Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Friends Meeting, Part 7 Wild Geese

When it was Sue's turn to share, she read a poem titled Wild Geese by Wendell Berry.

The Wild Geese
by Wendell Berry

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

I'd like to add another poem with the same title by Mary Oliver:

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

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 clean 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.

Two of my favorite poets have written poems about wild geese. I notice that whenever I see wild geese flying overhead I stop what I am doing and find myself transfixed by their spirits, their energy, their voices. My mind seems to jump a thousand feet in the air and my imagination begins to migrate north or south, depending on the season. Geese have the power to pull me out of my small human mind.

And, finally, to this Tuesday's meeting, Sue brought some exquisite white currants and scrumptious plums. Thanks Sue!


Delwyn said...

Hi Dan

I received my Amazon oder of Mary Oliver books and have been indulging myself greedily guzzling her poems. I love the way she so simply, succinctly, and without any bells and whistles puts into words how we the lovers of nature feel...
They are so accessible and so transporting.

What we need is here...

Happy days

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Delwyn—

Mary Oliver is a real treat. Prayers made from grass.

When I bought her most recent collection last spring it devoured it in two days.


steven said...

hi dan, mary oliver and wendell berry side-by-side. what riches!!! the wild geese are especially significant here as they signify the return of spring and then again the arrival of winter. the geese rest at a pond about three hundred metres from here as it is right under their flight path -to and from their spring and winter homes. have a peaceful day. steven

Dan Gurney said...

Yes, and wild geese have a way of lifting me up, momentarily, into the sky with them. Watching them pass overhead it's easy to forget we're so earthbound.

The Pollinatrix said...

Hi. I've been checking out your blog - I got here by way of a hazy moon.

You have two of my very favorite poets in one blog, so I'm sold.

And I love your "About Me." Very nice.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, P—

Thanks for stopping by MH. They're two of my favorites, too!