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Saint Francis and the Sow

Hi and Welcome, I suggest you begin by listening to the poem first, then read the article and enjoy the poem again at the end. Stay Safe and well, Bob

St Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell (1980) is one of my favourite poems. I think it is where my theology has reached through its many journeys. I present it here as it seems to contain an important message for us, at the start of this New Year. It reminds us that we can start again despite the pandemic, its many losses, its anxieties and fears.

The bud which stands alone is so vulnerable like ourselves before the unknown.
But the bud is also full of potential and has everything within itself to blossom.
Kinnel reminds us

for everything flowers, from within, of self blessing

The energy and power lies in the attitude of blessings – to bestow love and goodness upon ourselves.

That we need to re-teach ourselves and if we have a message for others, an energy that flows from us to others, it is

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

There will be many ways to do this, through our lifestyle, our silence, our work, our conversation, our leisure.

retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;

Kinnell points to the example St Francis, who blesses the sow and we observe what happens – the sow becomes more of itself and her energy flows into the mouths of her infants and all are deliciously fed.

The poem doesn’t suggest a quick fix to all our problems and hardships. After all the pig is not the most beautiful of creatures. But it is probably the most earthed of all the creatures on a farm, living to relish, it seems, the muddy earth. There is a suggestion that part of teaching a thing its loveliness is inviting it to be earthed in the hard, tough world, where animals and plants and people can and do blossom into:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

the
long perfect loveliness of being human

of being me

St Francis and the Sow read by Bob Commin

Saint Francis and the Sow
BY GALWAY KINNELL
The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

One comment on “Saint Francis and the Sow

  1. susanmargaretsarah says:

    Hi Bob I was doing a course with Dorian some time back and I chose Galway Kinnell as one of my poets and had to learn this poem off by heart – I loved it so thank you and for the comments on it x sue g

    Sue Gow 0834675995 0216853684 504 New Rosedale SA Legion Lower Nursery Road Rosbank 7700

    Like

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