What the Leaf Told Me

By Ronald Johnson 1935–1998 Ronald Johnson
Today I saw the word written on the poplar leaves.
It was dazzle’. The dazzle of the poplars.
As a leaf startles out
from an undifferentiated mass of foliage,
so the word did from a leaf—
A Mirage Of The Delicate Polyglot
inventing itself as cipher. But this, in shifts & gyrations,
grew in brightness, so bright
the massy poplars soon outshone the sun . . .
‘My light—my dew—my breeze—my bloom’. Reflections
In A Wren’s Eye.

Ronald Johnson, “What the Leaf Told Me” from The Book of the Green Man. Copyright © 1967 by Ronald Johnson. Used by permission of the Literary Estate of Ronald Johnson.

Source: The Book of the Green Man (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1967)

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Poet Ronald Johnson 1935–1998

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Nature, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse

 Ronald  Johnson


Ronald Johnson was a Kansas native who lived most of his adult life in San Francisco. He told Contemporary Authors: "I have spent the last twenty years writing a long poem titled ARK, which was completed in 1991. The work consists of three books, each of thirty-three sections: titled The Foundations, The Spires, and The Ramparts. Rather than being based on literary sources (as the early The Book of the Green Man was based on . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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