Te Deum

By Eleanor Ross Taylor 1920–2011
         sho been good to me
                 My loved hoe handle, and my sweat,
heart pounding and the towhee singing.
         Jill, jerking the hospital sheets,
               “Damn careless nurses    ...    
“But golly    ...    a good life.
       “That student who kept writing me.
                “That rainy picnic by a road in Burgundy.
“Heart thumping, thumping on    ...    more, more....”
                 A squirrel on a post.
The nutgrooved skull
         drops; he claws the dirt.
                 Next winter!
Frost thrown down,
         a stiffened morning,
                 a harsh corrective herb
to gnaw, take in.
         Sho been, Lord, Sho been
                 Whether born of  kiss sublime,
victim’s terror, rapist crime, and
         however ending,
                 nut-gnawers nulled
inscrutably, or
                 soldiers, friends
lammed open-eyed —
         Lord, good...sho been

NOTES: This poem is part of a special section of Poetry magazine's May issue

Eleanor Ross Taylor, "Te Deum" from Captive Voices. Copyright © 2009 by Eleanor Ross Taylor. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press.

Source: Poetry (May 2010).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2010
 Eleanor Ross Taylor


Eleanor Ross Taylor was born in 1920 in Norwood, North Carolina, and graduated from Women’s College, now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, in 1942.  While studying at Vanderbilt University, Caroline and Allen Tate introduced her to novelist Peter Taylor, whom she would marry in 1943. Her poetry has been described as elegiac, lyric and feminine; writer Erica Howsare explains, “The southernness of her background . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Crime & Punishment

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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