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For A Row Of Laurel Shrubs Analysis

Author: poem of David Wagoner Type: poem Views: 22

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They don't want to be your hedge,

     Your barrier, your living wall, the no-go

          Go-between between your property

And the prying of dogs and strangers. They don't

     Want to settle any of your old squabbles

          Inside or out of bounds. Their new growth

In three-foot shoots goes thrusting straight

     Up in the air each April or goes off

          Half-cocked sideways to reconnoiter

Wilder dimensions: the very idea

     Of squareness, of staying level seems

          Alien to them, and they aren't in the least

Discouraged by being suddenly lopped off

     Year after year by clippers or the stuttering

          Electric teeth of trimmers hedging their bets

To keep them all in line, all roughly

     In order. They don't even

          Want to be good-neighborly bushes

(Though under the outer stems and leaves

     The thick, thick-headed, soot-blackened

          Elderly branches have been dodging

And weaving through so many disastrous springs,

     So many whacked-out, contra-

          Dictory changes of direction, they've locked

Themselves together for good). Yet each

     Original planting, left to itself, would be

          No fence, no partition, no crook-jointed

Entanglement, but a tree by now outspread

     With all of itself turned upward at every

          Inconvenient angle you can imagine,

And look, on the ground, the fallen leaves,

     Brown, leathery, as thick as tongues, remain

          Almost what they were, tougher than ever,

Slow to molder, to give in, dead slow to feed

     The earth with themselves, there at the feet

          Of their fathers in the evergreen shade

Of their replacements. Remember, admirers

     Long ago would sometimes weave fresh clippings

          Into crowns and place them squarely on the heads

Of their most peculiar poets.


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