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You think being the court poet, back in the kings-and-castles day, was an easy deal? Guess again.

April 21, 2014 by Reader's Connection

The Ogre's Wife

Ron Koertge’s “Occasional Poems” appears in his collection The Ogre’s Wife, and is reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.

That Red Hen link will take you to their website, and here is Ron’s website, where we learn that he was once told by a friend that he was “chronically immature” and ought to write novels for teenage boys.┬áSo he’s been doing that.

I think the poems in The Ogre’s Wife are intended for adults. I’m immature, myself, though, and can’t be sure.


Occasional Poems

Recently I wrote “I Buy Myself a Shirt” and “On Getting
Out of Bed.” That’s why it’s so great to be a poet today:
Everything is fair game. Basically I’m self-employed
with nobody to please but myself.

In the past, there was a court poet. He got out of bed, too,
and probably put on a shirt, but he couldn’t write about that.
His subjects were momentous: marriage, birth, death.

Take a royal wedding, for example. There sat the king
horny and bored, stuffed with peacock and swan. The poem
had to be perfect—part epithalamion, part bawdy limerick.

And nine months later, a poem on birth. For an heir,
an eclogue in Virgilian hexameters with references to
a golden age. For a girl, well—something pretty.
A song of praise but tempered with regret.

When it came to death, a lingering illness helped. Time
to strike just the right note. Black-clad parishioners
should nod and weep silently. The meter deliberate,
to match the tolling of bells.

Sudden death was the worst. News brought by horseback.
The messenger pacing in the courtyard, children shrieking
and taunting each other while upstairs the poet mutters
and chews his quill.

Do I have a lot of nerve, claiming that this poem is part my Year of the Horse festivities, just because the messenger arrived on horseback? Click on the horse for more.




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