Thursday, April 17

Posted by Laurel Garver on Thursday, April 17, 2014 2 comments
by Donald Justice (1925 - 2004)
Papier-mache body; blue-and-black cotton jersey cover.
Metal stand. Instructions included.
   --Sears, Roebuck Catalogue
Photo credit: jeltovski at
              O my coy darling, still
              You wear for me the scent
         Of those long afternoons we spent,
               The two of us together,
    Safe in the attic from the jealous eyes
                 Of household spies
    And the remote buffooneries of the weather;
                         So high,
    Our sole remaining neighbor was the sky,
              Which, often enough, at dusk,
    Leaning its cloudy shoulders on the sill,
Used to regard us with a bored and cynical eye.

              How like the terrified,
              Shy figure of a bride
         You stood there then, without your clothes,
                  Drawn up into
         So classic and so strict a pose
      Almost, it seemed, our little attic grew
Dark with the first charmed night of the honeymoon.
         Or was it only some obscure
      Shape of my mother's youth I saw in you,
There where the rude shadows of the afternoon
         Crept up your ankles and you stood
         Hiding your s-x as best you could?--
         Prim ghost the evening light shone through.


An ode is typically an elaborately structured poem praising or glorifying an event or individual. Among English poets, Keats is considered the master of the form.

Justice, however, isn't glorifying something glorious. By writing an "ode" about a man's bizarre relationship with a dressmaker's dummy, he satirizes love poems generally. This is another instance of form/content dissonance that makes you pause, raise an eyebrow, and perhaps laugh.

What silly thing do you think would make a good topic for a satirical ode?

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  1. Ha, made ME laugh and raise eyebrows, but then, I'm zany like that. ;o) How about Ode to a Grecian Urn? No wait...that's been done already. Well, maybe ode to a slice of pizza. YUM! Great. Now I'm craving pizza...

    1. Go for it, Carol. I'd love to hear a lofty-sounding poem dedicated to the fuel of many collegiate all-nighters.