Monday, May 26, 2008

For All Animals

Could I name them all,
My kindred spirits?

Husky dogs,

these thrill my soul.

gladden my heart;

amuse, and
Yet why these?
Is not the grizzly as noble,

The hummingbird as graceful,

The kangaroo as queer?

Do we all have our favorites?
You prefer cheetahs, swans, and starfish--

What do they have
in common
one with another,
each with you?

Is the connection mere experience--
The swallows, when I was a boy, built nests
beneath the eaves
outside my bedroom window--
Or a matter of aesthetics?
But I know no giraffes in person...

Something speaks to us--
The wolf's wildness to me, perhaps
The starfish's symmetry to you--
Maybe a longing
For something missing
From our narrow lives,
Something important,
And terrific,
Which we cannot name,
Yet still recognize
at the surging of our blood
When we,
by chance,
Spy a butterfly
Flutter past.

(This prayer/poem is from We Thank You, God, for These: Blessings and Prayers for Family Pets by Anthony F. Chiffolo and Rayner W. Hesse, Jr. Available from Paulist Press.)

Consider the Lilies of the Field

This poem by Christina Rossetti came to my attention yesterday, and it is a wonderful illumination of the message from the Gospel of Matthew.


Flowers preach to us if we will hear:--
The rose saith in the dewy morn:
I am most fair;
Yet all my loveliness is born
Upon a thorn.
The poppy saith amid the corn:
Let but my scarlet head appear
And I am held in scorn;
Yet juice of subtle virtue lies
Within my cup of curious dyes.
The lilies say: Behold how we
Preach without words of purity.
The violets whisper from the shade
Which their own leaves have made:
Men scent our fragrance on the air,
Yet take no heed
Of humble lessons we would read.
But not alone the fairest flowers:
The merest grass
Along the roadside where we pass,
Lichen and moss and sturdy weed,
Tell of His love who sends the dew,
The rain and sunshine too,
To nourish one small seed.

From Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862)