Thursday, August 31, 2006

Poetry Friday: Opposites by Richard Wilbur

Opposites, More Opposites, and a Few Differences written and
illustrated by Richard Wilbur. 1973; 1991; Harcourt, 2006, (0-15-205612-2) $10.95

(This book will be available in October.)

Opposites is probably best known for this short poem:

What is the opposite of two?
A lonely me, a lonely you.

Other poems are longer but equally snappy:

What is the opposite of Cupid?
If you don't know, you're pretty stupid.
It's someone with a crossbow who
Delights in shooting darts at you
Not with the kind intentions of
Persuading you to fall in love,
But to be mean, and make you shout,
"I hate you, " "Ouch," and "Cut it out."

A combined edition of two books published decades ago, this is a lively, lighthearted collection that reads equally well aloud or silently. But despite the bare-bones look of its solid, black-inked illustrations--or perhaps because of them?--there's a sophisticated air to this book, which makes me think it would be most enjoyed almost on the sly, "discovered" on an adult's bookshelf instead of found tamely in the children's room. Another thought: try it on readers who enjoy Lemony Snicket. (8 & up)