Jan 30, 2010 at 6:12 pm #1254678
James Sweeny posted some poems by Mary Oliver in the "Goose Down- Humane?" thread and since she is one of my favorite poets and her work focuses directly on the very world I live my life for and love when I go walking, I thought I'd start a thread for posting passages from poems and prose that reflects your feelings and experiences of the natural world.
Here's my first contribution:
Mary Oliver, Sleeping in the Forest
I thought the earth
remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.
Going to Walden
It isn't very far as highways lie.
I might be back by nightfall, having seen
The rough pines, and the stones, and the clear water.
Friends argue that I might be the wiser for it.
They do not hear that far-off Yankee whisper:
How dull we grow from hurrying here and there!
Many have gone, and think me half a fool
To miss a day away in the cool country.
Maybe. But in a book I read and cherish,
Going to Walden is not so easy a thing
As a green visit. It is the slow and difficult
Trick of living, and finding it where you are.Jan 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm #1568061
Fantastic!Jan 30, 2010 at 7:02 pm #1568062
by Mary Oliver
Under the leaves, under
the first loose
levels of earth
they're there — quick
as beetles, blind
as bats, shy
as hares but seen
less than these —
among the pale girders
of insects and black
pastures of bulbs
peppery and packed full
of the sweetest food:
Field after field
you can see the traceries
of their long
lonely walks, then
the rains blur
even this frail hint of them —
so willing to continue
generation after generation
but their brief physical lives
as they live and die,
pushing and shoving
with their stubborn muzzles against
the whole earth,
delicious.Jan 30, 2010 at 7:09 pm #1568065
by Mary Oliver
She steps into the dark swamp
where the long wait ends.
The secret slippery package
drops to the weeds.
She leans her long neck and tongues it
between breaths slack with exhaustion
and after a while it rises and becomes a creature
like her, but much smaller.
So now there are two. And they walk together
like a dream under the trees.
In early June, at the edge of a field
thick with pink and yellow flowers
I meet them.
I can only stare.
She is the most beautiful woman
I have ever seen.
Her child leaps among the flowers,
the blue of the sky falls over me
like silk, the flowers burn, and I want
to live my life all over again, to begin again,
to be utterly
wild.Jan 30, 2010 at 7:10 pm #1568066
Dondo .BPL Member
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
Keep it going, guys. I'm really enjoying this.Jan 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm #1568096
For the Children by Gary Snyder
The rising hills, the slopes,
lie before us,
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
In the next century
or the one beyond that,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.
To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:
learn the flowers
go lightJan 30, 2010 at 8:16 pm #1568097
George, I'd never paid attention to "A Meeting". What a sublime poem. Breathtaking, almost. I've fallen in love with that woman.Jan 30, 2010 at 8:55 pm #1568099
Dondo .BPL Member
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,
The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:
The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,
The wide creek, the mist-blurred grass.
The moss is slippery, though there's been no rain
The pine sings, but there's been no wind.
Who can leap the world's ties
And sit with me among the white clouds?
translated by Gary SnyderJan 31, 2010 at 1:30 pm #1568237
Donna CBPL Member
@leadfootLocale: Middle Virginia
Entering the Kingdom-Mary Oliver
The crows see me.
They stretch their glossy necks
In the tallest branches
Of green trees. I am
Possibly dangerous, I am
Entering the kingdom.
The dream of my life
Is to lie down by a slow river
And stare at the light in the trees—
To learn something by being nothing
A little while but the rich
Lens of attention.
But the crows puff up their feathers and cry
Between me and the sun,
And I should go now.
They know me for what I am.
No eater of leaves.Jan 31, 2010 at 11:47 pm #1568458
There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.
If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.
And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.
He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.Jan 31, 2010 at 11:49 pm #1568459
GLORY be to God for dappled things,
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow,
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced, fold, fallow and plough,
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange,
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim.
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
Praise him.Jan 31, 2010 at 11:54 pm #1568460
Bring me men to match my mountains;
Bring me men to match my plains, —
Men with empires in their purpose,
And new eras in their brains.
Bring me men to match my praries,
Men to match my inland seas,
Men whose thought shall pave a highway
Up to ampler destinies;
Pioneers to clear Thought's marshlands,
And to cleanse old Error's fen;
Bring me men to match my mountains —
Bring me men!
Bring me men to match my forests,
Strong to fight the storm and blast,
Branching toward the skyey future,
Rooted in the fertile past.
Bring me men to match my valleys,
Tolerant of sun and snow,
Men within whose fruitful purpose
Time's consummate blooms shall grow.
Men to tame the tigerish instincts
Of the lair and cave and den,
Cleans the dragon slime of Nature —
Bring me men!
Bring me men to match my rivers,
Continent cleavers, flowing free,
Drawn by the eternal madness
To be mingled with the sea;
Men of oceanic impulse,
Men whose moral currents sweep
Toward the wide-enfolding ocean
Of an undiscovered deep;
Men who feel the strong pulsation
Of the Central Sea, and then
Time their currents to its earth throb —
Bring me men!Feb 1, 2010 at 12:00 am #1568463
At dawn when the dew has built its tents
on the grass, will you come to my grave
and sprinkle bread crumbs
from an enchanted kitchen?
Will you remember me down there
with my eyes shattered
and my ears broken
and my tongue turned to shadows?
Will you remember that I went to the graves
of many people and always knew I was buried
And afterwards as I walked home to where
it was warm, I did not kid myself about
a God-da*n thing.
Will you remember that one day
I went to your grave and you had been dead
for many years, and no one thought
about you any more,
Will you remember that we are fragile gifts
from a star, and we break?
Will you remember that we are pain
waiting to scream, holes
waiting to be dug, and
tears waiting to
* * *
And will you remember that after you have gone
from my grave, birds will come
and eat the bread?Feb 1, 2010 at 12:06 am #1568464
"The Castle of the Cormorants"
under his arm
She was still
wet from drowning.
She looked like
a white flower
that had been
left in the
rain too long.
I love you,
and I love
February 1958Feb 1, 2010 at 12:07 am #1568465
"Late Starting Dawn"
It's a late starting dawn that breathes my vision,
inhales and exhales the sound of waking birds
and pokes ten miles of cold gray sky at a deer
standing alone in a meadow.Feb 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm #1568596
It's a rough draft, just completed, so forgive the, er, roughness of it…
To help occupy myself while in mourning, I decided to go on a short overnight hike. The woods and the water and the clear, cold air of the nearby mountains around the Rubicon River are always invigorating. And my vigor was in need of, well, invigorating. I needed to get away from home and go somewhere to be more naturally alone, to breathe and recconnect with the forces of nature.
The Rubicon is not very far away, as the crow flies, but it is remote in feeling and effect due to the steepness and roughness of the terrain. Not many people go there because there are beautiful areas with nicer trails and more convenient footing equally close by. The Rubicon is thus wild.
As I left the trail and began roughing it through the brush, cutting a slightly sideways angle down the steep canyon, I paused on a sort of flat spot, a kind of ledge in the canyon side with a couple of bare granite boulders along the edge, framing the view up the canyon to the plunge pools and cataracks below. I sighed and took a sip of water and was startled as a raven landed atop one of the boulders, breaking the silence of the moment with his wing beats. For a long moment from about fifteen feet away, the raven just stood atop his boulder, and we eyed each other. I was standing there with half raised water bottle, still staring in the direction of the raven when he abruptly took wing and arced down into the canyon and was soon gone.
"Better get going," I said to myself, breaking a sort of bubble of tension, "if I'm going to get there before dark."
I didn't see any more ravens and gradually found myself deep in the rocky canyon at the little opening I was aiming for: a nice, sandy and flat area adjacent to long, deep run in the little river. Four casts yielded two plump, wild trout. I cleaned them and promptly got a fire started. It would be dark soon.
As I was enjoying the perfectly cooked trout, pulling succulent chunks from the foil in which it was wrapped while cooking on the fire, I thought about how much Kiki always enjoyed sharing trout with me. She never begged, but she was always by my side, and would delicately accept each piece from my hand, never lunging or snapping at it, but simply grasping it gently as I held it to her mouth, purring immediately in appreciation and flashing those beautiful golden eyes back at me. As I was thinking this and tears slowly formed and ran down my face, I thought I saw a shadow just beyond the fire. I wiped an eye and looked out, but saw nothing. For a few seconds I just sat there, holding the steaming foil package in one hand as the fire slowly popped and the river lapped at the shore and the rocks midstream, the rapids below a distantly echoing rumble. Then, as I took another bite of trout, I saw a shape sitting just beyond the fire. A cat.
My heart jumped. What? How? No. It must just be my imagination. I was thinking of my dear Kiki, missing her so much that now my mind is – Oh! It moved. It IS a cat.
I sat there staring. Staring at the immistakeable shape of a cat just past the fire, sitting just like Kiki. In my ears I could only hear my heart pounding. I kept staring and the cat, though I could not see her eyes, was just sitting there, staring back at me.
"Kiki?" I said, weakly, almost a croak.
The cat's left ear twitched once. We sat there staring at each other across the fire. I'm not sure how long it had been, but I took a breath, a gasp, like coming to the surface of a deep pool. The cat's ear twitched again, but she did not move.
Some time passed. I'm not sure how long we just sat there that way.
I brought the foil up to my mouth without taking my eyes off the cat and took a bite, and the cat took a short, tentative step forward, then resumed her posture.
The piece of trout sat in my mouth, which remained open for a couple of seconds, my hand still holding the trout to my mouth. I swallowed the trout and again but with more energy, perhaps some foolish hope this time, "Kiki?"
The cat seemed to nod at me, the way Kiki often did when gazing back at me. I couldn't see, but I imagined her eyes flashed, a soft blink, the way Kiki's always did when she gave her nodding acknowledgement.
The cat stepped forward again around the edge of the fire's glow, coming towards me on my right. She paused and stepped closer still.
Coming into the light and closer to me, I suddenly could see her face and her eyes clearly and sighed deeply.
A single heavy sob. It was not Kiki. I felt stupid and broken. My shoulders sank with my heart.
I sat there by the fire, holding my trout, back sagging and looked directly into the eyes of a beautiful bobcat.
She looked back at me just like Kiki used to, and she nodded and flashed her eyes the same way, too. It was–eerie.
She was now only about three feet away from me. I could see that she was much larger than Kiki, who was only nine pounds at her heaviest. This bobcat had to be around twenty pounds, at least.
I held the trout out toward her, and she stepped forward, keeping her eyes on me, and took a ginger bite.
She swallowed the bite of trout, flashed her eyes with a slight nod and began purring.Feb 2, 2010 at 4:14 pm #1569023
Andrew LushBPL Member
@lushyLocale: Lake Mungo, Mutawintji NPs
"Me And The Eagle" – Steve Earle
The eagle looked down on the river below
And he wrapped his wings round him and he fell like a stone
And the big salmon fought but the talons held true
And he shuddered as the world turned from silver to blue
I stood there in awe though I'd seen it before
I was born in these mountains and I'll die here for sure
I've traveled around I've seen city lights
But nothin' that shined like the big sky at night
Some mornings will find me up above the timberline
Lonesome don't seem like much once you're this high
When it's all said and done I usually find
Me and the eagle are of the same mind
Now when I was young I took me a wife
But she never took to the high country life
So now I'm alone I don't really mind
But her name echoes down from the canyon sometimes
In my dreams there's a horse, he stands eighteen hands high
He's as white as the snow and there's fire in his eyes
And he'll bare only me though others have tried
And together we'll travel up across the divide
REPEAT CHORUSFeb 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm #1569026
Andrew LushBPL Member
@lushyLocale: Lake Mungo, Mutawintji NPs
"Front Lines" – Gary Snyder
The edge of the cancer
Swells against the hill-we feel
a foul breeze-And it sinks back down.
The deer winter here
A chainsaw growls in the gorge.
Ten wet days and the log trucks stop,
The trees breathe.
Sunday the 4-wheel jeep of the
Realty Company brings in
Landseekers, lookers, they say
To the land,
Spread your legs.
The jets crack sound overhead, it's OK
Every pulse of the rot at the heart
In the sick fat veins of Amerika
Pushes the edge up closer–
A bulldozer grinding and slobbering
Sideslipping and belching on top of
The skinned-up bodies of still-live bushes
In the pay of a man
Behind is a forest that goes to the Arctic
And a desert that still belongs to the
And here we must draw
As the crickets' soft autumn hum
is to us
so are we to the trees
as are they
to the rocks and the hills.Feb 2, 2010 at 6:00 pm #1569081
Wish You Were Here
by Pink Floyd
So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.Feb 2, 2010 at 6:15 pm #1569094
i carry your heart with me
by E. E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)Feb 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm #1569369
"Just a minute," said a voice…
by Mary Oliver
"Just a minute," said a voice in the weeds.
So I stood still
in the day's exquisite morning light
and so I didn't crush with my great feet
any small or unusual thing just happening to pass by
where I was passing by
on my way to the blueberry fields,
and maybe it was the toad
and maybe it was the June beetle
and maybe it was the pink and tender worm
who does his work without limbs or eyes
and does it well
or maybe it was the walking stick, still frail
and walking humbly by, looking for a tree,
or maybe, like Blake's wondrous meeting, it was
the elves, carrying one of their own
on a rose-petal coffin away, away
into the deep grasses. After awhile
the quaintest voice said, "Thank you." And then there was silence.
For the rest, I would keep you wondering.Feb 5, 2010 at 9:35 pm #1570305
obx hikerBPL Member
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
In the time of my confession
in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet
flood every newborn seed
There's a dyin' voice within me
reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger
and the morals of despair.
Don't have the inclination to
look back on any mistake,
I now behold this chain
of events that I must break.
In the fury of the moment
I can see the Master's hand
In every leaf that trembles
in every grain of sand.
Oh, the flowers of indulgence
and the weeds of yesteryear,
they have choked the breath
of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps
of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness
and the memory of decay.
I gaze into the doorway of
temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way
I always hear my name.
Then onward in my journey
I come to understand
That every hair is numbered
like every grain of sand
I have gone from rags to riches
in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer's dream,
in the chill of a wintry light,
In the bitter dance of loneliness
fading into space,
In the broken mirror of innocence
on each forgotten face.
I hear the ancient footsteps like
the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn,
there's someone there
other times it's only me.
I am hanging in the balance
of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling,
like every grain of sand.
Bob Dylan @ 1981Feb 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm #1571318
Epitaph to a Dog (Lord Byron)
Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.
This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
BOATSWAIN, a DOG,
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803,
and died at Newstead Nov.r 18th, 1808.
Epitaph to a Dear Friend
saw sad untimely end of one
possessing unequaled Felicity,
rarest Beauty without Vanity,
Wonderment for life beyond compare,
as well Courage, Trust and Vitality,
in truth more Virtue than any person bore.
This praise, which would seem the merest Flattery
if offered to one of human form,
is but a too thin shadow of
my dearest KIKI, a CAT,
who feral born and found in August, 2003,
has died in loving arms February 6th, 2010.Feb 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm #1571349
obx hikerBPL Member
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Your post reminded me of this little tongue-in-cheek prayer.
Lord Help me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.
AmenFeb 26, 2010 at 9:58 am #1578962
Brad posted a link to http://www.lifeonleconte.com in the thread Conditions of A.T. in the Smoky Mtns.
Found this in the blog on lifeonleconte.com
David Witherspoon's "Song Of the Winter Wren"
Curving up from the shelter toward the overlook over a surface strewn with green amputations by wind, I look over my shoulder: a planet of electric light. And closer the high heave of dark mountain forest, birthplace of streams. Snowlight, starlight, no moon this side of earth. Feel my fear and walk, breathing. Hear an airplane and freeze. Walk and hear a tree pop, far away in nowhere, deep in wilderness. Ignore hallucinated voices. Breathe and walk on soft-frozen innocence, through tree-shadow and tarlight: gunch, gunch, gunch, gunch. Full moon rises as I go to bed. When I close my eyes, I am still out there, walking the gentle earth.
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