Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Galway Kinnell has died

As with much poetry news, I got the information first from Facebook. I heard Kinnell read more than once when he came to the San Francisco Bay Area. He was a compelling reader of his mesmerizing poems. It is very sad to know that he has gone. When I told S, he mentioned a poem he had liked when teaching, and soon thereafter, one of my other Facebook friends mentioned the same poem, "St. Francis and the Sow." So that has to be the poem for tonight. Sleep well, Galway, we will remember you.

Here is a photo of Beniamino Bufano's statue of Saint Francis of Assisi that stands 
at the entrance to the Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley of California. 
The photo is by Bryan Nabong (Creative Commons License) made available on Flickr.

Also from Flickt, and by Bryan Nabong, this detail of the mosaic on St. Francas' robe. 
Photo is available for use via Creative Commons licensing. Thank you, Bryan!

Saint Francis and the Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

Galway Kinnell, “Saint Francis and the Sow” from Three Books, Mariner Books, 2002.

And here is my own photo of the sculptor Bufano's work, This bird stands in San Francisco and
posing for me is my beloved younger son, who now has four children of his own.

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