My head still being elsewhere tonight, I offer you a borrowed painting from a wonderful artist named Alastair Proud and a borrowed poem by Mary Oliver.

Lonely, White Fields

“Every night
the owl
with his wild monkey-face
calls through the black branches,
and the mice freeze
and the rabbits shiver
in the snowy fields-
and then there is the long, deep trough of silence
when he stops singing, and steps
into the air.
I don’t know
what death’s ultimate
purpose is, but I think
this: whoever dreams of holding his
life in his fist
year after year into the hundreds of years
has never considered the owl-
how he comes, exhausted,
through the snow,
through the icy trees,
past snags and vines, wheeling
out of barns and church steeples,
turning this way and that way
through the mesh of every obstacle-
undeterred by anything-
filling himself time and time again
with a red and digestible joy
sickled up from the lonely, white fields-
and how at daybreak,
as though everything had been done
that must be done, the fields
swell with a rosy light,
the owl fades
back into the branches,
the snow goes on falling
flake after perfect flake.”

I’ve just recently started reading Mary Oliver’s poetry after seeing it referred to on various nature blogs. I like the way she so often relates to something in nature and surprises me with the images she creates from words. I like the feel of this poem, but I’m not sure that I understand what she is telling me here.

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In other news, we had our first snow of the season today – a few snowflakes for about 30 seconds! I think they said on the news that this is the latest date on record for snow in NJ.

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If you haven’t already, please consider submitting a photo for this Saturday’s Good Planets to me at lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net. Thanks!

17 thoughts on “Borrowed”

  1. That’s a wonderful painting, and an excellent poem! You’re right, she does paint images in my mind, too.
    Do we really ever know what a poet is truly telling us – what is in deep within them?

  2. I don’t care what she is telling me. It’s great. Beautiful.

    Everyone is getting snow except me… It’s cold but we expect 69 by Sunday. Please send snow photos!

  3. “filling himself time and time again
    with a red and digestible joy”

    I don’t know why, but I dig that. What a nice clean way to say “meat-eater”.

    We supposedly got snow yesterday morning, but it was gone by the time I got up.

  4. This was just plain “nice” after coming home from the movies- saw “Blood Diamond”- painful from start to finish. So this post is helping me calm down before sleep- thanks!

    (I love owls. Barred owls are my favorites.)

  5. Susan: I dig that line too!

    I resisted the philosophical mood I’m in tonight and the question of what *our* red and digestible joy might be in this life. See why oftentimes it’s better that I don’t say much and let some poet talk for me? 🙂

    Vicki: There must be lots of Barred Owls for you to find in swampy Florida. I like them too – they’re very hootable! I’ve never had a nice look at one *in the wild* – only just a shadow floating away between the trees – but the rehab owl I took pics of at Tuckerton Seaport this summer was gorgeous and had such personality.

    I love poems, like this one, about Barn Owls – Ted Kooser has a great one.

    Mary: I would love to send you snowy pics, but I have none. I was eyeing up the ice on the pond this morning, though.

    Naturewoman: I don’t know – mostly I feel like I’m missing some key intelligence for understanding my favorite poets!

  6. What a great poem. I definitely need to find out more about Mary Oliver.
    I’m new to blogs, and I especially enjoy yours.

    I would like to ask you some questions about Sandy Hook, do you think you could contact me?

  7. That’s a beautiful painting and the poem is nice too, but I don’t know if I’m getting what the poet is saying either. I liked it though!

  8. As a lit major, I have read all genres, but I still come back to poetry as my favorite. And Mary Oliver is always a treat. In fact, I used one of her poems on my final exam for Intro to Lit. She is a very approachable poet, using nature to comment oh so gently on the human condition.
    This poem was not one I had read before, so thanks for the gift.

  9. Thank you for introducing me to a new poet. I read a few more of her poems online and am off the library at noon to pick up some of her books.

  10. We occasionally encounter owls while hiking. I’ve never seen a barn owl, but they are not really known to be in this area. I’ve seen Barred Owls several times – usually in winter – watching us from about 30 feet up in Hemlock or spruce trees. They seem to like hanging out high above trails – I guess it gives them a nice open view to watch for prey. We’ve also seen Snowies, Long-eared, and Screech owls here at the farm occasionally in the past.
    Btw, I can identify with your feelings about winter. I’m actually feeling very anxious for spring to arrive.

  11. Sarala: Please do!

    Jackie: Thanks for popping in – glad you like it.

    Lynne: You too? Funny that we can like it without understanding it!

    kgmom: Want to put those literary analysis skills to use to help the rest of us? lol!

    Ruth: You’re welcome. 😉 I bought a few of her *selected poems* books back before Christmas – just now getting to have a look at them.

    Bev: You make it sound so easy to see owls! Lucky you. I can hear them pretty regularly, but seeing them is another matter.

  12. I love that line, “red and digestible joy”. Great poem. I love how beautifully strung-together words and a photo can calm my spirit.

    Thanks, Laura.

  13. beautiful! barn owls are becoming very rare in Michigan, I haven’t viewed one in many years.. and I love the poem.. it speaks to me of many things. The image/poem compliment each other well, really enjoyed this one Laura.

  14. Dave: Please send snow – soon!

    Beth: Hi and thanks.

    Monarch: Thanks – glad you liked it.

    cindy: Hi – thanks for coming by. I wonder if there’s anywhere anymore that barn owls are easy to see – they’ve probably gone the way of our farmland.

    I saw the *shadow* of one once, in a box set-up for them at a wildlife refuge here in NJ. Every so often I hear of one found roosting in an odd building, but I would love one day to see one hunting over a lonley field like in this painting.

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