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Country Fair

Charles Simic

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2002-01-11
Added by: Annika
I liked the poem by itself.
I read biographical data about Simic and considered this interpretation of the character of the dog: that it's an alter ego of the author - the subaltern, the outsider, the immigrant. His experience in the "normal" surrounding (our crazy world that resembles a fairground) goes like: he's the center of attention, but he's not different in "normal" things, as time goes, people realize that he's just normal and direct their attention away from him. At odd moments a characteristic of his may make him look odd to some, but most just accept him as a new variety to their reality. After all, even the drunken girl is an attraction and special (as in "not normal").

Now, however, I read about "the legendary six-legged dog". What's the story behing?

As a believer in THE DEATH OF THE AUTHOR, of course I don't let my reading be totally chattered.
Simic's Poetry
2003-03-19
Added by: Chris
I love Simic's poetry. I read a poem of his in a collection awhile back in which he recounted the lives of many and then ended with something like "and I, I piss in the sink with a feeling of eternity" -- anyone know the name of this poem so I could look it up again??? Any help here would be great.
Yes.
2004-05-06
Added by: Sparky
It's all very hilarious.
2004-07-11
Added by: Lisa G.
The first line says it all--"if you didn't see the six-legged dog, it doesn't matter." The dog was merely doing what any normal dog could do, but his legs amused the drunk woman. Basically, the people at the fair were just wasting their time gaping at a dog with a few quirks doing a normal doggy thing. I think this poem is a commentary on the society's inability to accept as normal trivial differences in its individual members, which may well be normal for them.
piss in the sink with a feeling of etenity
2005-05-25
Added by: Fez
....is a line from Simic's 1974 poem - The garden of earthly delights - quite tricky to track down. I believe it is part of the collection Charons Cosmology - but dont quote me on that
Re: Simic's Poetry
2005-09-07
Added by: Sean
And I,
I piss in the sink
with a feeling of
eternity.

Appears to be the last line from a 1974 poem called "The Garden of Earthly Delights."
2006-11-07
Added by: Sean Wayman
Typically for Simic, this poem employs short lines and simple language. There is an offhand, colloquial feel to the langauge.

If you didn't see the dog,
it doesn't matter.

It would be a mistake however to view this as a simple poem. The complexity of the poem, as often with Simic's work, lies in its symbolism. The poem invites us to explore every object within for symbolic implications. It is in this sense more than any other that Simic can be said to have learnt from dreams and folklore.
The question thus becomes: What is the six-legged dog a symbol for?
The first thing to ask is, "What would be a six-legged dog be doing at a country fair?" The obvious answer is that it is the 'star' of a freak show exhibit. Considered in conjunction with the quote, "what a cold, dark night/ to be out at the fair", we can begin to see that this is something less innocent and more sinister to the poem than first impressions might suggest. Is the poem somehow about the rather pathetic spectacle of a deformed animal running after a stick? Is it perhaps about our failure to see the strangeness and marvellousness of life even when it is right before us? After all the poet says, "As for the legs/One got used to them quickly/ And thought of other things."
I believe that it is our quickness to tire of novelty that is the real subject of this poem. The boredom of the speaker is his own inadvertant self-indictment. The drunk couple with their loud laughter and messy kissing are a symbol of a more lively, if unruly, response to life.
The poem ends, "The dog got the stick and looked back at us/ And that was the whole show."
In the context of what has already been said, the dog looking back shows that the response of the speaker and his indifference is in fact what is under scrutiny. It is the people, just as much as the dog, that has been the show. The poem has been playing games with the relationship between subject and object as usually presented in lyrical poetry.

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