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Monday, August 12, 2013

Comments on "CouCou Dish" Poem


CouCou Dish

Coucou you sing our freedom songs
And okra says it's true;
Singing Robyn, merci beaucoup!  
Surprise! No peek-a-boo.

True Bajans love the real coucou;
Served all year once a week;
Thursday is really coucou day;
Well done with real technique.

Corny mass floats on saucy sea;
Molded well on the plate;
And flying fish swim round its core;
Wingless yes! But sedate.

A salisbury steak I'm not;
Neither a duckanoo;
When saucy river round me flows;
You've got the real coucou.

Coucou you sing our freedom songs;
A wholesome dish so true;
Singing Robyn, merci beaucoup;
Surprise! No peekaboo.

CouCou is our national dish
Chopped okras glue the maize;
Carved firmly with a buttered mold,
Served on ironing days;

Our coucou sings cool pop tunes
Loud and sweet from the chest
Flying high all around the globe
Rihanna tops the nest.

At all cost we make pepper sauce
With spices from the land
Foreign brands too we use in stew
With industry we stand.

Coucou you sing our freedom songs
A wholesome dish so true;
Singing Robyn, merci beaucoup
Surprise! No peekaboo.

Food is the mainstay for all living beings after water. Mrs Carmeta Frazer former Food Promotion Officer at the Barbados Marketing Corporation now the Barbados Agricultural Development Corporation trumpeted the slogan “Food Comes First” was a strong advocate for local food production and the use of local produce in the preparation of dishes. Food is so important that even as far back as 3 000 B C poets wrote about food in all its various manifestations. The 20th century poet Virginia Woolf wrote classically about it. Food is a timeless subject in poems and goes beyond its metaphoric use and poets relish writing about food literally and to reveal its universal quality and the never ending pleasure food brings.  The poem “Co Cou Dish” is also a food metaphor as well because a metaphor is face-value understanding and experiencing, and seeing that face-value understanding in terms of another thing.  This poem "CouCou" can be so many things for it brings into play the influence of the French in the islands of the West Indies, for example "Coucou" is not only the singing bird but a French word which in English means "Hello" or "Good Morning", "peekaboo" comes from the old French word "pique-a-beau", translating to resentment or one's lover, which accounts for the covering of one's face with the hands. This was often done to signal others in town that the coverer was upset at the coveree for some indiscretion and that the offending party was to be dragged off by a mob and beaten with sticks. The authentic French words "merci beaucoup" meaning "Thank You."

In Barbados, farmers are encouraged to buy local and artisanly  produced foods against the pressures of globalization in the food industry and as expected in the slogan the poem can be a food metaphor promoting all aspects of fine arts, culinary art as well as, the poem metaphorically promotes the survival f a variety of local and ethnic groups because community members experience and transmit their local identify in terms of food-related experiences. Food is a metaphor not only for a specific local identity in question, but also for political and cultural resistance.

In its literal sense "CouCou" is about the national dish of Barbados. Returning Nationals and tourists from around the globe often remark that they savor the epicurean delight whenever coucou and flying fish is on the menu, this truly authentic Bajan dish.  The imagery in this food poem makes reference to the pop-star Robyn Rihanna Fenty. The career of this singing super-star, born on February 20, 1988 in St Michael, Barbados has without doubt, elevated this 166 square mile island to the fore-front of the entertainment world. In recognition of this, the Government of Barbados showered on her the accolade of “Honorary Youth and Cultural Ambassador for Barbados”.

The poem “CouCou Dish” is written in ballad meter. The ballad is essentially a narrative poem with a stanza of four lines with a refrain stanza of necessity. The plot is the dominant feature of the ballad, dealing with a single crucial episode, narrated impersonally with frequent repetition and that’s where the refrain verses come into play. Traditionally, the ballad is written in straight forward verse seldom with detail but always with graphic simplicity and force. The ballad meter is derived by using alternating verses of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter followed by the last words of the second and fourth verses rhyming  in each stanza whereas the first and third verses in all the stanzas do not rhyme. This poem has multiple stanzas made up of six stanzas and a refrain stanza. The rhyming pattern reflected in all the seven stanzas are shown below:

Coucou you sing our freedom songs
And okra says it's true;
Singing Robyn, merci beaucoup!  
Surprise! No peek-a-boo.

True Bajans love the real cou cou;
Served all year once a \week\;
Thursday is really cou cou day;
Well done with real \technique\.

Corny mass floats on saucy sea;
Molded well on the /plate/;
And flying fish swim round its core;
Wingless yes! But /sedate/.

A salisbury steak I'm not;
Neither a ~duckanoo~;
When saucy river round me flows;
You've got the real ~cou cou~.

CouCou is our national dish
Chopped okras glue the maize;
Carved firmly with a buttered mold,
Served on ironing days;

Our coucou sings cool pop tunes
Loud and sweet from the chest
Flying high all around the globe
Rihanna tops the nest.

At all cost we make pepper sauce
With spices from the (land)
Foreign brands too we use in stew
With industry we (stand).

Notice that the rhyme scheme in the poem "CouCou Dish" shows that the end-rhymes in the second and fourth verses in stanza 1 do not rhyme with the end-rhymes in the second and fourth verses of all those stanzas that follow. For this simple reason, the rhyme scheme for "CouCou Dish" just cannot be xbyb but must take into account that end-rhymes in the second and fourth verses in stanza 1 do not rhyme with the end-rhymes in the second and fourth verses of all those stanzas that follow; hence, instead of merely xbyb rhyme scheme we have an expanded rhyme scheme xbyb xcyc xdyd xeye xfyf xgyg xhyh xiyi xjyj.

The rhyme scheme in "CouCou Dish" is much longer when compared with the rhyme scheme xbyb in "Bajan Conkies" as shown in the excerpt below:

When November comes to the door,                              
Zesty conkies we share;                                    
Sweet and mighty strong with essence;          
A Bajan dish set square.                                   

Pumpkin alone will never do;                                                           
Mix, corn, coconut fair,                                    
With potato, sugar and spice;                                          
Cook on square leaves with care.                   

Conkies wrapped in banana leaves;                               
Do pass the plate with cheer,                                           
To friends but satellites of none;                     
Great cheese-on-bread is there.                       

Stacked independently on plate,                     
Conkies banana wear;                                                      
Housed in jacket uniquely ours;                      
We stacked on tableware;                                               

Skilled fingers cut those leaves to strap,         
From stalk with sharp hardware;                   
Laboring these souls toiled each day,                             
In cane-fields near Foursquare;

Notice that the xbyb rhyme scheme in this poem "Bajan Conkies" shows that the end-rhymes in the second and fourth verses in stanza 1 rhyme with the end-rhymes in the second and fourth verses of all those stanzas that follow. The xbyb rhyme scheme is the shortest rhyme scheme in English Language poetry.

Click on this Link to read all the verses in "Bajan Conkies"



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