The Consent

By Howard Nemerov 1920–1991 Howard Nemerov
Late in November, on a single night
Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees
That stand along the walk drop all their leaves
In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind
But as though to time alone: the golden and green
Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday
Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.
 
What signal from the stars? What senses took it in?
What in those wooden motives so decided
To strike their leaves, to down their leaves,
Rebellion or surrender? and if this
Can happen thus, what race shall be exempt?
What use to learn the lessons taught by time.
If a star at any time may tell us: Now.

Howard Nemerov, “The Consent” from The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov. Copyright © 1977 by Howard Nemerov. Reprinted by permission of Margaret  Nemerov.

Source: The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (1977)

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Poet Howard Nemerov 1920–1991

Subjects Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Fall

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 Howard  Nemerov

Biography

Howard Nemerov was a highly acclaimed poet often cited for the range of his capabilities and subject matter, "from the profound to the poignant to the comic," James Billington remarked in his frequently quoted announcement of Nemerov's appointment to the post of United States poet laureate. A distinguished professor at Washington University in St. Louis from 1969 to 1990, Nemerov wrote poetry and fiction that managed to engage . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Fall

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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