Vitality, connection, contribution…great food for thought! Last year, I resolved to not make old lady noises when I am getting out of a chair. I must say, just being mindful about it really worked. I’m ready to dig deeper!
I am not in Maui. Am in Seattle. I was in Maui over the summer.
Claire, thank you for speaking true words about the tens of billions of sentient animals humans breed, confine, mutilate, kill, and eat on an industrialized scale each year. Leo, as you might’ve guessed, I think your poem is fantastic (and reminds me of Zbigniew Herbert’s Mr Cogito Reads the Newspaper).
Happy 2022 to all.
Thank you, DBD. Just read the Herbert poem about ‘the arithmetic of compassion’ – what a line! Mine was inspired by Catalina’s post yesterday which, in turn, was inspired by one of yours. Happy New Year!
P.S. The title of my post today (Purring in my Own Language, Wreathing Myself in the Living Fire) is taken from Edward Hirsch’s Wild Gratitude poem, pasted below for the benefit of OTP’s many feline enthusiasts):
Tonight when I knelt down next to our cat, Zooey,
And put my fingers into her clean cat’s mouth,
And rubbed her swollen belly that will never know kittens,
And watched her wriggle onto her side, pawing the air,
And listened to her solemn little squeals of delight,
I was thinking about the poet, Christopher Smart,
Who wanted to kneel down and pray without ceasing
In every one of the splintered London streets,
And was locked away in the madhouse at St. Luke’s
With his sad religious mania, and his wild gratitude,
And his grave prayers for the other lunatics,
And his great love for his speckled cat, Jeoffry.
All day today—August 13, 1983—I remembered how
Christopher Smart blessed this same day in August, 1759,
For its calm bravery and ordinary good conscience.
This was the day that he blessed the Postmaster General
“And all conveyancers of letters” for their warm humanity,
And the gardeners for their private benevolence
And intricate knowledge of the language of flowers,
And the milkmen for their universal human kindness.
This morning I understood that he loved to hear—
As I have heard—the soft clink of milk bottles
On the rickety stairs in the early morning,
And how terrible it must have seemed
When even this small pleasure was denied him.
But it wasn’t until tonight when I knelt down
And slipped my hand into Zooey’s waggling mouth
That I remembered how he’d called Jeoffry “the servant
Of the Living God duly and daily serving Him,”
And for the first time understood what it meant.
Because it wasn’t until I saw my own cat
Whine and roll over on her fluffy back
That I realized how gratefully he had watched
Jeoffry fetch and carry his wooden cork
Across the grass in the wet garden, patiently
Jumping over a high stick, calmly sharpening
His claws on the woodpile, rubbing his nose
Against the nose of another cat, stretching, or
Slowly stalking his traditional enemy, the mouse,
A rodent, “a creature of great personal valour,”
And then dallying so much that his enemy escaped.
And only then did I understand
It is Jeoffry—and every creature like him—
Who can teach us how to praise—purring
In their own language,
Wreathing themselves in the living fire.
Happy 2022 to all!
On a (finally) wintry snowy day in MI…
I have but one resolution; that is to make no new year’s resolutions.
Welcome Terry from Pennsylvania. Leo well done; proof once again the new and expressive power of poetry to open a window(s) on human experience. Donkeybydaylight, John Beard and I have discussed the delight of composer Benjamin Britten’s musical treatment of Jubilate Agno, with text from Smart’s poetry written from a hospital. Thanks for the gift of the Morrison Invisible Ink lecture/essay . A great way to kick start my book in the new year!