,
    the voice that will speak on
    longer than the last quiet breath
    of the one who wrote.

    —Kate Coombs, 2012
    all rights reserved

  4. Opposites

    When up is down,
    when white is black,
    when near is far,
    when front is back,
    when birds and butterflies
    all crawl,
    when jump rope bounces
    but not ball,
    when rain is dry
    and spit is, too,
    when being happy's
    known as blue,
    when soft is hard,
    when hard is silk,
    when wine is bitter
    just like milk,
    when night is light
    and day is dark,
    when every crow
    out-sings the lark,
    when in is out
    and fro is to,
    then I will not
    remember you,
    remember you.

    © 2012 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  5. Sketched down after attending a parent-teacher conference and noticing a certain ferocity hanging in the halls. There's an "opposite" relationship here, I think.

    Dogs, and Dogs
    By Steven Withrow

    Dogs from the meanest obedience schools
    Were seldom delinquents as pups.
    They learned laws of leashes, lashes and rules
    From pack-attack-alpha grown-ups.

    Dogs from the finest academies once
    Were gauche and unruly, uncouth
    And obtuse, as many a kennel-club dunce.
    What a shame how we tutor our youth.

  6. Steven--Heehee. I used to teach; good analogy! I learned teaching one on one, though, that the middle and high school pups were usually wonderful when not in packs. :)

  7. The Opposite Boy

    He sat down lengthwise as he knelt
    Upon the ceiling where he hung
    Right side up. From there he swung
    Motionless until he felt

    Night falling from the rising sun.
    He went to bath and took a bed.
    That’s when his mother Henry said,
    “Butter a book and read a bun.”

    He fell awake and sprang asleep.
    “Tonight’s the day I start to quit
    To do the same thing opposite!”
    (Which was extremely shallowdeep.)

    “I always tell the truth to lie.
    Good-bye, hello. Hello, good-bye.”

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  9. What fun. Thanks for the challenge!
    (I deleted my earlier post to edit some commas.)

    On Trying to Write a Poem About Opposites:

    eludes me,
    try as I might
    to fashion a poem
    that's not at all trite.
    My effort with opposites,
    try as I may,
    ends in

  10. How many?

    How many rainstorms
    does it take
    to widen puddles
    into lakes?
    And just how hot
    must deserts get
    before their cacti
    start to sweat?


    A buttercup
    in Lily’s lap
    is like
    a scoop
    of sun.

    A lily
    in a
    briar patch
    is butter
    on a bun.


    On soft warm earth,
    the sparrow swoops
    to nip a tasty worm.

    On cold wet snow,
    the reindeer stoops
    to taste a nippy fern.

    (c) 2011, julie krantz

  11. I wanted to let you know that though I didn't write a poem about opposites, I did introduce the game to my kids and we've been having a lot of fun with it at dinner. Thanks for introducing it to us.