Saturday, December 13, 2008

Naming the Animals

Naming the Animals

by Anthony Hecht

Having commanded Adam to bestow
Names upon all the creatures, God withdrew
To empyrean palaces of blue
That warm and windless morning long ago,
And seemed to take no notice of the vexed
Look on the young man's face as he took thought
Of all the miracles the Lord had wrought
Now to be labeled, dubbed, yclept, indexed.

Before an addled mind and puddle brow,
The feathered nation and the finny prey
Passed by; there went biped and quadruped.
Adam looked forth with bottomless dismay
Into the tragic eyes of his first cow,
And shyly ventured, "Thou shalt be called 'Fred.'"

"Naming the Animals" by Anthony Hecht, from Collected Later Poems. © Alfred A Knopf, 2003.

And lest anyone get all copyright crazy, I would submit that I rely upon the fair use doctrine for the printing of this poem here rather than the mere linking to it on the Writer's Almanac web page which did obtain it with permission. The fair use doctrine consists of an inquiry into four questions: (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. As for (1), the use is merely personal, not commercial at all. I derive no income from this blog, and it is being used to educate and illustrate the source of my title; (2) because the poem has previously been published, the author has been able to derive pleasure, notoriety and income from the publication of the poem, and therefore, the nature of the work lends itself to the fair use doctrine; (3) although a complete poem, the fourteen lines of text represent but one page of a 250+ page book and one of countless entries on the Writer's Almanac page, which includes an RSS feed of daily poetry, and (4) not enough people read my blog that it could ever be interpreted to have a negative effect upon the potential market or value of the copyrighted work. If anything, maybe one person might decide to check out the rest of Mr. Hecht's poems, which I encourage greatly.

(If I had the ability to footnote, the above would be footnoted)

And now on to the regular part of the post:

Somehow, I have no problem naming my blog posts. The names frequently present themselves, or are simple, descriptive names. Projects, on the other hand, give me all kinds of trouble when I am attempting to name them. All too often, I wind up just naming them whatever the person named the original pattern. I am attempting to be better about this, but I rarely am able to break away from the original pattern titles. Often, as I am moving through life, I come up with things that I think would make good titles for short stories or songs or would make good band names. I think I may have to start using some of them for my pattern titles. They would be random, but it may just work.

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