Monday, January 26, 2015

Retrieving Our Beautiful Due

Tomorrow it will be 6 years since John Updike died. He is noted for remarking that he wanted "to give the mundane its beautiful due," and it cannot be denied that he best succeeded when he applied himself to describing the life and times of Mr. Everyman, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom. It is notable that when I came across the following poem written by another gifted writer, also a poet, her words conjured up for me, despite the degrees of separation in their socio-political views, an image of these two authors at rest, peaceful and hugely satisfied, melding well, at one with each other and as well with our Universe.


Come into Animal Presence

Come into animal presence.
No man is so guileless as
the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn't
quicken his trotting
across the track into the palm bush.
What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm forest.
Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence.

--Denise Levertov

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