Tuesday, April 15, 2014

imagine setting it all down

Camas Lilies

by Lynn Ungar

Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the native ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers' hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: "Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I'm through blooming."

Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

I've not seen a field of camas lilies - have you? I'm also new to the work of Lynn Ungar.

There is the echo of Mary Oliver's well known lines from the end of "The Summer Day."

Compare Ungar's:

"And you - what of your rushed
 and useful life? Imagine setting it down..."

To Oliver's:

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

In both poems, the field, the attention to details, to nature.

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

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?

Yesterday I had a go at photographing my mother-in-law's teacups. Very thankful for new subject matter! Outside it's rather brown and dirty and snow mouldy. No sign of buds yet. No signs of spring, unless you count the geese flying over from time to time.

So I'll leave you with the remaining photos.....and wish for you a nice long cup of tea somewhere in your day. And the opportunity to set it all down. All of it.


  1. Love:) I will drink to that. I will share a few favourite lines from a recently poured over children's book by Jon J Muth (Zen Ties):

    "Tea was very good
    my cup holds emptiness now
    where shall I put it?"

    Have a lovely day, thank you for your posts, Shawna :)

    1. Oh, that's lovely! Will have to look for it. Thanks, Leigh!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...