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Geoff’s Giftings for March, 2023

By March 1, 2023May 7th, 2023No Comments

Dear Readers and Writers,

This day is a gift.

“Nothing is so beautiful as spring–
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightning to hear him sing…”

from “Spring,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

Here it comes! Green tongues poke up out of the snow. Wind wags them
around and their soft songs stream down. The Solar Wheel has spun us back to this time of natural revival.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere this year, the Spring Equinox arrives on March 20 at 5:24 PM Eastern time. When we meet in advance of that threshold moment, I’ll begin by leading our group in a gentle sensitizing attunement to the Living Silence, to each of our most beloved places on Earth, and through them to our own impressions of what Ralph Waldo Emerson attuned to through the medium of his poem “The World Soul,” found below.

This is an active as well as a contemplative exercise and we will write about our experiences of those attunements as and after we do them.

I’ve actively addressed environmental issues as a community organizer, researcher and activist for over forty years. I’m convinced that our loving communion with the earth can inform and strengthen our grassroots environmental and political activism.

Our planetary predicament calls for all possible creative responses. It calls us to turn and tap into the catalyzing intelligence of Nature. We interbe with the Earth and each other. That being so, we can bless the Earth and each other.

Every little bit of love, attunement, creative expression and blessing can help as we continue the Great Turning. May our Spring Equinox group contribute to building a collective, creative Blessing Field.

Herewith are five spring poems. As you take them in, notice whatever word, phrase, line, image, idea, rhythm, rhyme, “music” or whole felt sense of any poem most moves you, whether that be simply inwardly, or as a possible prompt to write your own poem or song. Just enjoy these poems of renewal. We’ll return to them when we meet and move from what moves you in them—or from whatever you may want to expand upon from our prior attunement exercise— to a time of free writing.

Then we’ll gift each other, by reading aloud the poems we’ve written.

Ralph Waldo Emerson lived from 1803 to 1882. His poem “The World Soul” was first published in 1847, twenty years after the first railroad in North America — the Baltimore & Ohio — was chartered by Baltimore merchants in 1827, and only three years after the first telegraph message, “What hath God wrought?” was sent in May 24, 1844.

This prophetic early poem by Emerson reveals some of the historical roots of our present cultural and climate self-mutilations, and chants essential present and future truths to me.

“He forbids to despair.” He begins with reverent thanks.


The World Soul

Thanks to the morning light,
Thanks to the seething sea,
To the uplands of New Hampshire,
To the green-haired forest free;
Thanks to each man of courage,
To the maids of holy mind,
To the boy with his games undaunted,
Who never looks behind.

Cities of proud hotels,
Houses of rich and great,
Vice nestles in your chambers,
Beneath your roofs of slate.
It cannot conquer folly,
Time-and-space-conquering steam,—
And the light-outspeeding telegraph
Bears nothing on its beam.

The politics are base,
The letters do not cheer,
And ’tis far in the deeps of history—
The voice that speaketh clear.
Trade and the streets ensnare us,
Our bodies are weak and worn,
We plot and corrupt each other,
And we despoil the unborn.

Yet there in the parlor sits
Some figure of noble guise,
Our angel in a stranger’s form,
Or woman’s pleading eyes;
Or only a flashing sunbeam
In at the window pane;
Or music pours on mortals
Its beautiful disdain.

The inevitable morning
Finds them who in cellars be,
And be sure the all-loving Nature
Will smile in a factory.
Yon ridge of purple landscape,
Yon sky between the walls,
Hold all the hidden wonders
In scanty intervals.

Alas, the sprite that haunts us
Deceives our rash desire,
It whispers of the glorious gods,
And leaves us in the mire:
We cannot learn the cipher
That’s writ upon our cell,
Stars help us by a mystery
Which we could never spell.

If but one hero knew it,
The world would blush in flame,
The sage, till he hit the secret,
Would hang his head for shame.
But our brothers have not read it,
Not one has found the key,
And henceforth we are comforted,
We are but such as they.

Still, still the secret presses,
The nearing clouds draw down,
The crimson morning flames into
The fopperies of the town.
Within, without, the idle earth
Stars weave eternal rings,
The sun himself shines heartily,
And shares the joy he brings.

And what if trade sow cities
Like shells along the shore,
And thatch with towns the prairie broad
With railways ironed o’er;—
They are but sailing foambells
Along Thought’s causing stream,
And take their shape and Sun-color
From him that sends the dream.

For destiny does not like
To yield to men the helm,
And shoots his thought by hidden nerves
Throughout the solid realm.
The patient Dæmon sits
With roses and a shroud,
He has his way, and deals his gifts—
But ours is not allowed.

He is no churl or trifler,
And his viceroy is none,
Of genius sire and son;
And his will is not thwarted,—
The seeds of land and sea
Are the atoms of his body bright,
And his behest obey.

He serveth the servant,
The brave he loves amain,
He kills the cripple and the sick,
And straight begins again;
For gods delight in gods,
And thrust the weak aside;
To him who scorns their charities,
Their arms fly open wide.

When the old world is sterile,
And the ages are effete,
He will from wrecks and sediment
The fairer world complete.
He forbids to despair,
His cheeks mantle with mirth,
And the unimagined good of men
Is yearning at the birth.

Spring still makes spring in the mind,
When sixty years are told;
Love wakes anew this throbbing heart,
And we are never old.
Over the winter glaciers,
I see the summer glow,
And through the wild-piled snowdrift
The warm rose buds below.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Covenant of Spring

“Who can depart that never came,
return that never left?”
-Virginia Scott Miner (1901-1982)
poet, teacher and friend

As first lilac leaves arrive,
we turn toward warmth
with the rolling home
that gathers
no loss.

—Geoff Oelsner

Spring Fool Song

Now our eyes turn to incense.
Children are in our bones.
The dog of the world has no home
but vacant skulls and vacant skulls
but where we step is a threshold.
Music clothes us.
Open your windows, fathers.
None but the sky can hold us.

Today welcome the Fool
who stands in her oval of gold.
Scoop up some of her joy
for yourself and dance.
Skip on the native rim of this world
and don’t mind the sting of the dollars
men fling at each other.
Hear the Fool’s flute play beyond that
and dance.


In Late Sun, the River and Hills are Beautiful


chí rì jiāng shān lì Late sun river hill beautiful
chūn fēng huā cǎo xiāng Spring wind flower grass fragrant
ní róng fēi yàn zǐ Mud thaw fly swallow
shā nuǎn shuì yuān yāng Sand warm sleep mandarin duck

In late sun, the river and hills are beautiful,
The spring breeze bears the fragrance of flowers and grass.
The mud has thawed, and swallows fly around,
On the warm sand, mandarin ducks are sleeping.

—Tu Fu (Tang Dynasty, China, 712-770 AD)

A Gift of Spring

It snowed today.
Not the snow of white
But a drift of petals pink
Like a flight of pillow down.
Each soft palm,
Landing on my soul.

—Douglas Lewis

“Spring still makes spring in the mind…”


Please Touch the Earth with Love,

Geoff Oelsner