Friday, December 06, 2019

Poetry Friday: Wild Gratitude, by Edward Hirsch

I am wildly grateful for Poetry Friday and for the marvelous people it has brought and continues to bring into my life.

Our fearless hostess, Tanita Davis (along with the Poetry Sisters), is focusing on gratitude. Tanita says:

Gratitude is the theme the Poetry Sisters chose this month for our original poems. It’s kind of a low-key challenge for those of us who are in the teeth of exams and end-of-year work emergencies, or who, like me, are preparing for the slog of holiday concerts and staying upright and healthy until the final notes are sung. At this point, we’re grateful for small things, like a full night’s sleep, an unexpected packet of tissues in a cardigan pocket, or the umbrella behind the driver’s seat, and not in the trunk.

One of my dearest friends is a singer, too (can't wait for her concert next week) so the "just staying upright and healthy" bit struck a chord, making me think of her. Then I thought of how grateful I am for her friendship. How grateful I am for so many people who keep me upright and sane.

Tanita's post, her original poem this week, and the Carl Denis poem she shared all fueled my own December gratitude, which I'm trying to focus on more deliberately this year. It can be a beautiful, hard time of year for me. (Every year is different. Why must every year be different? Because change is the only constant.) I love Advent, adore all the preparations for Christmas, but things are never quite as quiet and peaceful as I dream they will be. Just as I always have a skewed vision of summer and its feel but eventually realize that "our days unfold with a lovely balance of planning and coasting," I am open to the unexpectedness of Advent this year, to the deeper ponderings that accompany the whimsy of chocolate coins on St. Nicholas morn. As the short, dark days can fuel the anxiety I battle off and on (hello, light therapy lamps!), I am also grateful for the reminder that darkness will always be swept away by light with every new day.

Last summer, after reading my post about my off-kilter expectations for a perfect summer, my friend the singer said, "Do you think we're just longing for Heaven?"

Yes. And one of the best ways to ponder the thing we long for is to say, over and over again, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

Wild Gratitude
by Edward Hirsch

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,

(Read the poem in its gorgeous entirety here, at Edward Hirsch's website.)



Ruth said...

Wonderful! My daughter and I were just talking about that Christopher Smart poem Hirsch refers to. I sent her the link. Thank you!

tanita✿davis said...

Ohhh, Karen -- thank you SO MUCH for sharing that poem. I love Christopher Smart, my patron poet, and this poem just -- loves him back in such a compassionate way. Here's to all the Jeoffrys, those sturdy and shrewd servants of God.

Linda B said...

This is new to me, Karen, a beautiful praise poem for all creatures, to be mindful of those creatures surrounding us. Thank you!

Jone said...

A new poet for me. Thank you for the introduction.

Cheriee Weichel said...

Thank you for introducing me to this poet. The poem gave me shivers.

mbhmaine said...

What a beautiful, powerful poem and a lovely companion piece to Tanita's post. Thank you for introducing me to Edward Hirsch, to the idea of "wild gratitude" and to that amazing final line, "Wreathing themselves in the living fire."

Margaret Simon said...

I am making the month of December about gratitude in my classroom. We are writing to gratitude quotes and reading gratitude poems. Thanks for pointing to this poem and for reinforcing my intentions.

Kay said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful poem. May we all find and rejoice in wild gratitude.

Karen Eastlund said...

This poem enriches and stretches my spirit of gratitude, and I am grateful to you for posting it. I think that gratitude is so so powerful and meaningful, integral to our relationships and attitude toward the world. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and this poem, which even points to another poet.

Mary Lee said...

More purring in every language, indeed!!

Donna Smith said...

I don't know if the world is turning me around, but I'm enjoying myself immensely at this week's Poetry Friday posts! Thanks for this stunning share!

Christie Wyman said...

I shall pay attention to how other critters praise from here on out. Thank you for bringing this poem and poet to us this PF. Be well and warm.

Karen Edmisten said...

Wow, what joyful and wonderful comments -- each and every one of them makes me feel even more grateful. :)