Today’s contribution to poetry month is Owen Marshall’s Even Words Grow Old from Occasional, published by Hazard Press, 2004.
Even words grow old
Even words grow old, finally over the hill
hearts grown cold though husks there still.
Piquant vocabulary becomes as a museum’s
buttoned shoes. Idioms rattle in the text
shrivelled in their shells, and prejudice
of an age lies exposed in bare expression.
Smiles of grammatical exactitude tighten
to a pedant’s rictus. Even words grow
old, no matter how resolute the will, and
meanings fade as the subtle colours of
the dying salmon. thus convulsive mutation
and slower evolution gather their ambiguity
and blunt that first magnificent precision
so kids can only mouth at Shakespeare and
olde Chaucer. Simulacra abound, amiable
dissembling appearance, yet meaning warped
or meanings true but faces hard to recognise
as cracked, dim frescos of Etruscan beauty.
Imprisoned on the page, even words grow old
sentenced to repetition and static senility
flashes of wonder and fleeting comprehension
from all points of the compass, but no one
direction. Strange things lie buried: bog
corpses of language of which we lack memory.
So writing’s fabric wears thin, and dresses
of the past no longer cover our modern hips.
Persian sages gave their dingle, immutable
injunction, and paradox, This Too Will Pass.
Even words grow old- but spawn afresh, thank God
bright, nervous fingerlings, perfectly attuned.
– Owen Marshall –