Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

I Sing of Olaf Glad and Big

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April is National Poetry Month, and I plan to post one poem per day, every day this month (If you have a favorite poem that you’d like me to share, feel free to email it to me).

Today’s poem was suggested by a friend and long-time reader.

I Sing of Olaf Glad and Big

I sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelovéd colonel (trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but–though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the head
him) do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments–
Olaf (being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
“I will not kiss your fucking flag”

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but–though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation’s blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the first class privates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat–
Olaf (upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
“there is some shit I will not eat”

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ (of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.

— E. E. Cummings, 100 Selected Poems (Grove Press; 1994).


  1. #1 Bob O'H
    April 20, 2008

    Either you’ve missed a closed tag, or Olaf was bold too.

  2. #2 "GrrlScientist"
    April 20, 2008

    ha! cute.

    you are using a different browser than safari, since i can’t see that coding error. but hopefully, i will regain full use of my left hand soon, so i will not be making such simple mistakes.

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