“The Student Theme” by Ronald Wallace
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
The Student Theme
The adjectives all ganged up on the nouns, insistent, loud, demanding, inexact, their Latinate constructions flashing. The pronouns lost their referents: They were dangling, lacked the stamina to follow the prepositions' lead in, on, into, to, toward, for, or from. They were beset by passive voices and dead metaphors, conjunctions shouting But! or And! The active verbs were all routinely modified by adverbs, that endlessly and colorlessly ran into trouble with the participles sitting on the margins knitting their brows like gerunds (dangling was their problem, too). The author was nowhere to be seen; was off somewhere.
from The Uses of Adversity, 1998
University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA
Copyright 1998 by Ronald Wallace.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Ronald Wallace from The Uses of Adversity. Copyright 1998 by Ronald Wallace. For further permissions information, contact Rights and Permissions Department, University of Pittsburgh Press, Eureka Building / Fifth Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.pitt.edu/?press.
About the Poet
Ronald Wallace (1945- ) is the author of eight poetry collections, including For a Limited Time Only (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008). Wallace was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and raised in St. Louis.
Learn more about Ronald Wallace at The Poetry Foundation.