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Simplicity

I’m aching for a vague simplicity:
Sophistication’s dainties have grown cold
And tepid on the plate and suddenly
My tastes lean toward a warm sobriety
That feels quite new yet somehow very old.

I crave the simpleness of early June:
Of bridal wreath still on the branch and phlox,
Its purpled clusters giddy as a loon;
Of life to some sweet secret dear attuned
I never could express or quite unlock.

The secret still abides though covered long
By cares I called adult and schools of thought
(Both sometimes right and sometimes very wrong).
It’s Mystery, though, that sings the simple song
That’s lured me to this place that I’ve been brought.

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Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them Agape Review, America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review, U.S. Catholic, Grand Little Things, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.


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6 Responses

  1. Margaret Coats

    The first stanza is beautifully complete in itself, yet leads on to the profound association of simplicity with Mystery. And this Mystery is greater than an inexpressible secret that had sweetened life. Concluding the unexplained progression with the speaker’s simple presence in an undefined place is most effective, but the finish might be slightly improved by changing one word to say “place where I’ve been brought.” That is, unless the new place must be a gift brought to the speaker rather than a location to which song lures him. Very subtle!

    Reply
    • Jeffrey Essmann

      Margaret: Thanks so much for your kind and considered comments on the poem–and especially for your suggestions regarding the final line. I wrestled with it–and probably should have trusted my gut feeling that it wasn’t quite “there” yet–but also feared I might have been overthinking it. Your comment, however, got me to reconsider it, to wit:

      The secret still abides though covered long
      By cares I called adult and schools of thought
      (Both sometimes right and sometimes very wrong).
      It’s Mystery, though, that sings the simple song
      That’s lured me to these yearnings unbesought.

      I like that “yearning” picks up (and, hopefully, buttons) the “ache” and “craving” of the previous stanzas, and “unbesought” retains the flavor of having been brought to an ambivalent location without the previous grammatical gymnastics. I also just think the rhythm’s better.

      So thanks again.

      Reply
  2. jd

    I too enjoyed your poem and its sentiments and read it many
    times but was never quite satisfied with the final line. Though
    I lack Margaret’s skills in interpretation, “where” is more pleasing
    to the ear, for this reader, at least.

    Reply
    • Jeffrey Essmann

      jd: Thanks so much for your appreciation and for your very helpful comment. I’ve done a rewrite on the final line (see above). Thanks again. Jeffrey

      Reply
  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Jeffrey, I’m with you all the way. I’m “aching for a vague simplicity” too. This poem is chock full of exquisite terms, (“Sophistication’s dainties” being my favorite), exquisite images, and a message that connects with me and many others I am certain. Thank you for this admirable poem. It’s been a pleasure to read it.

    Reply

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