Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Autumn Inaugural

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Autumn Inaugural

Article excerpt

I

There will always be those who reject ceremony,

who claim that resolution requires no fanfare,

those who demand the spirit stay fixed

like a desert saint, fed only on faith,

to worship in no temple but the weather.

There will always be the austere ones

who mount denial's shaky ladder

to drape the statues or whitewash the frescoed wall,

as if the still star of painted plaster

praised creation less than evening's original.

And they are right. Symbols betray us.

They are always more or less than what

is really meant. But shall there be no

processions by torchlight because we are weak?

What native speech do we share but imperfection?

II

Look at the trees that surround our ceremony

These skinny saplings barely kept upright

By wooden poles and braided wire.

They constitute no stately grove of academe,

They give the merest inklings of an avenue. And yet

The skittering whisper of their leaves suggests

A promise rooted local to the soil

To care and cultivate these slender silhouettes

Until they shade the games of children yet unborn.

III

Praise to the rituals that celebrate change,

old robes worn for new beginnings,

solemn protocol where the mutable soul,

surrounded by ancient experience, grows

young in the imagination's white dress. …

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