Dominion of Names

An eagle eyes the prey, whose name he never knows, 

Yet every pedant sees there’s a murder of crows, 

Lamentable swans, Parliamentary owls, 

A charming of hummers, unkindness of ravens; 

What isn't well known is, who were the mavens? 

Who, following Adam, named these collections?


What impulse drove, directed poets 

To malign the crow and raven, respect the owl; 

What purpose was served feeling the sadness of swans,

 Delighting in the humming of fairies? 

When approached from Bryher, Tresco or Hugh Town, 

Land’s End is really its beginning, 

Newfoundland is newly found 

only to those who never knew of it, 

the antipodes are anti only to those 

whose head and feet are obverse; 

From Hong Kong, the near, middle and far east 

must be Hawaii, Mexico and Rome.


Would calling a bed a puffiness of pillows 

add softness, comfort, make our sleep more certain,  

our rest much more restoring; sex more satisfying? 

What indeed is in a name? 

Have we the will to relax, let go of language, 

Wait for the bud  to open, bloom, 

intoxicate us with its fragrance; 

To revel in its grace and assert no naming power? 

Would we lose something of ourselves,  

our humanity, in being so detached? 

Nothing has a name ‘til some determined I 

distinguishes, imposing upon it some expression, 

creates an otherness defined by one impression

perspective and character, by judgement.

Each label declares a point of view, 

perspective, some might even say, a bias. 

Assumes ownership, asserts control, shapes imagination.

Naming secures our relationship to things,  

We inculcate ourselves and others to accept  

that relationship as a norm, a godlike 

Compass point, polaris. fixed, unchallengeable; 

Makes absolute the solitary truth of one  

Vision, Frame, perspective, viewpoint. 

Through nothing more substantial  

than hubris, expelled air, and is 

We cast ourselves imposters of the gods, 

Creators of the Dominion of Names. 

 © Philip Knight 2018