Original poem reprinted online here: "Song of the Jellyfish" by Lee Upton
Originally read: July 6, 2013
More information about the Poet: Lee Upton
The poem is written in the persona of a jellyfish, and the poem plays with this notion. In some sense, the perspective is a bit absurd, however, the song quality of this poem with the refrain, "I'm not evolving anymore" has further and further serious gravity.
However, the play first. The first stanza deals with other names of a jellyfish, "If I'm a sap in a bladder or a / bubbling rain cap, or a frisked canopy, / I gargle through the deep in a superior sieve." Note that "sieve" is a reoccurring image in this piece. The sieve and the jellyfish have a similar look as far as the dome shape -- it's more of the attention to a comparative structure. In any case, the last two lines of this stanza, "I don't care a fig who goes extinct. / I'm not evolving anymore." Yes, the line is kind of funny based on the attitude, but not that the centralization of the speaker not changing and why, not changing because the speaker forced through definition.
In the second stanza there's the comparison with the shark, "a muscle of the fabulous, / gliding teeth, eyes flat as a psychopath's" -- past me noted on psychopath line,"evolving for". I'm not too sure what I meant, but I do see that the evolving of form doesn't necessarily change "for the better" fabulous and psychopath are more of judgement calls based on design to help the shark. So the comparative reasoning is brought up here. The jellyfish nor the shark has to evolve.
The refrain doesn't appear in the third stanza, and it's the stanza in which the speaker addresses a "you", "Sometimes it's a good idea to stop before / the brain stem develops, don't you think?" There's the play of inversion, stopped brain stem, you thinking. However, the last lines further punctuate a lack of free will and just letting everything just go by, "Why not let the tide decide for us both?" Which, actually, is not a bad proposition for a jellyfish.
And it's this thought process about though process that runs, "like gravy onto shore" to the next stanza, "That's preferable to herding around a brain / that's not on your side / and tears your nerves to smoke" the trick of the brain is the ability to understand and think about pain in a physical and emotional sense instead of reacting to the current, "Whatever happens to the sea I squeeze, / I'm not evolving anymore."
And in the present, "I bear myself. I cope." No lamenting, no regret, "The world can end, and I'll fend for myself. / What do I care about what they do next door? / Be human, as if I care." Not even caring about others. The song of the jellyfish is for oneself, but does that mean being human is the opposite? No. They key for me in this stanza is "cope." Evolving is a big risk -- change, over time, to better the genetic pool to the environment -- change because the environment. Cope, on the other hand, is not changing based on the environment and dealing with what is there. And so when the refrain, "I'm not evolving anymore" continues -- it's an affirmation that someone doesn't have to change in order to cope, just don't think about the past or present.