Thursday, April 04, 2002

I was sent the following excerpt from the work of Carl Sandburg in response to my comments about the lack of verse about sheep.

Thousands of sheep, soft-footed, black-nosed sheep--
one by one going up the hill and over the fence--one by
one four-footed pattering up and over--one by one wiggling
their stub tails as they take the short jump and go
over--one by one silently unless for the multitudinous
drumming of their hoofs as they move on and go over--
thousands and thousands of them in the grey haze of
evening just after sundown--one by one slanting in a
long line to pass over the hill--

I am the slow, long-legged Sleepyman and I love you
sheep in Persia, California, Argentine, Australia, or
Spain--you are the thoughts that help me when I, the
Sleepyman, lay my hands on the eyelids of the children
of the world at eight o'clock every night--you thousands
and thousands of sheep in a procession of dusk making
an endless multitudinous drumming on the hills with
your hoofs.

I showed this to Susan, and she shared my first reaction: nice poetry, but the thought of sheep "going up the hill and over the fence" is a recipe for instant insomnia. For a shepherd, good sleep comes when there is no reason to think of sheep at all!