In the department of inspiring people, I want to note that one of my favorite poets, Galway Kinnell, passed away at the age of 87. I met him at an art retreat at a place called Menucha, east of Portland, Ore., in 1979. He was 52 at the time and seemed to be vibrating with vitality and creative energy. He did a reading for us, a small group of artists and writers. It was a reading I will never forget at which he read: The Bear, a brilliant poem about life life, art and suffering. Another of his poems that is one of my all-time favorites is St. Francis and the Sow. I have read it many times at lectures for my book, This is Who I Am. I is a powerful statement about finding beauty in every living being.
St. Francis and the Sow
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; as Saint Francis put his hand on the creased forehead of the sow, and told her in words and in touch blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow began remembering all down her thick length, from the earthen snout all the way through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail, from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine down through the great broken heart to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them: the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
From A New Selected Poems by Galway Kinnell, published by Houghton Mifflin; copyright © 2000 by Galway Kinnell