"Saint Jerome in the Wilderness" by Paris Bordone‘Oak’ and Other Poetry by Jeffrey Essmann The Society July 19, 2018 Culture, Poetry 5 Comments Oak In quiet awe before a solid oak in summer bloom, I thought: to such as these my Saxon kin of long ago bespoke their pagan prayers—a source of great unease to Charlemagne, these heathens and their trees! He killed all those beyond baptism’s hope, Then celebrated Christmas with the pope. And longer yet ago the priests of Zeus the rustling tones of oak leaves would attend, thereby the god’s good pleasure to deduce and by their oracles his voice extend, that men their earthly ways might wisely wend. Odysseus they hurried back to Greece the suitors of his wife there to police. My priesthood, though, seems a shabbier thing as a wind from Jersey rustles the leaves and Bronxward breathes. Yet time can sing when summer sunlight coolly ebbs and heaves and mottled shadows pool and interweave. Then Zeus just mumbles “beauty…” in my ear— some days, the only oracle I hear. Beware, Good Christian Beware, good Christian, if you ask the Lord to throw you some of his humility, for in his spirited agility He’ll grant you all his graces can afford. Your wit, your charm, they’ll come to be abhorred. You’ll come to doubt your own civility, call into question your virility. No tic or wart will loiter unexplored. Yet never underestimate your pride: it takes your noblest efforts in its stride. You’ll soon begin to think your lowly mien the envy of the saintly brotherhood, and passing by a glass, your image seen, think even sackcloth’s never looked this good. Jeffrey Essmann’s prose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and numerous magazines and literary journals, his poetry in America Magazine and Dappled Things. He lives in New York City. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 5 Responses Dave Whippman July 19, 2018 “Beware, Good Christian” is cleverly and wittily written. Reply Amy Foreman July 19, 2018 I agree with Dave W.: “Beware, Good Christian” is a delightful little piece, gently mocking the (usually futile) human effort to be humble. Thanks for the smile . . . and the reminder! Reply David Paul Behrens July 19, 2018 Very good poetry and well constructed, with ten syllables per line. Reply C.B. Anderson July 20, 2018 Jeffrey, O, the irony! O, the phonics! Reply Leo Yankevich July 22, 2018 In my opinion the last true Christians were fed to the lions in the Roman Coliseum aeons ago. What we have today are middle-class poseurs dressed neatly on Sunday, who aspire to social respectability in this life and the next. They know nothing of heaven & hell. I think the last four lines of “Beware, Good Christian” are not bad. I’d be embarrassed to have been published in the New Times or Washington Post, both pinko rags, but sometimes ambitious poetasters don’t understand the difference between being published and being mocked. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.