My friends

Anne Dalke's picture

have begun to send me the LOVELIEST poems about nature.
I figured: why not share?
Here are two of the most recent:

Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?
by Mary Oliver

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches
of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey,
hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning,
feel like?
   
Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?
   
Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over
the dark acorn of your heart!
   
No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!   
   
Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
continually?
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?
       
Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.
   
And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?
   
Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!
      
To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!
   
To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!
   
To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened
 
in the night
   
To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!   
    
Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?
   
While the soul, after all, is only a window,
 
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep. 
       
Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe
   
I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.
   
For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in! 
       
A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.
   
Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?
   
And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.
   
That was then, which hasn't ended yet.
   
Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.
   
I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.
----------------
Characteristics of Life
by Camille Dungy


A fifth of animals without backbones could be at risk of extinction, say scientists.
-BBC Nature News

Ask me if I speak for the snail and I will tell you
I speak for the snail.
                          speak of underneathedness
and the welcome of mosses,
                                        of life that springs up,
little lives that pull back and wait for a moment.

I speak for the damselfly, water skeet, mollusk,
the caterpillar, the beetle, the spider, the ant.
                                                        I speak
from the time before spinelessness was frowned upon.

Ask me if I speak for the moon jelly. I will tell you
                        one thing today and another tomorrow
        and I will be as consistent as anything alive
on this earth.

              I move as the currents move, with the breezes.

What part of your nature drives you? You, in 

   your cubicle

ought to understand me. I filter and filter and filter 

   all day.


Ask me if I speak for the nautilus and I will be silent
as the nautilus shell on a shelf. I can be beautiful
and useless if that's all you know to ask of me.

Ask me what I know of longing and I will speak of 

   distances
        between meadows of night-blooming flowers.
                                                        I will speak
                        the impossible hope of the firefly.

                                                You with the candle
burning and only one chair at your table must 

   understand
        such wordless desire.

                         To say it is mindless is missing the point.

 


Comments

Shengjia-Ashley's picture

They are nature writing

Still digesting unnatural writing...

To me, the two poems are both fluid, crafty and playful with the language. They both combined consciouness with imagination. They both foreground nature and arouse people's consciouness of nature. I believe the two poems are good examples of nature writing Synder is talking about.

I like the first one better. Oliver used various verbs that somehow make the poem more engaging and more visual for me.

Anne Dalke's picture

this is

the conundrum, isn't it? Snyder says that the best (truest?) nature writing is "unnatural."

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