Penguin Poetry (- not a division of Penguin Books…)
THE EMPTY PRESENT
Not many penguins are poets.
What?! I hear you say to yourself. This story is crazy. How could penguins write poetry? They don’t even have fingers, let alone opposable thumbs. And they just make a strange series of whoops and wails, growls and guffaws.
Well, this story is set long ago, when the world was different. And in any case, penguin poetry is an oral tradition, not a written tradition, in a language as unintelligible to you and me as the poetry of Goethe in its original German might be to a Trobriand Islander, or the Mahabharata in Sanskrit could sound to a Mexican.
In fact, long ago, there were lots of penguin poets. They spent many hours in the winter-long darkness of the South Pole competing with each other, as poets do today, to narrate the longest, fastest, most inspiring pieces of epic poetry and attract the largest audiences. These were mostly odes of great bravery performed by legendary penguin warrior-prophets, who would lead their followers into successful battles against their great enemy, the polar bears. The audiences would roar their approval.
Unfortunately, like many tales of legendary warrior prophets, they weren’t based on reality. Polar bears, which are much bigger and stronger than even Emperors, also lived in those days in Antarctica, on a diet mainly composed of penguins. In the darkest days of winter, when it was overcast and too black for the polar bears to hunt by sight, they would listen for the then familiar sounds of penguin poetry performances, knowing that if they followed their ears there would be a gathering of lovely juicy penguins. Continue reading »