Tuesday, September 11, 2007

wild geese above me

Wild Geese

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.

Mary Oliver

My friend Anna says she always feels a relentless ennui when fall arrives. For me autumn cools off my bones and helps rearrange my brain cells in their original order. My clearer head usually then sees the landscape in poetry instead of prose. Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets and whenever I hear the geese fly over I'm reminded of these words.

Monday I found this book of children's poetry by British poet John Drinkwater at an antique store in White Bear Lake, the lake in the photo above. I had originally picked it up thinking it would be great for an altered book journal but when I brought it home and read it cover to cover, I don't think I want to change a thing. The illustrations by H.M. Brock are whimsical and very 1930-ish. (You can click on each scan for a easier-to-read view.) This poem, also called "Changes" really spoke to me regarding our abrupt change of seasons here in Minnesota as well as the 'window-wide' view of summer. Tonight I brought in the tender plants and covered the tomato plant I've been babying since May because we're expecting some frost. Like Julie said, she's barely mourned the passing of her flowers. Oh dear.


teabird said...

I love this poem - Mary Oliver is an amazing poet. Thanks for sharing the photograph, too!

Marianne said...

Not only can I see this and hear it I can feel it across my skin and deep in my bones.

Marianne said...

I love these illustrations. Thanks for adding them.

Julie Marie said...

I love vintage illustrations like these. I collect vintage children's storybooks for their great illustrations.


Granny Smith said...

What a charming book! It takes me back to childhood memories. I love the illustrations.

I've always said autumn is my favorite season, perhaps because of living so many years according to the academic year. To me it seems to be the season of new beginnings. I have always loved school, and I still audit a class at the university now and then.