—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Through an open window,
ion-scent of coming rain. Anything
can change in the dark.
I count my sheep of yesterday
and listen for the night-bird—
for the break-heart bleating of a ewe
who lost her lamb.
Owls make no sound in flight.
Without my counting, sun
finds its way up Stone Mountain.
Sheep will appear
in the hedge we can't fence off.
New lambs learn to love
the taste of fire-thorn and holly,
of heavenly bamboo.
I'll count my sheep like blessings.
Taylor Graham writes: Thanks to Katy Brown for keeping a poetic conversation going. Here's mine back to her. [See Weds. and Thurs. posts.]
Today is Earth Day, and here are some websites about it that you can check out:
I decided to celebrate Earth Day with critter poems. Think about the other critters—the ones who can't change the future of this planet...
THE SCHOLAR AND THE CAT
—Anonymous (c. 850)
Each of us pursues his trade,
I and Pangur my comrade,
His whole fancy on the hunt,
And mine for learning ardent.
More than fame I love to be
Among my books and study,
Pangur does not grudge me it,
Content with his own merit.
When—heavenly time!—we are
In our small room together
Each of us has his own sport
And asks no greater comfort.
While he sets his round sharp eye
On the walls of my study
I turn mine, though lost its edge
On the great wall of knowledge.
Now a mouse drops in his net
After some might onset
While into my bag I cram
Some difficult darksome problem.
When a mouse comes to the kill
Pangur exults, a marvel!
I have when some secret's won
My hour of exaltation.
Though we work for days and years
Neither the other hinders;
Each is competent and hence
Enjoys his skill in silence.
Master of the death of mice,
He keeps in daily practice,
I too, making dark things clear,
Am of my trade a master.
(trans. from the Irish Gaelic by Frank O'Connor)
—Takamura Kotaro (1883-1956)
When May entered the Black Current of Kinkazan Island
the sea suddenly blossomed,
shimmered like a dome of blue cellophane.
The waves, brilliantly flowing, were wincing under the midday
The sperm whale, after spouting once, dived deep again,
pillowed the giant weight of his head on the waters.
Enraptured by this warm current, salt-rich and silky,
he now lets his mind flow free, losing himself in boundless
but my very self, a sperm whale,
makes me the happiest creature in the world, the whale thinks.
Ah, it's no use fighting against the present.
The whale knows nothing beyond the moment.
He is always reveling on the crest of existence.
He doesn't bother about hypothesis, he doesn't get into
has intimations of unknown territory approaching,
is half frightened, half relieved.
Once more he reared up, and into the May sky
spouted his bellyful of the Current, almost a rainbow.
The lookout siren is hooting at Ayukawa Port on the Oshika
(trans. from the Japanese by James Kirkup and Akiko Takemoto)
—George Oppen (1908-1984)
In the small beauty of the forest
The wild deer bedding down—
That they are there!
Effortless, the soft lips
Nuzzle and the alien small teeth
Tear at the grass.
The roots of it
Dangle from their mouths
Scattering earth in the strange woods.
They who are there.
Nibbled thru the fields, the leaves that shade them
Hang in the distances
The small nouns
In this in which the wild deer
Startle, and stare out.
TO A SWALLOW
—Euenos (c. A.D. 50)
Relish honey. If you please
Regale yourself on Attic bees.
But spare, O airy chatterer,
Spare the chattering grasshopper!
Winging, spare his gilded wings,
Chatterer, his chatterings.
Summer's child, do not molest
Him the summer's humblest guest.
Snatch not for your hungry young
One who like yourself has sung—
For it is neither just nor fit
That poets should each other eat.
(trans. from the Greek by John Peale Bishop)