Poetry Friday: a little affirmation from Galway Kinnell

h1 May 22nd, 2009 by eisha

pig2.jpgIt’s hard for me to admit this out loud, but here it is: I’m terribly vain. Not in the usual sense of the word. I mean I am preoccupied with my appearance and with others’ perception of me, but I tend to see and expect the worst of myself. And I hate it. I hate that I even care what I look like, that I actually get depressed that I don’t look like Gwyneth Paltrow or Angelina Jolie or whatever impossible standard of physical attractiveness the media are currently obsessed with. Shouldn’t it be enough that I’m decently healthy, that I have a husband and family and friends that I love, a job that I enjoy, a nice place to live, and that people keep writing great books for me to read? Do I really have to be conventionally pretty, too, to call myself happy?

Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder that there really is more than one definition of beauty. So here’s “Saint Francis and the Sow” by Galway Kinnell:

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;

(Click here to read the rest.)

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The lovely Susan Taylor Brown is on Poetry Friday Round-Up duty this week at her blog, Susan Writes. Enjoy some true beauty over there.

16 comments to “Poetry Friday: a little affirmation from Galway Kinnell”

  1. I love this poem, Eisha! If you’re ever looking for more pig poems – no matter what the occasion – go to this site – it’s unreal:

  2. Oh, my, I feel blessed by that poem, too. Luverly. And I know I can’t talk anyone out of what they see in the mirror, but honey, I saw that pic of you in GOGGLES no less last week and thought: dang it, she rocks even those. No fair.

  3. Thanks, Julie. I am happy just knowing there’s a website for pig poetry.

    Sara, you’re sweet. Thank you. But, PSA time:

    I DID NOT POST THIS TO FISH FOR COMPLIMENTS. I’m just talking about what goes on in my own head, and I suspect a lot of other women (and probably men) go through the same thing, and wouldn’t it be nice if maybe our culture weren’t so fixated on one standard of physical beauty? That’s all. Back to our regularly scheduled program.

  4. “though sometimes it is necessary / to reteach a thing its loveliness” —–> Oh my! This is so true and so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking poem, Eisha. :o)

  5. Thank you for this beautiful reminder of the gifts we take for granted every day, including Galway Kinnell’s wonderful poetry and the magic of cyberspace that lets us enjoy it together!

  6. “Self-blessing” is my new favorite word. And speaking of blessing, and of beautiful animals, and on the subject of poems, here is just about my favorite poem ever:

    Thanks, Eisha, for sharing this!

  7. the long perfect loveliness of sow

    *happy sigh*

    What a lovely poem choice. Self-blessing is a lovely idea. I hereby gift it to you, fellow nitpicker.

  8. That’s quite a poem, and your words ring true for most females in this day and age, I’d say. “sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness.” Poems like these certainly help to reaffirm! Thanks.

  9. Aw, look at the piggies!

    And, you know, that self-blessing thing is HARD. It is a good thing to pause and think about, though.

  10. Actually, jama, I think there might be more than a few guys in this day and age to whom this (collectively, the poem and Eisha’s comments) speaks, too!

    In the ’70s, a comment I heard/read numerous times (not directed at me, just to general audiences) was, “Let yourself be loved.” The idea was that most people have a real hard time simply letting themselves be appreciated, without wanting to pooh-pooh a compliment (or a love), or tacking on a jokey disclaimer, or whatever. Feeling a little awkward about the way we look is a special form of not letting ourselves be loved, maybe.

    (And Eisha, I’ll respect your non-fishing assertion, but d*mn it’s tempting to protest…!)

    Wonderful poem on this theme, too.

  11. Tarie and Jama, that’s my favorite line too. And quite a concept.

    You’re welcome, Ellen! Yeah, Kinnell is one I don’t pay as much attention to as I should, either.

    Elise, I think I posted that poem for Poetry Friday, like, maybe a year ago? It IS lovely.

    Thanks, Kelly. Right back at ya.

    adrienne, isn’t it?

    JES, you sweetheart. Thanks. (See? I’m trying. But that’s hard for me, too.)

  12. Love this.
    It will make a great gift for my former students who are heading off to the middle school next year!

  13. “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;”

    eisha, flower, you are lovely. And flowering again within, I trust!

  14. Love the idea of self-blessing–we could all use that, I think.

    I heard Galway Kinnell read last year, and though he didn’t read this poem, I can hear his voice reading it now.


  15. Thanks so much for the gorgeous poem, heartbreakingly beautiful picture. Heartbreaking because I wish people wouldn’t eat, torment and “factory farm” such soulful, happy (look at the sow’s grin!) animals, who seem simply to want to live in peace, enjoy food, mud, straw, sunshine and love their babies…Kinnel’s tribute to the pig’s beauty is a refreshing kindness!

  16. […] about animals? Of course we have them. First there is St. Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell over at 7-Imp and then over at readertotz you can […]

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