TBAP: Cedars of Lebanon

Cedars of Lebanon – Derrick Austin

I can appreciate a poem that makes ones wonder, one that, at first reading is compelling enough that I want to do a little research to understand it more.

This poem starts with a quote from the Song of Songs, which I knew was part of the Bible, but I did not know was essentially a love letter back and forth between two people. After knowing that, I read back through the poem as an extension of that motif. On second and third reading, I found love themed imbued deeper and deeper.

But, I am confused by the comment in the back from the author, who simply states that he wanted there to be winter imagery with a sense of movement. I think either a) there is more going on here than the author cares to admit or b) I am reading way too deeply into this. Both are of equal possibility.

The writing here is solid nouns; cedars, cabins, crows, grass, hydrangeas. It is also male and lustful; stags, and blood, and passage between erect cedars. There is also an interesting play of colors; white snow, black crows, red blood.

I wonder about the form, five sections, each with a different shape and attack. I would use this if I were trying to say the same thing five ways, but Austin uses it to propel the movement.

The poem improves with more readings. But I still feel either the poet doesn’t know or isn’t saying what he really wants to say, at least in his commentary. I would be interested to see the poems on either side of this in a collection, interested in the context.



A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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