Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Darkling Thrush

I have been an avid poetry lover all of my life.  When I was a student at UNC Greensboro, our textbook, “Sound and Sense” had many poems both familiar and unfamiliar.  I still have the original book to this day and it is a constant companion.  It still bears my maiden name along with my dorm name and room number…”Nancy Mills, 303 Hinshaw”.  The pages are worn and dog eared with notations made in the margins.  I still remember the young professor I had that was actually the older brother of one of my high school friends.  He certainly facilitated unraveling the meaning of some of those poems.  Thank you, Bob Gingrich. 

Now, as winter is closing in, it's time for one of my favorite poems to be read once again, "The Darkling Thrush".  It is by Thomas Hardy and was written in December of 1900.  I like to pretend it was written on my birthday!  It is about hope vs. many are feeling these emotions at this time.  I dedicate this to my former student, Melissa Martin Glick.

 The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy
 December 1900

I leant upon a coppice gate
 When frost was specter-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
 The weakening eye of day. 
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
 Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
 Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
 The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
 The wind his death lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
 Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
 Seemed fervorless as I.

At once a voice arose among
 The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
 Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
 In blast beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
 Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
 Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
 Afar or nigh around.
That I could think there trembled through
 His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
 And I was unaware.

 And no matter how many times I read this poem, at the end, my eyes are always wet.  Thank you Mr. Hardy for being able to stir my soul over and over through the 40 or so years since first I read this poem.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Occupy Wall Street.  We are the 99%.  Class war.  No middle class.  Change.  These are the buzzwords circulating today.  I have been thinking about our society, our government, and our world for a long time.  I have wondered if the 1% know they are the 1%.  I wonder if they want change as badly as the rest of us…maybe many of them don’t mind paying higher taxes.  Maybe many of them are using their money to initiate innovations in our world and give large amounts to help others less fortunate.  I know we need change.  I support change and can see this “Occupy” movement is a step.  For the majority of us, “enough is enough”.  Yet, this method is bothering me a bit.  It is creating a separation of “us and them” which I remember from the 60’s and 70’s.  In some ways, it seems to create more separation than unity.

In my opinion, what we need is cooperation.  We need for each one of us to go within ourselves and connect to our deeper selves.  We need to take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions, and always question if what we are doing is for the good of all.  Allow other opinions and points of view.  If they don’t line up with yours, find a space for compromise.  In doing so, true change and peace would be possible.  Rather than being part of the 99% or the 1%, we should strive to be part of the 100%.  So here is my take on “occupy”:

Love 100%
Serve 100%
Cooperate 100%
Inspire 100%
Share 100%
Think positive 100%
Take responsibility 100%
Respect each other 100%
Allow 100%

Occupy your life 100%

I know…”you may say I’m a dreamer (but I’m not the only one)”.  Let it be.

Note:  Thanks to my cousin, Mamie Lewis Potter for sharing a quote from the Daily Om on facebook this morning.  It contained the seeds of inspiration for this blog.