5.29.2007

Famous

Here is another favorite poem that didn't make my April poetry post collection.

Famous
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 the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole,
not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.
- Naomi Shihab Nye

4 comments :

  1. I liked this poem much better today. Yesterday when I read it, it didn't make much sense. Today, I remembered the use of famous and it made much more sense to me.

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  2. Many thanks for sharing this wonderful poem! Such homely, powerful images. I especially liked:
    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 just had that experience at the magazine rack last week. A little guy was standing next to his mom, I looked down and smiled at him. Then he turned to mom and asked why I smiled at him. She replied that it was a polite thing to do. Hmm. . .I wasn't sure what to think.]
    Anyway, thanks!

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  3. pinehurst: I was the same the first time. Then I taught it to my students. That helped me understand it. I like the last line. I forgot for so long I could write. Now I don't want to forget, thus the picture of the writer's desk.
    noni-I loved that verse also. There are those simple images that can make a day when peoplewatching.

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  4. What a lovely poem! Makes me want to teach it, too. Taking poetry apart and putting it back together so it makes sense to each of us is one of my favorite things to do as a teacher...

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