September 17, 2012 Umbrage

“Erudite but never obscure,” reads a blurb on the dustcover of Ben Downing’s debut collection, released some 9 years ago. The linguistic play in the selection below lives up to that praise, and seems likely to please some MV readers–particularly those who enjoyed Dan Groves’s dissection of “goodbye” a few weeks ago. Downing goes to the dictionary of etymology for inspiration on this one. It could be an epic, but he’s distilled the concept and its moral import down to 5 couplets–rhyming ones, no less!. -ed.

UMBRAGE
Taken, given:
friendships riven.

From shadow or shade,
it instantly puts paid
to hard-won clarities
and causes us to freeze
up with unearned righteousness;
it makes us less.
How much better to combat it.
We should take umbrage at it.
-2012
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