Thursday, June 19, 2008

Little Summer Poem Touching The Subject Of Faith

I read, well, this is an understatement, a lot of poems. I've never found a better poem for the Summer Solstice than this one. When you read it, it helps to know that Oliver's talking about corn, although corn is not the subject of the poem.

Every summer
I listen and look
under the sun's brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can't hear

anything, I can't see anything --
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,

nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
And still,
every day,

the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker --
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk.

And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing --
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,

the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet --
all of it
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.

And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hidden in the dirt

swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?

One morning
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body
is sure to be there.

From West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems, by Mary Oliver. Published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. Copyright 1997 by Mary Oliver.

Picture found here.


Meridy M said...

Thank you so much for posting this. It warmed my heart and made me smile. Do you know this poem? It's one I read often, especially at Yule. I knew its author once back a while but have lost touch with her.

The Solstice Wreath

The grim news has come to my attention
that something in the world has come unfixed —
owls no longer haunt the fir lined alley
appearing out of the dreamtime as we pass,

indeed whole souls have gone missing, as if being
has itself gone dim — like an old man’s seeing.
A vital light is missing from the world, by which I mean
that ephemeral gold that spins the seen

and unseen worlds together. In my life
I don’t expect to see a springtime swelling
of the shriveled nut so many spirits
have become. What’s to be done?

This is the winter solstice of an age,
although the season’s worst is yet to come.
What’s delicate and true has come undone:
is the only fitting answer
a pure and focused rage?

Today I wove a wreath of bone and fir
and filbert withes, twined in sacred holly,
incense cedar from an ancient tree.
I wove, affixed a star, and spoke a spell:

“Let this circle stand as the gate of winter
sure passage to the days of lengthening light.”
And then I whispered names in the fragrant bough
Lacing love like a scarlet ribbon through the fronds.

Long I wove and dreamed back friends and kin,
each great soul calling back the sun.
I thought at last, “My life here is not done.”
And some bright star rekindled from within. . .

Sandra Michaelson Brown

Carlo said...

Good Job!: )