Poetry Friday & The Ballad of Odyssey

Poetry Friday & The Ballad of Odyssey

poetry friday logoMargaret has this week’s round-up at Reflections on the Teche.

I have a wonderful and talented friend named Jana who lives in California.  She is a sculptor and fiber artist, as well as an author. She specializes in quirky creatures created in felted wool. You can see a tiny portion of her collection here. We share a love of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, though she is enamored of sharks while I prefer cuddly otters.

So when I finally decided to respond to Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ Ditty of the Month Club challenge, I was not surprised that my thoughts went immediately to, “What would Jana find interesting?” The elusive and mysterious giant squid popped into my head. I did some research into squid science and squids in literature, specifically Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which alludes to Homer’s Odyssey. Ta-da!

Engraving of Captain Nemo viewing a giant squid from a porthole of the Nautilus submarine, from 20000 Lieues Sous les Mers by Jules Verne. Date 1870 Source This image was originally featured in the Hetzel edition (1870) of 20000 Lieues Sous les Mers, and has also been featured in more recent editions (this particular instance was scanned in from a recent edition).
Engraving of Captain Nemo viewing a giant squid from a porthole of the Nautilus submarine, from 20000 Lieues Sous les Mers by Jules Verne.
Date 1870
Source This image was originally featured in the Hetzel edition (1870) of 20000 Lieues Sous les Mers, and has also been featured in more recent editions (this particular instance was scanned in from a recent edition).

I wrote “The Ballad of Odyssey” and will confess that it contains a deliberate error for the sake of storytelling. (GASP!) The giant squid hunts alone. They don’t travel in groups, but they are found in large numbers together wherever food is available. Please forgive me for using artistic license to expound upon the theme of tragic daughters done in by negligent fathers. *This version is slightly different from the original posted on Michelle’s site, based on an edit to introduce word play.

Jana, for what it’s worth, this one’s for you!

Sung to the tune of “Oh My Darling, Clementine”

The Ballad of Odyssey

In a cavern, in a canyon
at the bottom of the sea
lived an ancient, giant squid
and his daughter, Odyssey.

Through the darkness
this pair hunted
for the fish that brought them glee,
but the old squid found a new love
and abandoned Odyssey.

Then a sperm whale
snuck up on her
as she swam alone and free,
all those tentacles could not save her
and he ate dear Odyssey.

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling, Odyssey,
You’re a big part of the food chain,
that’s the way it’s meant to be.

© 2014 Keri Collins Lewis.  All rights reserved.

For more info. on giant squids, visit National Geographic.

For a funny video of a very enthusiastic marine biologist, watch the video below.

16 Replies to “Poetry Friday & The Ballad of Odyssey”

  1. Judging by your friend’s sculpture of Cthulhu, I can see how this poem would be right up her alley! I’ll stick with cuddly otters too, thank you very much, but I’m glad you were inspired to write such a fun parody! (…though probably not much fun for Odyssey, huh.)

      1. I promise I will try to avoid all freakish animal parts for the next challenge. One blog I read has a “snake photo warning system” for readers who don’t like snakes.

  2. I love your little ditty to “O my Darlin.'” This is a great model for students for parody as well as research to write a poem. I also love the new site background. Reminds me of the sunsets at my parents’ lake in Madison.

    1. What a nice thing to say, Margaret! I would love to read some of your students’ parodies — they’re the big thing these days on YouTube. Have you seen the Peterson Brothers’ farming parodies? They’re fantastic and do a great job promoting agriculture through popular music.

    1. Isn’t serendipity fun? I just finished reading a book All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The book 20,000 Leagues… is featured in the story. And now here’s your parody. Delicious!

      1. I do love serendipity! When it happens and I actually notice, I wonder how much I often miss! I copied your comment about audiobooks from someone’s post last week — you are so well read (and well listened!). 😉

    2. Thanks! We began watching the classic David Niven version of “Around the World in 80 Days” last night — I’ve never read the books but I want to.

    1. Thanks, Buffy! There is *something* about that tune that gets stuck one’s head. The video cracked me up, “Come to Papa!” Those guys got some kind of excited about squid.

  3. Thank you for the remarkable squiditty. Love it! I am convinced that one can never have too many cephalopods or too much squid lit. Keep those tentacles coming. L, ‘g, js

  4. Thanks for sharing the poem, and the changes too, Keri. I think it’s delightful both ways, & Margaret is right-This will inspire so many students to find a way to write their own. The video is awesome. I didn’t know they finally found one.Don’t you wonder about this evolution?

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