Spite And Envy

I am an ornamental fish
inside a garden pond.
and genuinely do not wish
to see the world beyond.

I'm told that, in the silver sea,
a great white shark may bask;
but why should greatness bother me?
Indeed, why do I ask?

My cronies underneath the pads
are similarly bright:
these claims to fame are foolish fads,
like us, mere sparks of light.

The adulation of a whale,
coelacanth or eel,
forgets our tiny, perfect scale:
we're just as fine, we feel.

These monsters of the ocean move
through time like king or queen:
what have they got, what do they prove
about the current scene?

I'm like a poet, underpaid,
expected to feel faint
when Tennyson is on parade.
You'd think he was a saint.

The same with Shakespeare: I prefer
to hear my fishy sound,
to be a tiny, brilliant blur,
swim round and round and round.

From Rime Present

Spite And Envy