The Peace of Wild Things

Trumpeter Swans in Winter

There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

In recent years there has been a population explosion of Trumpeter Swans in the lakes around central Minnesota.  Once a rare bird, Trumpeter Swans are now commonplace in wetlands with just a touch of wildness.   On the small shallow lake north of where I live there is a nesting pair every year, raising 2 to 4 signets.   But come fall, the lake becomes a central point of congregation before freeze up, with as many as 75 to 100 swans preparing to move south.  This year, temperatures have been warm enough that most of the Mississippi river near Elk River has yet to freeze and the swans are using that open water to stick around longer than I can ever remember.   The huge birds are like small boats floating in the fast current and remarkable sight in the midst of winter.   The reverse happens in March, as small patches of open water emerge, the swans and ducks congregate, eager for warmer temperatures to allow them some privacy. 

Do you have a wild species in your area that you have noticed that has gone from rare to commonplace?

A Warning To My Readers

by Wendell Berry

Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

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