Friday, December 7, 2012

Poetry Friday: Wilderness

Spotted a bald eagle on my way into town. It was being harrassed by crows. We don't see too many eagles here in my little slice of New Hampshire, although they are known to winter nearby -- along the Merrimack River.

Today, I spent a lot of time looking for an eagle poem that wasn't too, um, over-the-top (at least for my 20th century tastes). Ode to the Eagle. Craggy cliffs. Flowery magnificence. All so centuries ago!

I like what I found in this poem by Carl Sandburg. Eagle gets a mention, and so do a wholelotta other animals. It is so much fun to hear him read it. Please please please, click here to listen at the Poetry Foundation website. This is good for you! It certainly made my day . . .


There is a wolf in me . . . fangs pointed for tearing gashes . . . a red tongue for raw meat . . . and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.    

There is a fox in me . . . a silver-gray fox . . . I sniff and guess . . . I pick things out of the wind and air . . . I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers . . . I circle and loop and double-cross.

There is a hog in me . . . a snout and a belly . . . a machinery for eating and grunting . . . a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me . . . I know I came from salt-blue water-gates . . . I scurried with shoals of herring . . . I blew waterspouts with porpoises . . . before land was . . . before the water went down . . . before Noah . . . before the first chapter of Genesis.

There is a baboon in me . . . clambering-clawed . . . dog-faced . . . yawping a galoot’s hunger . . . hairy under the armpits . . . here are the hawk-eyed hankering men . . . here are the blonde and blue-eyed women . . . here they hide curled asleep waiting . . . ready to snarl and kill . . . ready to sing and give milk . . . waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird . . . and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want . . . and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.
Photo by me . . . JB.
Robyn Hood Black is graciously hosting over at her place.
Wilderness is from The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg (Harcourt Brace Iovanovich Inc., 1970)


I'm Jet . . . said...

I am a pal of the world . . .

Ruth said...

I really love this. Thanks for sharing it! It's true --- all those animals are in us, and we are the keepers of the zoo.

Robyn Hood Black said...

One of my favorite Carl Sandburg poems. Thanks for sharing - your pal, Robyn

Jeff Barger said...

This would make for a very interesting discussion about what animals lie within us. Students would enjoy that conversation. Thank you for sharing.

Joyce Ray said...

Oh, I love it! Thank you for the link. The reading is terrific. I love how Sandburg draws out "wilderness" each time. His cadence and emphasis really make this poem sing. I did not know this poem. You're right - it made my day, too.

Violet N. said...

Loved his reading of it. It WAS good for me! Thank you so much!