Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gift by Czeslaw Milosz

One of my ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

By Czeslaw Milosz

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

From:  "Teaching With Fire:  Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach", page 159


From Preface to "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem. . ."


Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Oh, yes. Walt Whitman had it all right, didn't he? If we don't follow his admonishments, we are doomed to continue thinking as children, without reflection or adult sensibility. I want to be the great poem. My own great poem.

Just goes to show that words can be used wonderfully, intelligently, and inspirationally. Not just to nurture hysteria and foster ignorance. I hate politics.

Wine and Words said...

Ah, that last line of Whitman. So amazing. Whitman is in the air today...touching several blogs I have read.

Yesterday I sat alone by a river. Two beautiful red dragonflies danced over the water. I think they were dating. I think they had an argument, but still they loved :)


erin said...

i've not read the entirety of Leaves of Grass. it should be mandatory for living. my god.

the first, gift, is so simple i almost miss it. i am in love with moments such as these wishing they were much longer than a moment.


Kelly said...

A beautiful shot of the hummingbird, Marion!

Snowbrush said...

I almost never read prefaces, but I should have read this one.

Phoenix said...

" all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul..."

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone back to this line, how many times the things I have learned at school or at church have insulted my soul and I've felt so alone, and then I remembered - Walt Whitman felt the exact same way. I am not alone. And I'm not the only one who still holds a special place in her heart for the Transcendentalists, apparently. ;)

I've missed you, and your poetry. I'm so glad I'm back.

Ed Pilolla said...

this is a tremendous quote by whitman. thanks for this. it's like an energy drink, only way way better:)

Terresa said...

Both are grand reminders of life and love. I'm recommitting myself to both right now.

Margaret Pangert said...

Greatest gifts of inspiration! We all thrive on it...
Are you still in Canada? Strange how H. Irene made it all the way up there--you can't escape!
Hope all is well--love, me