Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Call of the Wild

The following poem I am having my 7th grade class recite as the opening for our Orienteering Games tomorrow. This poem by Robert Service captures the adventurous spirit of being Human, which, too often, is squelched by our civilized, educated ways. Enjoy, and may you find the Great White Silence.

The Call of the Wild
Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there's nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the binding sunsets blazon,
Black Canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it,
Search the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God's sake go and do it;
Hear the Challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.

Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sage-brush desolation,
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of creation,
And learned to know the desert's little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o'er the ranges,
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through an through?
Have you chummed up with the mesa? Do you know its moods and changes?
Then listen to the Wild - it's calling you.

Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed twig aquiver?
(Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies.)
Have you broken trail on snowshoes? mushed your huskies up the river,
Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize?
Have you marked the map's void spaces, mingled with the mongrel races,
Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew?
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it off with curses?
Then hearken to the Wild - it's wanting you.

Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down, yet grasped at glory,
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
"Done things" just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendors, heard the text that nature renders?
(You'll never hear it in the family pew.)
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things -
Then listen to the Wild - it's calling you.

They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,
They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you're a credit to their teaching -
But can't you hear the Wild? - it's calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling . . . Let us go.

Robert Service

Saturday, April 3, 2010

You're Song

You're song,
a wished for song.

Go through the ear to the center
where sky is, where wind,
where silent knowing.

Put seeds and cover them.
Blades will sprout
where you do your work.

The Essential Rumi, by Coleman Barks

Rumi reminds us to go to the silent place. This can literally be to the places in the world--the temples, the wilderness, a secret place in the garden--where silence prevails; but more importantly, and much more convenient, that silent place within. It is in this silence where we can hear our own uniqueness as a song sung by the Beloved into the Great Musical of Becoming of which everyone is performing. If we don't go to that silent place then we are acting out of the cacophony of the shoulds and fears of the world and all our programing.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


O Divers, I can understand
Your fascination
For discovering the depths.

Indeed, the kelp fronds sway
Like a seductive lover,
Moving in time with the tide.

Otters and seals,
Sea lions and sharks,
Await to be found by you.

And so you go
Waddling down the beach
Like a blackened duck
With your protection on,
Your face obscured in a mask,
Your body burdened by the tanks of this world.

Oh yes, I understand this call
To plunge into the depths
Of this trench of giant squids
And drifting sunfish and jellies.

But I am lazy and too poor
To buy such equipment
And care too little to swim in the cold.

The trench I explore
Lies deep in my soul,
Beyond this shore of daily thoughts.

Cute little fishes with big eyes
And puckered mouths swim there,
And plenty of sea monsters
To spice up any tale.

In this trench, every grain
Of sand from the day
Is washed away and pulled down
Into this world,
Each becoming a notion
For a dream to build upon.

I would write some more about
All the swimming beasties
And coral reefs
And spindly creatures waiting on the floor
Of this slice of mystic sea.

But the sun is falling
And three vultures watch me from a tree—
An omen, no doubt, that I have not much time.

Instead, you will just
Have to be content
Watching my bubbles rise.

-Janaka Stagnaro