Theodore Roethke, the American poet who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, has written a poem called “The Sloth.” It portrays one of those shaggy, slow-moving, primitive mammals which seems to spend most of its life hanging upside down from the branches of a tree:
In moving-slow he has no Peer
You ask him something in his Ear,
He thinks about it for a Year.
And, then, before he says a Word
There, upside down (unlike a Bird),
he will assume that you have Heard.
A most Ex-as-per-at-ing Lug.
But should you call his manner Smug,
He’ll sigh and give his branch a Hug;
Then off again to sleep he Goes,
Still swaying gently by his Toes,
And you just know he knows he knows.
The poem emphasizes the sloth’s standoffishness. He inhabits his own little world, nestled there in his tree as though he were alone on a remote island. Call…
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