Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wierd sisters, wacky accents, and a poem so good its like nitrius oxide

It’s Poetry Thursday and I offer to you another selection from my favorite anthology, Poetry Speaks to Children. This one is beloved by both my kids, but especially by Seconda who holds it so dear that she has ripped the page that features this poem to shreds.

Every time she opens the book to this, her favorite page, taped back together is four different places, she does the same routine. First she shrieks, “Oooooh Isabel!! It’s my FAVORITE!” Then she makes her faux-sad face and says, “I hope I didn’t rip it!” Like someone’s been slipping her, too, AmbienCR on the sly and she’s performing strange acts of destruction at night that she has no knowledge or memory of. My daughter is what Shakespeare liked to refer to as a “weird sister.”

So here is Odgen Nash’s “Adventures of Isabel.” It is almost a crime to post this without a recording of Nash reading it because he has got, hands-down, the best poetry reading voice in the history of mankind. He was raised in Rye, NY and Savannah, GA and I can’t tell where the hell his accent is from, kind of a Louisiana/ Boston blend with a pinch of wacky thrown in. But with his accent the title sounds like “The Ahhhd-vaaan-tures of Isabaaaal.” It is so friggin’ delightful to hear him describe how she met an enormous “bea-yare” – seriously, its like taking nitrous oxide. But here’s the text to start. Read it to your kid. I think besides being funny it’s got a healthy dose of grrrrrl power.

Adventures of Isabel
By Ogden Nash

Isabel met an enormous bear,
Isabel, Isabel, didn't care;
The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
The bear's big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I'll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry.
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.
Once in a night as black as pitch
Isabel met a wicked old witch.
the witch's face was cross and wrinkled,
The witch's gums with teeth were sprinkled.
Ho, ho, Isabel! the old witch crowed,
I'll turn you into an ugly toad!
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
Isabel didn't scream or scurry,
She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
But she turned the witch into milk and drank her.
Isabel met a hideous giant,
Isabel continued self reliant.
The giant was hairy, the giant was horrid,
He had one eye in the middle of his forhead.
Good morning, Isabel, the giant said,
I'll grind your bones to make my bread.
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She nibled the zwieback that she always fed off,
And when it was gone, she cut the giant's head off.
Isabel met a troublesome doctor,
He punched and he poked till he really shocked her.
The doctor's talk was of coughs and chills
And the doctor's satchel bulged with pills.
The doctor said unto Isabel,
Swallow this, it will make you well.
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She took those pills from the pill concocter,
And Isabel calmly cured the doctor