April 22, 2012

With Apologies to Don Marquis

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This is going to be my last column for The Sun. I hope that my columns have been enjoyable, thought-provoking and not excessively insufferable over the course of this year. I had originally intended to close out the year with some big profound statement about the meaning of life or the purpose of education or something like that, but when I opened up my computer today I found that my column was, bizarrely enough, already written. What greeted me was a page of uncapitalized free-verse poetry, followed by a short note reading simply “see if the university crowd likes this — a. iii.” I have no idea who or what this piece’s mysterious author is, but it somehow felt wrong to not let them get their work out into the open. If the author is who they say they are, it’s somewhat unlikely that they will be able to read their work in print, but still, I hope their message can reach someone who needs it.

does the poetic urge lie in the genes or does it in the soul my soul has been passed around bandied about bartered i once was a vers libre bard so were my dad and my granddad my granddad s soul was transmitted to the body of a cockroach and so was mine i don t know what happened to my dad s maybe a wood louse this green ivy league life is not what a roach is used to though there are plenty of crumbs you college kids and your cheetos doritos and the like not as if i m complaining the air is fresh and the soil is damp and there are plenty of dark warm places to crawl into today i met a caterpillar who said to me that he was a person of some importance that there was no low hanging leaf safe from his incisors that the trees of ithaca were scarred forever from his culinary adventures but he also confided in me he was worried all of the caterpillars who had previously held his title had mysteriously disappeared was there some sort of caterpillar killer on the loose some young upshot jealous of fortune and fame perhaps i hadnt the heart to tell him the day before i d met a butterfly who had told me in her youth she used to fancy herself queen of all the leaf eaters butterflies and you folks may be drawn to fluttering around high places but not me i prefer to stay where the soil is moist and the crumbs are plenty i couldnt tell you why i thought it would be a good idea to hop among all these keys or to think that a poor little roach had anything to a bunch of educated types but here i am

— archy iii

Could it have been that a cockroach crawled up to my room in the middle of the night and, by jumping on the keys, typed out a work of free-verse poetry? It certainly isn’t unheard of. In the 1910s and 20s, a New York Evening Sun columnist named Don Marquis published what he claimed was the poetry of a cockroach that typed by jumping on the keys of his typewriter — a cockroach who, curiously enough, was named Archy. Perhaps that original Archy was the granddad that our mysterious poet spoke of, and the “archy iii” that left this poem on my desktop was simply following in his ancestor’s footsteps. All I know is that the little fellow was much more eloquent than I ever could be. I think it’s good, then, that I close out my time as a columnist with a message from someone like Archy III. It’s good to remember that, no matter how big we think we are, we aren’t far from being insects. Furthermore, if we realize this, maybe we can realize that insects have something to tell us, even if they can’t work the shift key on the keyboard. It’s been wonderful writing for The Sun over this past year, and I hope everyone has a great summer! And next time you see a cockroach, take a minute before breaking out the Raid to ask him if he’s written any poetry lately.

Aidan Bonner is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at abonner@cornellsun.com. The Weather Report appears alternate Mondays this semester.

Original Author: Aidan Bonner

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