I recently posted a poem entitled The Peace of Wild Things. Reactions to it have been diverse and diametrically interposed. To save time, I've copied it here.
The Peace of Wild Things
Alone and left to contemplate,
had I a pair of wings,
I’d fly away and search the world
for the peace of wild things.
To live among the animals
and sense their lack of guile
existing in the here and now,
each moment spent worthwhile.
And free of life’s addictions,
material wealth and greed—
possessing very little,
in accordance with the need.
But should I ever so depart
it’s uncertain I’d return,
for I would have a lifetime’s worth
of so much to unlearn.
In plain language, the key points posited are:
- Peacefulness that is often elusive in everyday human life is commonplace in the natural world. I envy the lives of my two golden retrievers.
- Among the animals, the pervasive state of mind takes the form of what you see is what you get. There is never intent to mislead and subterfuge is held in abeyance. This is possible for humans, but there's no guarantee.
- Such thoughts as might be appropriate are summoned in here and now fashion. This state is enjoyed by younger children as evidenced by their persistently timeless, playful mirth, yet often and thoroughly dispersed upon reaching young adulthood.
- The lives of animals are characterized by immaterialism, yet this state of affairs is infrequently observed among ourselves. Mother Theresa comes to mind with her sparse wardrobe, simple sleeping pallet and daily living rooted in asceticism. Conversely, you may have noted the persistent emphasis to deprive you of whatever measure of wealth you might have attained.
- The last stanza contemplates a return to the carefree state of youth from which the animals never depart. As with Shakespeare "'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished." Yet the endless trials of life have become so ingrained that I fear I could never unlearn them all.
Next my poetic friend, C.L. Thornton juxtaposes a contrary view of the absence of peace among wild things. His comment (always appreciated since they tend to exert pressure to wake up and accommodate reality) was:
"I have to bust everyone's bubble about nature's benign animal kingdom – it's anything but that – in fact, it's cruel out there! I agree with your third stanza, however, and only because animals are somewhat free from those human needs you mention. Your poem is well written of course and I appreciate it for that. I write poems on many animals in which I describe them as they really are in the wild. Not a place I'd like to be. C.L."
Of course, survival of the fittest and kill or be killed are endemic in the animal kingdom. Yet we humans experience misery and violence as well.
Thus, the question arises as to whether such poetic notions as I expressed in The Peace of Wild Things are hopelessly idealistic and saccarine. When does the beam slip off the fulcrum?