Desperate lovliness


BY Carl Sandburg

There is a desperate lovliness to be seen
In certain flowers and bright weeds on certain planets.
With the weeds I have held long conversations
And I found them intelligent
Even though desperate and lovely.
The flowers however met me with shortspoken,
“Yes” and “No” and “Why”were their favorite words,
And they had other slow monosyllables.
They seemed to find it more difficult
Than the gaudy garrulous bright weeds
To be intelligent, desperate, and lovely.
Take a far journey now, my friend, to certain planets.
Meet then certain flowers and bright weeds and ask them
What are the dark winding roots of their desperate lovliness.
See whether you bring back the same report as mine.
See whether certain long conversations
And certain slow practices monosyllables
Haunt you and keep coming back to haunt you.
For myself, my friend, I have come to believe on certain planets anything can happen.

I think that “loveliness” always has desperate, winding roots. Most of my clinical practice was in an alternative school and this adolescents could best be described as the “weeds” that Sandburg described here. It was stunning to see how astute and intelligent so many of them were even though often they were such failures in mainstream classrooms.



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