Bacon on the Bookshelf

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Sometimes It Is Necessary to Reteach a Thing Its Loveliness

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Do you ever wake up with a dream that stays with you for a while, into the morning and sometimes beyond? I love those dreams, even when they are sad or troubling, because it seems like they deliver something important from the mysterious unconscious or otherwise. I woke up to a poem by Galway Kinnell in my in-box recently that gave me a similar feeling and wanted to share it with you.

Saint Francis and the Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

*     *     *

Some days we need to receive the blessing – and some days, perhaps, we can give it to another.

And: is there something essential about motherhood that gives you a broken heart?

*     *     *

On the poet, Galway Kinnell:

Galway Kinnell was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on February 1, 1927. He published numerous books of poetry, including Strong Is Your Hold (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). His many honors include the National Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award. Kinnell served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2001 to 2007. He died on October 28, 2014.

 

*     *     *

Saint Francis, what a guy. You’ve heard his prayer – at least, the prayer attributed to him. It bears repeating:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

*     *     *

Copyright for image of magnolia: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_pilens’>pilens / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

6 Comments

  1. What a beautiful poem! Blessed down to the spiritual curl of our tails!

  2. Thank you Jennifer. What a great meditation for a Wednesday as the birds are chirping outside.

  3. St. Francis’ prayer sits by our back door! Thank you for sharing Galway Kinnell’s poem!

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