Can Poetry Save the Earth?
I was rummaging through some notes and rediscovered this wonderfully written poem – probably one of my favorites. It is called ‘The Well Rising’ by William Stafford; featured by NPR in its coverage of John Felstiner’s book “Can Poetry Save the Earth?”
The well rising without sound,
the spring on a hillside,
the plowshare brimming through the deep ground
everywhere in the field —
The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring and hesitating
hunting for the final curve
coming closer and closer —
The swallow heart from wing beat to wing beat
counseling decision, decision:
thunderous examples. I place my feet
with care in such a world.
The scene in Felstiner’s mind reminds me of a hike I took when I was 13 or 14. I was living in Michigan then; it was late Spring, so the snow was finally gone. I entered a forest near my home that I hiked over and over since I was 10. This time, I decided to beyond my usual path, beyond the white pines, and into a stand of deciduous trees. I think they were birch. The trees there were much shorter, and the leaves were so thick that they blocked my view ahead. A thick roll of wildflowers was starting to bloom on the edges of the path and at times covered it completely. I considered stopping, but ahead, I heard birds – lots of birds – chirping madly. A lot more than I was accustomed, and it excited me. What was behind the curtain of birch leaves, I wondered. I quickened my pace, but I softened my moves so that I didn’t make sudden sounds. Then the line of birches broke. I saw a large meadow and cloud of birds swirling over, swarming around in the air, through the tall grasses, and into the limbs of the trees in their midst. I stood there, as still as I could, and gasped at a scene that I’ve only viewed on nature shows and documentaries. I watched for many minutes – maybe it was hours – until the flock moved away to a nearby cow pasture.
I’m now inspired to write:
John makes me think.
Not to hear the sound of a rising well,
but feel the vibe of life. Feel its Warmth. Feel its love. Let it wash over me. Feel its hope.
Can poetry save the Earth?
He makes me wonder.
Well… I’m no John Felstiner. Maybe I should read more poetry. Think about my childhood. The good parts. Writer’s journey continues…