Monday, February 02, 2009

Famous: For the Fourth Annual Bloggers Silent Poetry Reading

Prompted by Bee, I herewith offer the following poem in honor of the Fourth Annual Bloggers Silent Poetry Reading:

--Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

I've posted the poem before, but asked to single out a poem (and despite the fact that Carl Sandburg is the official poet of this blog), I realize that "Famous" is the one I come back to again and again. It's probably as close to a credo as I have.


Anonymous said...

That is a lovely credo. And, insofar as I can claim to know this, it sounds like you.

Brave Sir Robin said...


You are famous to me.

Bee said...

Nye is one of my absolute favorites -- and this poem is such a good example of her work. The words are deceptively simple, and her poetry always has a very humane quality to it. (Do you know what I mean?) She seems very clear-eyed and kind. I also like the way she overturns the word "famous" -- which has come to have mostly negative associations, I think. We are all essential and important to someone or something.

I'm sorry that I am just finding this . . . you should have left a little note/comment for me to let me know!

Bitty said...

I am just now finding your comment, Bee!

When time is short, blogging efficiently is the first thing to go!