'Don’t think just now of the trudging forward of thought,/But of the wing-drive of unquestioning affirmation...'
Sometimes I stumble across poems for here by serendipity. Today is such an example. I opened my Mary Oliver book to pick a poem for today and the first one I came to - 'Terns' - exactly fit with not only my seaside theme for this month, but also my random thoughts (and slight fascination) over the last few days about seagulls and seabirds - perfect!
There is something quite hypnotic about watching seagulls at the beach - their swooping movements, their shrieking calls, their calm hovering or floating. Mary Oliver pins it perfectly here, as always. Each and every nature sight is a means of epiphany for her, and here the seagulls are messengers, affirmations of just being, not endlessly questioning, worrying.
I have the perfect song to go with today's poem too if you feel musically inclined - a new song from David Gray, 'Gulls', which is sublime. You can listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF-xx8mMWIo
Don't think just now of the trudging forward of thought,
but of the wing-drive of unquestioning affirmation.
It's summer, you never saw such a blue sky,
and here they are, those white birds with quick wings,
sweeping over the waves,
chattering and plunging,
their thin beaks snapping, their hard eyes
happy as little nails.
The years to come -- this is a promise --
will grant you ample time
to try the difficult steps in the empire of thought
where you seek for the shining proofs you think you must have.
But nothing you ever understand will be sweeter, or more binding,
than this deepest affinity between your eyes and the world.
The flock thickens
over the roiling, salt brightness. Listen,
maybe such devotion, in which one holds the world
in the clasp of attention, isn't the perfect prayer,
but it must be close, for the sorrow, whose name is doubt,
is thus subdued, and not through the weaponry of reason,
but of pure submission. Tell me, what else
could beauty be for? And now the tide
is at its very crown,
the white birds sprinkle down,
gathering up the loose silver, rising
as if weightless. It isn't instruction, or a parable.
It isn't for any vanity or ambition
except for the one allowed, to stay alive.
It's only a nimble frolic
over the waves. And you find, for hours,
you cannot even remember the questions
that weigh so in your mind.