Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
– Mary Oliver
A scene from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.
Avoid the reeking herd,
Shun the polluted flock,
Live like that stoic bird,
The eagle of the rock.
The huddled warmth of crowds
Begets and fosters hate;
He keeps above the clouds
His cliff inviolate.
When flocks are folded warm,
And herds to shelter run,
He sails above the storm,
He stares into the sun.
If in the eagle’s track
Your sinews cannot leap,
Avoid the lathered pack,
Turn from the steaming sheep.
If you would keep your soul
From spotted sight or sound,
Live like the velvet mole:
Go burrow underground.
And there hold intercourse
With roots of trees and stones,
With rivers at their source,
And disembodied bones.
– Elinor Wylie
‘On Feathered Wings: Birds in Flight’,
Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.
the cat, stepping out in his seven-league boots, with a 4-inch-long bright green grasshopper in his jaws. […] It immediately began to trill, a noise that sounded as if in the body of this insect the grass had gone to emerald, sparkling like newly pressed sap. Translated through that insect intelligence, it had become music. If I had been asked to make music out of grass, I would have transcribed the movement of grass stalks, the way they sweep and weave in shadow and light over distance. I would have talked about mathematics, not about colour and sap. But then, I’m not an insect.
I stepped out into the knee-high clover and laughed and called Diane over, for the grass all around me was covered with those insects. There were hundreds of them chirping their bird-like bell tones in that small field I had let grow wild, and nowhere else.
After a couple minutes, both of the cats were prowling through the music like bad liner notes. […] All the time, the little brass songs of the insects rose out of the grass like Adam’s name for the grass itself.
– Winging Home, page 199-200,