Monday, March 14, 2005

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clear blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
--Mary Oliver

I like this poem. I like poetry. I wonder if I'll end up bearded and cosmic in my old age. Good chance of that if I live that long. My walking stick will be a gnarled cedar limb. My old sombrero will become my faded crown. Walt Whitman + Willie Nelson + __________. (You can fill in the blank under comments.) Eminem, Marvin Gaye, John Brown?


Anonymous said...

ahhh poetry... some poetry free association by some favorites...

O trees of life, when will your winter come?
We're never single-minded, unperplexed, like migratory birds. Outstript and late,
we suddenly thrust into the wind, and fall into unfeeling ponds. We comprehend
flowering and fading simulaneously.
And somewhere lions still roam, all unaware,
in being magnificent, of any weakness.
(from The Fourth Elegy, Rilke)

I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and an encloser of things to be.

My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs,
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps,
All duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount.

Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there,
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist,
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.

Long I was hugg'd close--long and long.

Immense have been the preparations for me,
Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me.

Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen,
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings,
They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.

Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me,
My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.

For it the nebula cohered to an orb,
The long slow strata piled to rest it on,
Vast vegetables gave it sustenance,
Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care.

All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete and delight me,
Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.
(from Song of Myself, Whitman)

and lastly, from my childhood
Overheard on a Saltmarsh by Harold Monro

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?

Green glass goblin. Why do you stare at them?

Give them me.


Give them me. Give them me.


Then I will howl all night in the reeds,
Lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than the stars or water,
Better than voices of winds that sing,
Better than any man's fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush, I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads, I want them.


I will howl in a deep lagoon
For your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me. Give them.


Chris Sand said...

Wow! Thanks for those gems... I think the last one (Munro) is my most favorite ever. Ever! Slimy and lyrical and astonishing. Who are you?

Anonymous said...

I am a secret (but I've been here before).
& here is a secret about me--
I am in love with bearded old men-- give me Walt Whitman and Gandalf any day, with long eyebrow hairs and big earlobes. Gnarled, calloused hands. Laugh wrinkles and easy big laughter.
I will make a fine old woman one day.

Chris Sand said...

Let's have tea in fifty years. My eye brows will be famously long.

Anonymous said...

It's a date. March 16, 2055. Where shall we meet?

Chris Sand said...

Sydney, Australia. At the Ballina Manor Bed & Breakfast. 2 pm. My treat... (Bring your scuba gear.)

Anonymous said...

Won't it be hard for you to wear your scuba mask with all those long white whiskers?
I don't care. I'll be there anyway.

Chris Sand said...

I won't need scuba gear, personally. I've got massive lung capacity and webbed feet.

Chris Sand said...

To bring this conversation full circle, I submit another Mary Oliver poem:

The Black Oaks

Okay, not one can write a symphony, or a dictionary,

or even a letter to an old friend, full of remembrance
and comfort.

Not one can manage a single sound though the blue jays
carp and whistle all day in the branches, without
the push of the wind.

But to tell the truth after a while I'm pale with longing
for their thick bodies ruckled with lichen

and you can't keep me from the woods, from the tonnage

of their shoulders, and their shining green hair.

Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a
little sunshine, a little rain.

Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from
one boot to another -- why don't you get going?

For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees.

And to tell the truth I don't want to let go of the wrists
of idleness, I don't want to sell my life for money,

I don't even want to come in out of the rain.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you will enjoy this one too

Chris Sand said...

wow, "In Defense of Walt Whitman" is now my new favorite. thanks!