Friday, November 02, 2007

Baby Skibitsky!

pregnancy week by week

Wonderful news: Megan and Jeff are expecting!

One of the things I'm looking forward to is painting with our grandchild. Fingerpainting with vivid colors on long sheets on what will become Christmas wrapping paper. And later, perhaps, learning to do more than that, myself. We can learn together which is one of the joys of having children, and grandchildren: one can relive one's childhood, consciously. Not manipulatively or with an agenda but just participating in the whole joy of life.

I've long thought that The Oxford Book of Children's Verse should have included some of Shakespeare's sonnets: From fairest creatures we desire increase, etc. A pregnant etc.

Also, there's the wonderful ontological category change: one's own child now becomes a parent, a peer, and we can talk more equitably. And pray for all with fervent joy.

Fetus is, of course, a good Latin baby name and one hesitates perhaps for more, not yet knowing appearance or personality. Still, there is the urge for the name. I've no preference myself, except for twins - how can you say such a thing, I think to myself! Anyway, to celebrate I think I'll type a poem, not about naming but it's relative, linguistics. And not by me, but Wystan Hugh Auden (when he was 62):

Natural Linguistics

Every created thing has ways of pronouncing its ownhood:
basic and used by all, even the mineral tribes,
is the hieroglyphical koine of visual appearance
which, though it lacks the verb, is, when compared with
our own
heaviest lexicons, so much richer and subtler in shape-nouns,
color-adjectives and apt prepositions of place.
Verbs first appear with the flowers who utter imperative odors
which, with their taste for sweets, insects are bound to obey:
motive, too, in the eyes of beasts is the language of gesture
(urban life has, alas, sadly impoverished ours),
signals of interrogation, friendship, threat and appeasement,
instantly taken in, seldom, if ever, misread.
All who have managed to break through the primal
barrier of Silence
into an audible world find an indicative AM:
though some carnivores, leaving messages in urine,
use a preterite WAS, none can conceive of a Will,
nor have they ever made subjunctive or negative statements,
even cryptics whose lives hang upon telling a fib.
Rage and grief they can sing, not self-reproach or repentance,
nor have they legends to tell, though their respect for a rite
is more pious than ours, for a complex code of releasers
trains them to walk in the ways which their un-ancestors trod.
(Some of these codes remain mysteries to us: for instance,
fish who travel in huge loveless anonymous turbs,
what is it keeps them in line? Our single certainty is that
minnows deprived of the fore-brains go it gladly alone.)
Since in their circles it's not good form to say anything novel,
none ever stutter or er, guddling in vain for a word,
none are at loss for an answer: none, it seems, are bilingual,
but, if they cannot translate, that is the ransom they pay
for just doing their thing, not greedily trying to publish
all the world as we do into our picture at once.
If they have never laughed, at least they have never talked drivel,
never tortured their own kind for a point of belief,
never, marching to war, inflamed by fortissimo music,
hundreds of miles from home died for a verbal whereas.

"Dumb" we may call them but, surely, our poets are right in assuming
all would prefer that they were rhetorized at than about.

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