Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wright, Oliver, Dunn, and Hirsch

Today I'm reading poetry. I brought a few books from home and every few minutes, I'll pick up a book and read at random. Here are some particularly good lines from some of the poems I've read today*:

"This is the earnest work. Each of us is given
only so many mornings to do it--
to look around and love

the oily fur of our lives,
the hoof and the grass-stained muzzle."

Mary Oliver, from "The Deer"

"Snub end of a dismal year,
deep in the dwarf orchard,
The sky with its undercoat of blackwash and point stars,
I stand in the dark and answer to
My life, this shirt I want to take off,
which is on fire . . ."

Charles Wright, from "Reading Lao Tzu Again in the New Year"

"I can't remember
ever saying the exact word, tenderness,

though she did. It's a word I see now
you must be older to use,
you must have experienced the absence of it

often enough to know what silk and deep balm
it is
when at last it comes."

Stephen Dunn, from "Tenderness"

And there's this one I read again today, by the poet Edward Hirsch (from a book Shannon the Great gave to me), about his cat that I'd love to put on here. But I can't. It's too long. It's about his cat and how much he loves him. As with any great poet, he doesn't come right out and say, "I love my cat. This is a poem about my cat and how much I love my cat." He illustrates a moment. And it's pretty damn beautiful.

Of course, I'm always tempted to write poems about my cats. Who isn't? But I haven't. Not yet anyway. I'm waiting for the perfect image to happen. Hirsch's poem is called "Wild Gratitude" and it's found in the collection of that same name, which I find particularly telling.

Here. I give in. Here are a few lines from it, just to give you a hint of the beauty that awaits you: "And only then did I understand / It is Jeoffry -- and every creature like him -- / Who can teach us how to praise -- purring / In their own language, / Wreathing themselves in the living fire."

It just so happens that I've given you the last stanza. Which is sort of cheating. But as with any good poem, you've got to read the whole thing to really appreciate the carefulness of it. To appreciate its precision.

*I have tried to keep the orginal formats of the poems, line breaks and all, but the publishing feature erases them as soon as I hit "publish post." I'm not savvy enough to figure out a way around this. For original format, see the original poem in a book.


Jodi said...

i just wrote a poem about my cats. it is a haiku. it goes like this.

I don't understand
I love you and feed you, yet
you pee on my stuff.

one or both of them is working on a new behavioral problem. guh.

Anonymous said...

Deararies327: Great insight on the poetry--and as it was outstanding insight, the highlight for me was the reference to "Shannon the Great!"

Aries327 said...

Jodi -- I love haikus. Poor cats. They must be stressed or something. I hope you guys work that out. :)

Shannon is great. Do you know her? I'm just glad she's still alive. Maybe she'll start a blog about 'the children' in her spare time.