A Poetic Interlude

January 8, 2013 NaturePoetry  8 comments

I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to write about, and a poem came to mind, so I decided to do that, instead.

This is a poem that I think of in winter, always, I’m not sure why.  Wendell Berry is a definitively Kentucky writer, one I saw speak a few years ago.


The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

– Wendell Berry


I quoted a bit of this poem yesterday, which put it in my mind, so I had to go and look it up:

The World is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

– William Wordsworth

I seem to be on a nature-related spin here, so I’ll continue.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

– William Butler Yeats

And finally, one of the Dickinson poems I know by heart.

TO make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,—
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

– Emily Dickinson




8 comments to A Poetic Interlude

  • sirqsmlb  says:

    I’d never seen the Berry poem, but loved it!


    • MsConstanceExplains  says:

      It’s a lovely poem, isn’t it? I love the part about “who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.” It’s a good reminder for all of us, I think.

  • Wordwytch  says:

    I love your selections. I have a quote from a Henry Beston book, that I love.
    Touch the earth, love the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places. For the gifts of life are the earth’s and they are given to all, and they are the songs of birds at daybreak, Orion and the Bear, and the dawn seen over the ocean from the beach.

    • MsConstanceExplains  says:

      That’s lovely, too. I really love poems like that, the ones that really capture the sense of nature. I’ve posted it before, but do you remember James Dickey’s The Heaven of Animals? It’s SO much about D/s to me, too:

      Here they are. The soft eyes open.
      If they have lived in a wood
      It is a wood.
      If they have lived on plains
      It is grass rolling
      Under their feet forever.

      Having no souls, they have come,
      Anyway, beyond their knowing.
      Their instincts wholly bloom
      And they rise.
      The soft eyes open.

      To match them, the landscape flowers,
      Outdoing, desperately
      Outdoing what is required:
      The richest wood,
      The deepest field.

      For some of these,
      It could not be the place
      It is, without blood.
      These hunt, as they have done,
      But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

      More deadly than they can believe.
      They stalk more silently,
      And crouch on the limbs of trees,
      And their descent
      Upon the bright backs of their prey

      May take years
      In a sovereign floating of joy.
      And those that are hunted
      Know this as their life,
      Their reward: to walk

      Under such trees in full knowledge
      Of what is in glory above them,
      And to feel no fear,
      But acceptance, compliance.
      Fulfilling themselves without pain

      At the cycle’s center,
      They tremble, they walk
      Under the tree,
      They fall, they are torn,
      They rise, they walk again.

      I *love* the phrase, “a sovereign floating of joy…” It also always makes me think of Bradbury’s, “A Medicine for Melancholy or The Sovereign Remedy Revealed!”

      Maybe I just like the word sovereign.

      • Wordwytch  says:

        I don’t remember the poem by Dickey, but will look it up.

  • vanillamom  says:

    LOVE the Wendell Berry poem…I’ve heard parts of it used during U.U. church services…what a great reminder to just “be” sometimes…

    • MsConstanceExplains  says:

      Isn’t it funny how a poem, or a phrase from a poem, will strike us? Sometimes it’s hearing a poem read, too. There’s a poem I memorized when I was a kid, which my mother knew, too, called “The Day is Done,” it’s longish poem, but the part I was thinking of is this:

      Such songs have power to quiet
      The restless pulse of care,
      And come like the benediction
      That follows after prayer.

      Then read from the treasured volume
      The poem of thy choice,
      And lend to the rhyme of the poet
      The beauty of thy voice.

      I love that, the concept of lending to the rhyme the beauty of the voice. I firmly believe poetry needs to be heard, not read, to be understood and treasured.

      • vanillamom  says:

        nodding…yes, very much so…the rise and fall of the voice brings the poem to full life. I will remember forever my 5th grade teacher who read the “cloud of daffodils upon the hill” to us…the passion of her voice is something I will always remember, tho I’ve long forgotten her name…


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