Wednesday, October 21, 2009

TC: Lullaby for Cuckoo


Did you suffer, or was it just the one who made you?
Little bird, deluded or self-deluded,
Close your eyes, and let these chirps resound
Mechanically. Was vision the clue you lacked,
When emerging from the works you sang sweetly
Of midnight, though it was purple noon
And purple riot ran through you, while
The big hand batted and rocked around
The clock, and you alone had time for me?
Or was homo faber the missing link
Who forged you in his workshop of stupid toys?
Either way, the little hand is catching up,
The door is opening; you aren’t coming out.

Cuculus canorus: from Neumann, Naturgeschichte der Vögel Mitteleuropas, 1905
Early cuckoo clock, Black Forest, 1760-1780 (Deutsches Uhrenmuseum, Furtwangen)


Anonymous said...

Oh this is surely a 'lullaby' But in it's sweetness there is much sadness too, I am thinking.
I am getting use to reading you Thomas and how this way of employing all those 'Caps' does seem to work!

TC said...


With this one the Caps on the heads of the lines were definitely meant to let them know I am minding their individual identities, each in its way as singular as yours or mine (though perhaps I am more of a Cap wearer than you, among my phobias is a fear of letting my head go naked into the night, or for that matter, if this embarrassing admission of a terror of cranial vulnerability is to be complete, the day either... well I expect you knew this already, having been involuntarily exposed to the photographic evidence).

About the sweet sadness, yes, I can't help feeling the occasional wisp of compassion for old fashioned mechanical toy things like cuckoo clocks. Latterly much to-do has been made about those hypothetical oh-so-smart human-programmed "artificial intelligences", but I haven't yet seen one that could touch the heart in that curious way that happens with an antique cuckoo clock when the little bird pops out to tell the hour. I imagined one of those mechanical cuckoos, after years of casual mistreatment and benign neglect, being in a a bit of a sulk and doing a Greta Garbo -- "I vant to be alone". And I thought: "It's about time".