Pan Narrans

Vitruvian Man, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Image via Wikipedia

Jim Tait contributed this poem to Prairie Pagan.

Pan Narrans

‘Tis clever, using what we have at hand
to get ourselves what we and ours desire.
‘Tis wisdom, taking time to understand
our lusts and dreams and what these both require.

Our spirits tell us we are life inspired-
set up above the crawling beasts, we claim.
No heights for us to climb or to aspire.
“Wise human” is already in our name.

Our factions show us to be apes untamed.
Our stories tell us of our human race.
We run together, scattered, to our aim,
and live our stories out in time and space.

We clever apes may say that we are wise,
then use this tale to help achieve our lies.

— Jim Tait (2011)


Eat thy neighbour – some thoughts on Nature-based religion

Lion 'hugging' zebraI would say my religion is nature-based.  Nature – by this I mean the physical world, from the subatomic to the cosmic.  When some people talk about nature-based religion they mean things humans didn’t make.  So forests are ‘nature’ and cities are not.  But when I say my religion is nature-based, I mean that it is based in the physical world.

So where do things like ‘gods’ and ‘supernatural beings’ come in.  You can’t have a religion without those things!  (Well, actually, you can.)  I would describe myself as a polytheist / pantheist / panentheist / animist / monist.  And I’m also an atheist and believe the gods are only metaphors constructed by humans.

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A blessing in disguise – John Ashbery

Yes, they are alive and can have those colors,
But I, in my soul, am alive too.
I feel I must sing and dance, to tell
Of this in a way, that knowing you may be drawn to me.

And I sing amid despair and isolation
Of the chance to know you, to sing of me
Which are you. You see,
You hold me up to the light in a way

I should never have expected, or suspected, perhaps
Because you always tell me I am you,
And right. The great spruces loom.
I am yours to die with, to desire.

I cannot ever think of me, I desire you
For a room in which the chairs ever
Have their backs turned to the light
Inflicted on the stone and paths, the real trees

That seem to shine at me through a lattice toward you.
If the wild light of this January day is true
I pledge me to be truthful unto you
Whom I cannot ever stop remembering.

Remembering to forgive. Remember to pass beyond you into the day
On the wings of the secret you will never know.
Taking me from myself, in the path
Which the pastel girth of the day has assigned to me.

I prefer “you” in the plural, I want “you”
You must come to me, all golden and pale
Like the dew and the air.
And then I start getting this feeling of exaltation.

John Ashbery

The Urban Forest

Regina streetscape

Image via Wikipedia

I love the trees here.  They’re so friendly.  I’ve been in forests up north where the trees are foreboding.  Watching wearily like wolves.  Reminding you that you are an intruder in this place.  A noisy nuisance at best.

But here, in the city, the trees are friendly.  I think it’s because we have domesticated them.  Wild trees don’t grow here.  So we grow them from seeds, plant them by hand, support them with steaks to protect them from the prairie wind.  We water them, band them, spray them, prune them.  They are dependent on us.  They greet us with lolling leaves and happily wag their branches as we pass.

And we are happy to have them, too.  We say we need them for shade, for windbreak, to beautify the urban landscape.  But really, I think we need them for company.  They make us feel less lonely.  They are an oasis, protecting us from the vast emptiness that surrounds us.

Silence sounds not


Image via Wikipedia

Silence sounds not
Silence speaks not
Yet silence speaks a thousand words.

Souls speak silence
Hearts speak silence
But silent sounds are oft not heard.

Your heart knows the answers.
Listen to the silence.
Silence sings the song unheard.

– Kestrel (1995)

How do you grow a prairie town? – Robert Kroetsch

attack of the ground squirels

Image by chrisad1973 via Flickr

How do you grow a prairie town?

The gopher was the model.
Stand up straight:
telephone poles
grain elevators
church steeples.
Vanish suddenly: the
gopher was the model.

Robert Kroetsch, Seed Catalogue (1977)

What do you dream about?

Green leaf-blue butterfly

Image via Wikipedia

I am the Blue Butterfly.
Dream about me.

Let me into your mind.
Don’t be afraid.

We are all only human.
Who are you?

What do you dream about?
What would you change if you could turn back time?

My eyes are my wings
Drowning in wings
as blue as the sea
as brown as the earth
as green as the land

I am the Blue Butterfly,
dream about me.

– Kestrel (1995)

The Windhover – Gerard Manley Hopkins


Image via Wikipedia

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1877)

The gopher responds to the groundhog

Exhibiting territorial behavior

Image via Wikipedia

You say it’s going to be an early spring?
I know it’s your job, you’re just doing your thing,
But it’s not right being outside today,
It’s far too cold, I have to say.
There’s no way spring’s coming early this year,
You’re just going to have wait, I fear.
I know it’s hard admitting you’re wrong
But your previous predictions haven’t been too strong.
I’m staying inside below the snow
Wake me up in another six weeks or so.

– Erin {Kestrel}


Snow and Fire: Mid-Winter photos

This gallery contains 4 photos.