July 4, 2008

The perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything

I was perusing through the Best American Poetry 2006 this morning. Many poems go right over my head (my inadequacy) but this one I liked. Mary Oliver's poems (1, 2) are always so rich and suffused with nature's beauty but this one had a great impact due to the contrast with the human condition, 'dripping with despair.'

The Poet With His Face in His Hands

You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn't need any more of that sound.

So if you're going to do it and can't
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can't
hold it in, at least go by yourself across

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you

want and nothing will be disturbed; you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched

by the passing foil of the water, the thrush
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.

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