Listen to Robert Pinsky reading "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" and "The Lake Isle."Slate is observing Poetry Month and dissociating itself from slavish poetry-boosterism by publishing some poems that are negative about poetry: often, as it turns out, the poetry of authors other than the poet.
Ezra Pound wrote a parody of his friend William Butler Yeats' early poem "The Lake Isle of Innisfree." Yeats' poem reads:
THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean‑rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee‑loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
And Pound responds:
THE LAKE ISLE
O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Give me in due time, I beseech you, a little tobacco-shop,
With the bright little boxes
piled up neatly on the shelves
And the loose, fragrant cavendish
and the shag,
And the bright Virginia
loose under the bright glass cases,
And a pair of scales not too greasy,
And the whores dropping in for a word or two in passing,
For a flip word, and to tidy their hair a bit.