"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

31 December 2010

Hopes for the New Year

Seeking something thoughtful for the beginning of a new year, I turned to Mary Oliver and found these excerpts to be excellent reminders of who and what I wish to become. (Apologies for the lack of indentions from the original; I can't seem to get them to work in this venue.)

from "Six Recognitions of the Lord"
(section 5)

Oh, feed me this day, Holy Spirit, with
the fragrance of the fields and the
freshness of the oceans which you have
made, and help me to hear and to hold
in all dearness those exacting and wonderful
words of our Lord Christ Jesus, saying:
Follow me.

from "On Thy Wondrous Works I will Meditate"
(section 6)

I would be good -- oh, I would be upright and good.
To what purpose? To be shining not
sinful, not wringing out of the hours
petulance, heaviness, ashes. To what purpose?
Hope of heaven? Not that. But to enter
the other kingdom: grace, and imagination,

and the multiple sympathies: to be as a leaf, a rose
a dolphin, a wave rising
slowly then briskly out of the darkness to touch
the limpid air, to be God's mind's
servant, loving with the body's sweet mouth -- its kisses, its
words --

from "Messenger"

My work is loving the world.
[. . .]

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
[. . .]
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.


dylan said...

dear Beth Impson --

Thank you for this New Year's gift! I do prize Mary Oliver, and Thirst is one of my favorite books of hers. She is a true contemplative! Thank you again, and Happy New Year.

Beth Impson said...

You are so welcome, Dylan! I'm always surprised at how that which I pretty much do for myself is still used by the Lord for others. It's a delight to meet another Oliver fan; her poetry has meant so much to me since a friend introduced me to it a few years ago.

I tried to make a comment on your lovely advent poem, but my computer was not working properly at the time; I thought it was beautiful, and encouraging, and I enjoyed watching it grow.

dylan said...

Thank you, Beth. That poem was something of a struggle, and there's still something about it that doesn't quite satisfy: the bleakness seems to predominate when I do want at least a glimmer of hope!

About Mary Oliver: Thirst and Evidence are the two books of hers that I'd recommend almost without reservation. My late cousin, my mom's cousin, a professor of mathematics -- she had tried for years to interest me in Oliver, and I resisted, but then I heard some lines of hers quoted in a homily and I thought: I'd better take a second look! I'm not sorry I did!

Beth Impson said...

I agree with Meredith that the poem is sounding Hopkinesque -- and I do love Hopkins! That glimmer of hope is a feature of even his darkest poems, and I'm glad you strive for it. You mentioned Millie's work in your response to me over at your place (the comment I thought didn't post) -- indeed she is gifted, and I believe she is committed to that gift. Her thesis was on Hopkins and beauty . . .

_Why I Wake Early_ is one of my favorites of Oliver's, perhaps because it was the first one I read; _Blue Iris_ is also excellent, though I put _Thirst_ ahead of it. _Evidence_ is now on my amazon list!

barn swallow said...

These thoughts are wonderful! Thank you for sharing them at the start of this new year.

Beth Impson said...

Glad you enjoyed these, dear heart -- thanks for visiting!

Lutestring said...

Oh so so beautiful and wise and elegant and compelling ...

Beth Impson said...

Isn't she though? Happy, happy New Year, my dear Monika!

Lutestring said...

you too! <3