Fall 2009 / Issues / Poetry 2009 / Volume 40

Against Ornamentation — Ann Struthers

Notice how the old poets go for the jugular,

direct to the major artery, no ornamenting around

the obvious or making it prettier. Blake says,

“O rose, thou art sick!” And Shakespeare declares,

“Love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds….”

Milton is adamant, “Hell, her numbers full

Thenceforth shall be forever shut.” They don’t mince

or qualify.

They learned, of course, from the old prophets.

Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field.”

No glorious, silent trumpets, no heralds of the wild, unbound beauty,

no timorous bells wafting in the sweet Palestinian breeze.

only, “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed such as these.”

It takes a long time for you

to finally shut the door on baroque embellishments,

to leave the country of adjectives.

It takes a long time to find your way back to the trunk

stripped of all it’s branches, leaves and bark

back to the place where you can go no further,

the heartwood.

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