Wild Poetry

Here are a few of the poems that we’ve looked at in the circle

Poem for a grandchild

Let no-one hurry her.
Give her the rare, the incomparable gift of time.
Days to dream, dragonfly days, days when the kingfisher suddenly opens for her a window on wonder.
Let no-one chivvy her.
Let her meander lark happy through childhood, by fern-curled stream fringed butter yellow with kingcups, by secret ways that paws have worn through the wild.
Give her cuckoo-loud days, and the owls cry by night.
Give her rainbows; show her a nest filled with sky-blue promises; scoop up the sounding oceans for her in a shell.
Let her keep her dreams so she will always turn her face to the light.
Live merrily, love well; hold out ungloved hands to flower and child, be easy with animals, come to terms with time.
Let her keep her dreams.
Let her riches be remembered happy days.

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.
Mary Oliver


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 your 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


‘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‘

WB Yeats
The Lake Isle of Innisfree


Nuptial Song by Susana Thénon

I have married
I have married myself
I’ve said yes
a yes that took years to arrive
years of unspeakable suffering
of crying with the rain
of shutting myself in my room
because I—the great love of my existence—
did not call myself
did not write myself
did not visit myself
and at times
when I’d get up the courage to call myself
to say ‘hello, am I well?’
I wouldn’t come to the phone

I even put myself
on a list of pains-in-the-neck
I didn’t want to talk with
because they drove me nuts
because they wouldn’t let me alone
because they backed me into corners
because I couldn’t stand them

in the end I didn’t even pretend
when I asked if I was there

I let myself know
that I was fed up with myself

and one day I stopped calling myself
and stopped calling myself

and so much time
went by that I missed me
so I said
how long has it been since I called?
it must be ages
and I called myself and I answered
and I couldn’t believe it
because though it’s hard to believe
I hadn’t healed
I’d only been bleeding
then I said ‘hello, is that me?’
It’s me, I said, and added:
It’s been a long time since we heard
I of myself or myself of me

would I like to come over?

yes, I said

and we met again
in peace

and I felt good with myself
and myself as well
felt good with me
and so
day after day
I married and I married
and I am together
and not even Death can me part


A prose piece taken from Long Life by Mary Oliver

In the shapeliness of a life, habit plays it’s sovereign role. The religious literally wear it. Most people take action by habit in small things more often than in important things, for it’s the simple matters that get done readily, while the more sombre and interesting, taking more effort and being more complex, often must wait for another day. Thus, we could improve ourselves quite well by habit., by it’s judicious assistance, but it’s more likely that habits rule us.

The bird in the forest or the fox on the hill has no such opportunity to forgo the important for the trivial, Habit, for these, is also the garment they wear, and indeed the very structure of their body life. It’s now or never for all their vitalities – bonding, nest building, raising a family, migrating or putting on the deeper coat of winter – all is done on time and with devoted care, even if events contain also playfulness, grace and humour, those inseparable spirits of vitality. Neither does the tree hold back its leaves but lets them flow open or glide away when the time is right. Neither does water make it’s own decision about freezing or not; that moment rests with the rule of temperatures.

Men and women of faith who pray – that is, who come to a certain assigned place, at definite times, and are not abashed to go down on their knees – will not tarry for the cup of coffee or the newsbreak or the end of the movie when the moment arrives. The habit, then, has become their life. The hours are appointed and named; they are the Lord’s. Fife’s fretfulness is transcended. The different and the novel are sweet but regularity and repetition are also teachers. Divine attentiveness cannot be kept casually, or visited only in season like Venice or Switzerland. Or, perhaps it can, but then how attentive is it? And if you have no ceremony, no habits, which may be opulent or may be simple but are exact and rigorous and familiar, how can you reach toward the actuality of faith, or even a moral life, except vaguely? The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us. Our battles with our habits speak of dreams yet to become real. I would like to be like the fox, earnest in devotion and humour both, or the brave compliant pond shutting it’s heavy door for the long winter. But, not yet have I reached that bright life or that white happiness – not yet.


Diving into the Wreck

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.

it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Adrienne Rich