Two Poems by Anne Atwood Dodge, published in “Poetry”, 1927
In An Orchard
Lie still, lie still and close your eyes
Though there is beauty all around –
So shall you sense more lovingly the sun,
And hear more exquisitely still the sound
Of wind among the branches, and the hum
Of drunken bees among the rustling flowers,
The delicate flutter of wings – a humming-bird
Above the larkspur towers;
And feel, pressed close to the earth,
The wind come up the hill,
The rough grass under your hand, and the sun on your face
Lie still, lie still.
Although the snow lay light
Above your quiet bed,
The sky was April bright.
Remembering you, I stood
Almost abashed to break
Your lovely solitude.
The wind had fallen still –
Was it the wind that stirred
The grasses on the hill?
— Anne Atwood Dodge
on the back of the wind
Songs of Joy by William Henry Davies
Sing as a happy bird will sing
Beneath a rainbow’s lovely arch
In the spring.
Think not of death in thy young days;
Why shouldst thou that grim tyrant fear?
And fear him not when thou art old,
And he is near.
Strive not for gold, for greedy fools
Measure themselves by poor men never;
Their standard still being richer men,
Makes them poor ever.
Train up thy mind to feel content,
What matters then how low thy store?
What we enjoy, and not possess,
Makes rich or poor.
Filled with sweet thought, then happy I
Take not my state from other’s eyes;
What’s in my mind — not on my flesh
Or theirs — I prize.
Sing, happy soul, thy songs of joy;
Such as a Brook sings in the wood,
That all night has been strengthened by
Heaven’s purer flood.
For so the children come
and so they have been coming.
Always in the same way they come-
born of the seed of man and woman.
No angels herald their beginnings,
no prophets predict their future courses.
No magi see a star to show where to find the babe that will
Yet each night a child is born is a holy night.
Parents, sitting beside their children’s cribs,
feel glory in the sight of a new life beginning.
They ask, “Where and how will this new life end?
Or will it ever end?”
Each night a child is born is a holy night,
a time for singing,
a time for wondering,
a time for worshipping.
-Sophia Lyon Fahs
Spirit of the Harvest
BY GARY KOWALSKI
Each of us will be grateful this Thanksgiving in differing ways,
Gathered in our separate families,
Each with our own distinct recipes, customs and traditions;
For some will have pies of mince,
And others of pumpkin or apple;
And some will dine early
And some sit down late to the meal,
Passing on the wisdom of the elders
As to the question of whether the stuffing
Should have raisins or currants,
And whether to add sage to the gravy.
For such differences of opinion,
Make us truly appreciative,
Realizing that as there is no one right way
To celebrate the gifts of life,
So there is no wrong way
To share in love or friendship.
But amid our diversity,
Let us also be united
In our gratitude
For a world in which there are many faiths,
A nation in which there is freedom of worship,
A community in which people of many backgrounds
Can gather in mutual care and respect.
With autumn comes the migration of many of our winged friends including the wild geese. On a recent evening, I stood out on our deck and witnessed a flock overhead. I heard them first. I looked up to see a long V in the sky. I counted 56 as they streamed over, flying west probably toward Lake Champlain, safety for the night’s rest. I imagined that to their eyes it would be a beckoning ribbon of red reflecting the sunset colors. Native folks around the world, including the Abenakis of Vermont, have respected animals as our teachers. By observing them, we can understand ourselves and the world better, and get glimpses of how to live well together on this planet.
I have heard from some teacher years ago the lessons that we can learn from wild geese. Geese share the leadership. They fly in a V with one goose at the point. This individual bird is working very hard since it’s first and bearing the brunt of the air resistance. The geese who fly behind have an easier flight because of the lead goose. Because the point is such a challenging position, they switch off often. In the course of a day of flying various individuals will assume the lead position.
Geese cooperate. The downward sweep of a goose’s wing creates an updraft that buoys the bird behind it. By flying in a V, they cooperate and make the effort of flying easier and less taxing for the members of the flock. Ingenious!
Geese encourage each other. Flying over what amounts to be hundreds of miles is challenging. The geese behind honk in encouragement for the ones up front.
And perhaps most importantly, geese know where they’re going. They have an internal navigation system that involves reading the earth’s magnetism and reading the stars. Amazing.
From these regal birds, we can take lessons for our own lives. Shared leadership, cooperation, and mutual encouragement make group life easier, smoother, more enjoyable and more likely to reach the destination. That applies whether the group is a flock, a family, a staff of co-workers, fellow volunteers in a civic organization or the members of a church. Like the geese, we can strive to step up and take the lead when necessary and then step back and let others take the lead. We can aim to cooperate and think of others and how our personal actions affect them, either enhancing or detracting from their experience. We can intend to be considerate of others expressing words and gestures of encouragement and appreciation. We can get clear on our destination and for guidance look within to our internal navigation system and our connection with the earth, the cosmos and the Source.
As fall settles on the landscape now nearly stripped of leaves in my neighborhood, I’m grateful for the beauty of this place, for the birds, animals and creatures with whom we share this landscape and for their teaching us, just by being, how to be better people and live well on this earth.
See You at Church.
BY ROBERT FROST
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
For the beauty of the autumn,
dogwood leaves veined with purple,
smell of dusty decay not to be found another time,
let us be thankful.
For places of peace and strength,
sanctuaries of holiness,
communities of caring
times of thought, listening silences,
let us be thankful.
For what we have to be held and shared,
love mysteriously reaching another being.
let us be thankful.
-Rudolph W. Nesmer
Let us be quiet, without and within.
Let the stillness be in us.
Let the silence hold us.
May we find the deep places of the soul and begin to let go of the distractions
that plague us.
May we let go of the irritation, calm the confusion which inhibits us, let go of fear.
The quiet is within us.
The stillness is in us.
The silence will hold us.
There are deep places in the soul.
Here may we find peace.
-Harold E. Babcock