Poetry Appearing in Poetry In Motion® Washington D.C.

Naming the Animals

Anthony Hecht

Having commanded Adam to bestow

Names upon all creatures, God withdrew
To empyrean palaces of blue
That warm and windless morning long ago,
And seemed to take no notice of the vexed
Look on the young man's face as he took thought
Of all the miracles the Lord had wrought,
Now to be labelled, dubbed, yclept, indexed.

Before an addled mind and puddled brow,
The feathered nation and the finny prey
Passed by; there went biped and quadruped.
Adam looked forth with bottomless dismay
Into the tragic eyes of his first cow,
And shyly ventured, "Thou shalt be called 'Fred.'"

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"Naming the Animals," from The Transparent Man by Anthony Hecht. Copyright © 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1990 by Anthony Hecht. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.


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