A Vulnerary 

By Jonathan Williams 1929–2008 Jonathan Williams

for Robert Duncan 

one comes to language from afar, the ear
fears for its sound-barriers—
but one “comes”; the language “comes” for
The Beckoning Fair One
plant you now, dig you
later, the plaint stirs winter
air in a hornet’s nest
over the water makes a
solid, six-sided music…
a few utterly quiet scenes, things
are very far away—“form
is emptiness”
comely, comely, love trembles
and the sweet-shrub

Jonathan Williams, "A Vulnerary" from Jubilant Thicket: New & Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by Jonathan Williams.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: Jubilant Thicket: New & Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2005)

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Poet Jonathan Williams 1929–2008

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Poetry & Poets


Founder of the Jargon Society and publisher of Jargon Press, Jonathan Williams was born in Asheville, North Carolina. He attended St. Albans School in Washington, DC, and then Princeton University before dropping out to attend the Chicago Institute of Design and Black Mountain College. A photographer and graphic artist, his books include An Ear in Bartram’s Tree: Selected Poems, 1957-1967 (1969), Strung Out with Elgar on a . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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