Ordering Information: Bookstores and Individuals


Course Adoption


Follow Us on Facebook

Copyright © 2000-   WordTech Communications, LLC

Privacy Policy

Site design: Skeleton

Sample Poems by Ann Taylor

Most Renowned

At sixteen, I'm not fit for the grit
of the crops or the milking barn,
so I practice placement of my lady's fork,
fashion a flattering wimple.
In the spinning whisper of distaff
thread to spindle, I earn peace,
but endure girls' chatter about
the cathedral school's boy tutor.
I hate the abbey - home, school,
prison. I hate dawn arisings,
day's round of tedium,
night's slow crawl to dawn.
I love only the library,
and on rare good nights,
the turn-key dozing early,
I squirrel manuscripts to my cell.
By candlelight, I craft letters to Cicero,
spring, with Athena, from the head of Zeus,
suffer Dido's jilting, mourn Magdalene's sin.
With Atropos, I snip life's short thread.
Already called belle et sage,
I scale these high walls,
travel uncircumscribed
with Odysseus, the Prodigal Son.

These nights, I dream of a scholar
who will venture with me,
name me most renowned . . .
speak, alive to me.

The Art of Love

In the silence of Fulbert's library,
we set out for dialectic,
Latin polish, model letters'
hails and farewells,
but by the glow of candlelight,
the fire heating, incense
wafting from the chapel,
our text turns to tryst.
Ovid becomes our panderer.
At first faithful to conjugations,
we become his story,
take his meaning over manner.
He prescribes the slow sliding close,
the discrete brushing of the fly
from the breast, the tears (even if by
sticking a finger into an eye).
When one of us declares,
You are in my heart forever,
and the other responds, You will remain
my love for eternity,
we prove ourselves most docile,
most attentive close readers,
instructed by the best in love's
thrilling and devious art.

Courtly Love

In this new library, better-stacked than
my imaginings, open to any thought,
I live a girl's dream.
With my Abelard, I outpace
any journey pictured
beyond the walls of Argenteuil.
My Latin makes him smile,
my debate about God's mercy
stirs his approval . . . even his tears.
Ovid instructs. We obey.
And with time, move easily from touches,
. . . bolt the classroom door.
I'm already schooled in secrecy,
perfected those many nights
when illicit reading was to me like breath.
And I'm reconciled to deceit,
though guilty, yes, for the insult
to my kind uncle.
I must live this book-fueled love . . .
prove Ovid's wisdom, Psalms' ecstasy,
my own narrative.
Isn't my love for him
simply heaven's caritas
manifest in us, here on earth?

A Bawdy Story

Was it swagger or my simple mind
that cast me in the script
of a thousand cheap tales?
The young doctor treats the sick wife daily,
while outside the bedroom door
the duped husband awaits her cure.
The lover hides under the comforter,
behind the curtain, in the pantry.
The handy student beds the willing spouse.
Fulbert freed me to strike her
for attention, but my strokes became
fake discipline to deceive an old man.
Eager to read, she was no flirt,
though in beauty, not among the lowest
(my foolish under-estimate).
Now I measure minutes to our next lesson,
neglect my students, compose love's ecstasy
echoing through Paris streets.
Without her, my lux becomes nox.
I care nothing for the smirks,
the not-so-quiet whispers.
Smiling tutor, I play my part,
parsing ablatives, false
to everyone but her.

Caught in the Act

No! What I see cannot be --
the door ajar inviting me to enter,
the scene within driving me
back to the hall's blindness --
all our lives unhinged . . .
Is this the honored tutor,
lodged by me in my own home,
the one chosen for genius and kindness of heart?
Is this my niece . . . yes, niece,
but child no longer, exposed by me
to peril I could not foresee?
And I? Uncle? Benefactor? Or better, Fool?
The duped old bouffon
in the most bawdy of common tales?
We all scramble to reclaim
the pretend balance, the mock study,
make-believe sincerity --
he to drawing a finger across bookshelf titles,
she to tears as she re-fashions her dignity,
me to silence . . . not as before to avoid
breaking up a lesson, but to contain
my wrath, stoked hotter by the moment.