Jacqueline Osherow


To Mary Sidney, On Reading Her Psalms

You give me a little courage, Mary,
in your skittish dedication to her highness;
I too can dare as humbleness may dare;
if there’ s anywhere to speak with you, it’ s here
at the wordy Anglo-Saxon periphery
of the universe’ s one great surge of praise

though I’ m lost here. Where’ s the joyful noise?
the syllables I managed to memorize
before they were weighted down by meaning?
and what’ s all this complicated rhyme?
Don’ t mistake me — I’ m not complaining;
it’ s just not my notion of a psalm