A Few Words for a River
Let's say a few words for a river, our river over here, near the Thoreau Your Don't Know's basecamp, the Hudson. But let's not use the name "Hudson," and let's not just say any words. Let's repeat the words of Seamus Heaney, who the T.Y.D.K. staff happened to see last night, at the first annual (most likely) Princeton Poetry Festival. Let's repeat the words Heaney used when he read a poem called "Saint Kevin and the Blackbird," which we have in a collection called "Open Ground." One thing that the poem is about is Saint Kevin, who, while in his cell in the Wicklow Mountains, had extended his arm out the window, when a blackbird landed in his hand. Saint Kevin, not wanting to injure the bird, or the nest, or both or anything, held his arm in place. Said the poet: "Kevin feels the warm eggs, the small breast, the tucked/ Neat head and claws and, finding himself linked/ Into the network of eternal life,/ is moved to pity: now he must hold his hand/ Like a branch out in the sun and rain for weeks/Until the young are hatched and fledged and flown."
We love this poem, always have, love it more now, as we likely will when we next spend time with it. One of the many things we like about it is that it puts a positive spin on not doing, on standing ground, on holding still: it takes a lot of work to hold still, to hold back in life: "A prayer his body makes entirely/ For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird/ And on the riverbank forgotten the river's name." But what have we done? Just in saying that much we said too much.