Thursday, September 18, 2008

นิรนาม: a poem

Word: นิรนาม ( นิ-ระ-นาม- )
Pronunciation: ní-rá-naam
Translation: [ ADJ ] nameless ; anonymous

Article from Reno Gazette Journal c 1971
Click on photo to enlarge
See previous related post about performing elephants at John Ascuaga's Nugget


You don't have a name?
The children will name you.
Here in Nevada
we will chain you
and train you.
Tourists love elephants
who can stand on one leg.
In Thailand an elephant
must beg to be noticed
but you are a novelty now.
Just bow for the peanuts
and see impressed faces.
Think of the places
from where their money came.
It doesn't really matter
that you don't have a name.

Why aren't you eating
and what makes you groan?
In Thailand an elephant
would wheeze without care.
Here in Nevada
one doctor alone should
stop this small moan.

We did all we could
but her stomach was

You died with no name.

© MLydiaM (aka Lydia) 1971


Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Did you write this? Wow - that was really moving.

It's such a complex area - because there's that gap between Exploitation and Conservation, between the farmers and the poachers. The modern world seems to demand that animals must serve a purpose - so we train them to bow for peanuts and take them away from the open plains where they have always lived in the name of conservation.

Things are never black and white - but i do agree that we have a duty of care and that animals who are turned into performers are often mis-treated

Lydia said...

Yup, that's one of my poems. I use the MLydiaM logo here at my blog instead of my full name. (You know all about names, having written one of the all-time greatest pieces about the subject in your recent post!)

This is a topic that grips me, all the more now that certain animals are facing extinction. My personal opinion is that we need to get a grip on human overpopulation that is squeezing the life from other beings. O, don't get me going.....

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

Aw, that's sad....touching poem to pay homage.

raccoonlover1963 said...

Hi Lydia. too bad about the elephant. I would love to get into wildlife conservation, but don't know how to go about it. My internet is finally back up, but who knows for how long! My computer is constantly acting up and I don't have the money to buy a new one. Hope to see you visit soon.

Lydia said...

Thanks for sniffling along with me. :(

It's so good to have you back!
If you mean that you'd like to help out in what ways you can help wildlife conservation, just click on that NRDC badge in my blog's right-hand column. They are one of the great groups committed to the cause. If you mean that you'd actually like to work in wildlife conservation I would think that emailing NRDC or the World Wildlife Fund (for starters) and asking for their advice might be an idea.
Other ideas, anyone?

YogaforCynics said...

Thought provoking in an interesting way...then, "though provoking" and "interesting" are kind of synonymous, aren't they? Anyway, the concept of an elephant without a name...which of course would describe almost every elephant that's ever lived outside of human control, and, in the animals' own minds, probably every elephant period...their lives are given "meaning" in the way we think of it, as novelties rather than nameless beings roaming their world anonymously for their brief time and then gone, just as I try to be a writer or a good guy or a yogi or an intellectual or whatever instead of simply being...whatever...

Beautiful poem.

Lydia said...

Thanks much.
I like your train of thought. It's as if we take so much away from them by capturing and keeping them that bestowing a name is in some ways more for us than for them.
I hope that you'll remember Elephant Appreciation Day (09-22) as only a writer, nice guy, yogi, intellectual could. :)

Angel said...

Hello everyone, I have been working at my computer tonight, looking for old photographs of Bertha the Amazing Elephant. I ran into your blog and read some of your poems and stories... and my heart was so saddened. I know that many animals are not treated well in captivity. I think it is horrible how we humans have made so many beautiful animals suffer for our entertainment. I am so sensitive to it that I havent been to a zoo or the circus since I was a very small girl.

However, fate intervened, God obviously had other plans for me, and in the 1980's I met "Bertha the Amazing Elephant". I never imagined myself working with elephants. NEVER EVER! I am such an animal lover and the thought of working with an animal in captivity was just not acceptable to me. My friend saw an ad in the paper for a show girl...I wasn't interested...but I got her all dolled up for her interview. Out of 25 dancer's she got the job. But she needed a partner..."not me", I said. But she encouraged me to at least come meet Bertha. I reluctantly agreed and later that day I found myself staring into Bertha's big brown eyes. (She had the longest eye lashes). Strangly I wasn't at all afraid. So I walked up to her and she began to rock and sway back and forth. As I got closer I could actually see her SMILING! When I got close enough she put her truck out and wrapped it around my waist. Then she just scooped me up and began to rock me like a baby. That was it for me...I was in LOVE...but still worried. How could I work with this beautiful animal on a stage when I knew in my heart she belonged in the wild. All those stories you hear about and animals in capitivity being treated badly...that frightened me.

But my experience was not negative. I want you all to knoow that during the time I spent with Bertha I never saw her be abused. Mr. Asquaga loved Bertha and he had a huge ranch in Carson City that he would take her to. She would roam around and vacation, rest. And I have to also say that Bertha LOVED to perform. She would get very excited and flap her ears and nudge at her head dress.

A few years before I left the show, Bertha had developed an infection in one of her toe nails. The infection kept spreading up her leg. They tried despertly to help her....and even took her to see specialists in California. But nothing seemed to really stop the infection completely. They started to retire her from the stand and she spent more time on the ranch. Years later I learned that she had passed away. I think I cried for a week. I still cry. She visits me in my dreams allot. She is definitely allot happier in elephant heaven.

In closing, you are all absolutely right about how spiritual and intelligent elephants are. There was a trick called the "leg carry", where I would lay my legs in Bertha's mouth. She would pick me up and move around a drum. One night I didn't position myself correctly in her mouth and she could feel me slipping. She intuitively knew I could be seriously injured and came out of theperformance and gently placed me on the floor. Then she took her trunk and made a circle around my body..."circle of protection". she was telling me not to worry...she would always have my back! I have many beautiful storied I can share...if you ever want to hear more. And if you have any pictures of Bertha and Tina....I would love to have you share them with me. Thank you for reading and let us all keep Bertha and all animals in our prayers. I would love to hear from any of you! My email address is My website is

Blessed be,



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