Monday, January 30, 2012

Nature's Poetry

White Owl,  yahoo/NYT photo image. They look so soft and lovely. 
When I read fantastic stories about the wonders of nature, like the recent rare phenomenon of flocks of white owls flying further south than usual across the US, or see photos of our earth and planets taken by Voyager or other intrepid spacecraft sent from earth decades ago, I am mesmerized.  Enthralled. 

       I absorb the news with a stunned reverence for the natural beauty that surrounds us.  I wish I could write about it like poet Mary Oliver, whose poems make nature's bounty--a flock of geese, white owls, black bears, mountains, rivers,and wild flowers--come alive in our very being and way of seeing.  My cousin Leo’s wife Kathy noted, when she sent me Oliver’s poetry in Ukraine, “Oliver is so gifted at illuminating the universal truths in small particulars—especially particulars of nature.”   Here’s an Oliver poem that came to mind when I read about those beautiful white Owls venturing further South than normal:

Snow Geese by Mary Oliver (New & Selected Poems, Vol.2  Beacon, 2005)

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!  
   What a task
      To ask

Of anything, or anyone,

Yet it is ours,
   And not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I  heard
    Above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

A flock of snow geese, winging it
     Faster than the ones we usually see,
And, being the color of snow, catching the sun

So they were, in part at least, golden.  I 
Held my breath
As we do
Sometimes
To stop time
When something wonderful
Has touched us

As with a match
Which is lit, and bright,
But does not hurt
In the common way,
But delightfully
As if delight
Were the most serious thing
You ever felt.

The geese
flew on.
I have never seen them again.

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters
Is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
As through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.


Photo of White Geese flying by howardsview.com, yahoo images. 
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