How to explain my heroic courtesy? I feel
that my body was inflated by a mischievous boy.
Once I was the size of a falcon, lion-sized I was,
once I was not the elephant I find I am.
My pelt sags, and my master scolds me for a botched
trick. I practiced it all night in my tent, so I was
somewhat sleepy. People connect me with sadness
and, often, rationality. Randall Jarrell compared me
to Wallace Stevens, the American poet. I can see it
in the lumbering tercets, but to my mind
I am more like Eliot, a man of Europe, a map
of cultivation. Anyone so ceremonious suffers
breakdowns. I do not like the spectacular experiments
with balance, the high-wire act and cones.
We elephants are images of humility, as when we
undertake our melancholy migrations to die.
Did you know, though, that elephants were taught
to write the Greek alphabet with their hooves?
Worn out by suffering, we lie on our great backs,
tossing grass up to heaven—as a distraction, not a prayer.
That's not humility you see, on our long final journeys:
that's procrastination. It hurts my heavy body to lie down.
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (The Elephant by Dan Chiasson )
- Haiku- Anchor, DEEPAK KUMAR PATTANAYAK
- Luna Plena, Mihaela Pirjol
- I Sink Inside You, Asit Kumar Sanyal
- Buddy, Francie Lynch
- Love (Haiku), Jesus James Llorico
- some thing about you, akash mazumdar
- Shanghai breeze (I), Cigeng Zhang
- thinkings, akash mazumdar
- Momentous Days, Francie Lynch
- Haiku- Riddle, DEEPAK KUMAR PATTANAYAK
Poem of the Day
- 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
- Heather Burns
Alfred Lord Tennyson
(6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
William Carlos Williams
(17 September 1883 – 4 March 1963)