(Ackermann's Repository 1819)‘The Afternoon of Man’ and Other Poetry by Jeffrey Essmann The Society January 22, 2019 Beauty, Culture, Deconstructing Communism, Poetry 7 Comments The Afternoon of Man Fourteen or so, one autumn afternoon, my homework done and supper hours away, I scuffed along on sodden paths bestrewn with yellowed leaves in woods where I’d once played. Perhaps it was the setting sun that grayed the air, perhaps a sudden chill just then, but something in my soul began to weigh the thought I’d never be a boy again. And now as I move through the world of men, live by my wits and somewhat by my strength, there nonetheless still comes the time at length, late afternoon inside my office when I of a sudden catch the subtle musk: the sour smell of oak leaves in the dusk. Like Wordsworth’s Humble Nun Like Wordsworth’s humble nun I do not fret the cloister of the sonnet’s metric walls. Its iambs neither stifle nor forestall the pleasure said that freer lines beget. And rhyme? Although at times its quaint duet perforce my native music overhauls, its subtle grace provides the wherewithal a world bereft of measure to offset. Yet prayer I raise within this rhythmic cell is less to saints and angels bright than to Calliope and all her pagan crew whose classic sense of beauty and the spell that’s cast by balance was the sentinel of human spirit with the gods imbued. This Sonnet Has Been Funded by the State This sonnet has been funded by the State despite the fact it has no axe to grind. I really looked for something I could hate, but MSNBC’s all I could find. Upfront I ought to mention that I’m white, and worse: a man, but in defense I’d say I’m fairly nice and terribly polite and told the arts committee I was gay. The chair (a gender quite beyond all guess) unsubtly suggested my work show how rhyme supports the fascist status quo. And though no whore for money, I confess that if with State approval I am crowned, I may become the liberals’ Ezra Pound. 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. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. NOTE TO POETS: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 7 Responses Sally Cook January 22, 2019 The pleasure of reading a line like “the sour smell of oak leaves in the dusk” renews my belief that a fugitive beauty still exists among the insanity of process art and ragged unrhymed lines so unlike yours. And though your “state-funded:” sonnet leaves me confused, isn’t that what inevitably occurs when arts and government collide? Reply Joe Tessitore January 22, 2019 A rich variety and well done, indeed! Reply Alexander Ream January 22, 2019 “This is my Winter hike,” I’d say to myself each year growing up around “Route One.” You brought that all back, man – thanks. Reply James Sale January 23, 2019 Brilliant, brilliant poetry – so accomplished, so assured, so fine in its handling of form and meter. I am currently rushing to do something else, but I have to say that Jeffrey Essman is an important poet and welcome more of his work on these pages. Stuff what the art committees say! Reply C.B. Anderson January 23, 2019 Yes, nice stuff, Jeffrey. You use your cleverness to intertwine sound form with strong ideas and nearly perfect execution. I say “nearly” only because it is always possible to nitpick about a syllable or two. These are the kind of poems I like to read: substantial, focused and polished. Reply dave whippman January 24, 2019 “This Sonnet Has Been Funded by the State” is a really entertaining satire. Some classic lines – politically incorrect, but what a refreshing change that is! Reply David Hollywood March 15, 2019 Very enjoyable poems. 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