Friday, December 20, 2013

Poetry Friday: Paul Violi

This week over at BOOKS AROUND THE TABLE I talk about making lists, and I mention a poet named Paul Violi who wrote many list-poems. Here is one of them, a parody of Christopher Smart's poem, Jubilate Agno, especially the section written for his cat ("For I will consider my cat Jeoffrey/ For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean./ For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there./ For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended. / For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood./ For fifthly he washes himself. / For sixthly he rolls upon wash....") Violi has a lot of fun in his poetry (read his "Index" or "Triptych" to confirm this - BTW: That last title is a parody of TV Guide listings.)I know this is a slightly weird offering for Poetry Friday, but I wish more people read Violi. He takes some geting used to, and he takes a sense of humor.

For It Feels Like February 29th or 30th

Paul Violi

For we were made to reach for things.
For imagination extends life.
For our reach must exceed our grasp.
For in confinement imagination thrives.
For the Book of the Month Club selection
Has finally arrived.
For it is The Life of Jeffrey Hudson.
For it is a February Classic.
For a wondrous life he made.
For he flourished in confinement.
For he was a champion who scoffed at restriction.
For at age nine, though scarcely 18 inches tall,
He was gracefully proportioned.
For he was a page to Duke Edward.
For at a banquet he leaped out of a pie
Placed before Queen Henrietta Maria.
For she adopted him on the spot.
For he was made captain of cavalry.
For he was called Strenuous Jeffrey.
For he was tireless and heroic.
For firing from horseback
He killed his opponent in a duel.
For he was captured by Dunkirkers and imprisoned.
For upon his release
He was found to have grown taller.
For he was captured and imprisoned by Turkish pirates.
For by the time he was freed he had grown a foot taller.
For after the Restoration he was pensioned.
For as an accused conspirator in the Popish Plot
He was again imprisoned and again released.
For shortly thereafter he died
At the age of 63 at the height of 3 foot 9.

The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted this week by Buffy at the appropriately named Buffy's Blog. Head over there to see what other people are sharing.


  1. I admit to scratching my head a bit, but also laughing (and glad that Jeffrey made it to 3 foot 9!) Thanks for sharing.

  2. So I just spent a while reading some other poems by Paul Violi, & I'm fascinated with his way of telling a story. I found Counter Man & Appeal to the Grammarians, and along with this one you shared, Julie, stories that make one return to re-read and go "say what?" Thanks for the introduction.

  3. Like Linda, I ended up wandering off and reading more Violi poems. He's got an interesting style. His Cackle poem (I can't remember the exact name) seems like it would be popular with kids. Thanks for pointing him out!

  4. For he is indeed an unusual poet. many amusing moments! Happy Holidays, Julie!

  5. How much fun was that! Thanks, again, Julie, for the introduction to another poet I hadn't met before.

  6. "For we were made to reach for things.
    For imagination extends life.
    For our reach must exceed our grasp.
    For in confinement imagination thrives."

    So true!