Sunday, December 14, 2008

“bell” by Valerie Worth

After praising a poem by Abhilash Munnangi that proved to be plagiarized from a book by Valerie Worth I thought I ought to read Valerie Worth. After all, if I liked her poem when I thought it was written by a 7-year-old I ought to like her poems anyway.

When I saw one cross the desk at the library I picked it up. Worth writes an imagistic, skinny poem. She capitalizes the first letter of every line, which, when the line consists of a single word, can be an insistent visual choice. Oddly, the titles are never capitalized (the book designer’s choice?). Her books are marketed to children. The poems can be sophisticated; the poems can be simplistic. “Bell” is one of my favorites.


By flat tink
Of tin, or thin
Copper tong,
Brass clang,
Bronze bong,

The bell gives
Metal a tongue –
To sing
In one sound
Its whole song.


Sometimes the first stanza with its bell-sounds strikes me as so frontloaded it’s overbearing; other times I think, well, it sounds like bells, don’t it? It really does sound like bells.

The second stanza makes a metaphorical statement. The bell’s song is limited, but it sings with the commitment of its whole body and every word in its vocabulary. The bell sings its heart out.

source: All the Small Poems by Valerie Worth

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