Friday, June 03, 2011

Poetry Friday: Jessica Powers

Not long ago I came across a gorgeous photo on the Facebook page for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I don't have permission to post it here, so a verbal sketch will have to suffice: imagine an indigo bunting perched on a branch, his body startlingly blue against a misty purple blur of mountains, his mouth wide open in a song you can practically hear. He's alone against a backdrop of beauty and majesty, just singing and singing.

Though it's not about an indigo bunting, the picture made me think of one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, "Robin at Dusk" by Jessica Powers. Jessica Powers was a Carmelite nun who lived from 1905-1988. My copy of her Selected Poetry is thumbed over, paged through, spilled on...sort of the Velveteen Rabbit equivalent of a well-loved book.

I thought I'd send the poem winging and let it perch here. Imagine the little bird singing for all he's worth...

I can go starved the whole day long,
draining a stone, eating a husk,
and never hunger till a song
breaks from a robin's throat at dusk.

I am reminded only then
how far from day and human speech,
how far from the loud world of men
lies the bright dream I strain to reach.

You can go here to read the final two (and amazing) stanzas. You'll need to scroll to the middle of the page.

Happy Poetry Friday! The roundup is at The Writer's Armchair.

4 comments:

Toby Speed said...

This is a powerful and inspiring poem, Beth. Thanks for sharing it.

Erin said...

Beautiful poem. Thanks for posting it!

Beth said...

Toby, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Beth said...

Erin, I think you'd love a lot of Powers' poems...I have a few favorites that I've been thinking of memorizing this summer. Talking with you the other day about setting poems to music (to help me memorize) has me thinking in that direction...