Reflecting the structure of human-based organizations since the Romans invented command-and-control hierarchical management of groups.

   The little sparrows 
   hop ingenuously 
   about the pavement 
   quarreling 
   with sharp voices 
   over those things 
   that interest them. 
   But we who are wiser 
   shut ourselves in 
   on either hand 
   and no one knows 
   whether we think good 
   or evil. 

                 Meanwhile, 
   the old man who goes about 
   gathering dog-lime 
   walks in the gutter 
   without looking up 
   and his tread 
   is more majestic than 
   that of the Episcopal minister 
   approaching the pulpit 
   of a Sunday. 
                 These things 
   astonish me beyond words. 

- William Carlos Williams
Pastoral

reach
between
the rusty barbwire fence
for that first kiss
as mustard plants
bloom
their pollen
spreads to the noses of
unsuspecting cows
which graze
on daisy stems and
new grass
that pokes up
through the open sky
in a muddy pasture
they trod
to reach
and taste
the beginning of
spring eternal

My whole life I have been the most myself when I am alone. How to be alone? My friends taught me. I watched them live, and it made my own way possible. They fly through my life quickly and then I'm at an in between space, like the poised absence of the creak before the creak occurs. I cannot go back to feel the reassuring presence washing all around me although I wish for it with all my my heart I feel as though they barely inhabit my world. So I am by myself comfortable in red and grey sensible plaid jammies, standing at the slump bricked window by the kitchen sink . The warm and yellow cascade of the morning sun all warms me rumpled fresh awake from some pecan dream. Arms akimbo wondering did I indeed put sugar in the fresh ground coffee, deciding I will have to wait to taste when it's done. Whirring onions in a tiny food processor with a missing foot, riveted to the counter pressing down with all my might so it didn't shimmy away. Putting the ham and pea soup on the stove to simmer.

After the coffee was tasted and sugared I read aloud from William Carlos Williams, Pastoral. Jumping up I heard an odd sound, it was ground squirrels. They criss crossed the driveway with cheeks full of seeds, determined for a nest of babies hidden in the prickely pear..... sparrows by the door front scold and chased them on their way. I laughed among the miles of tumbling smells because it was like some silly Disney movie--Fantasia -- laughed because the sparrows had sprung loose of the William Carlos Williams poem. Williams was in the air and they had to quarrel free!

His poem paints a picture of little sparrows in a specified time through their world and under this pictures lies a deeper meaning, of an older human being ordinary in everyday life. It's an experience between poet and reader, just as a painting is far more than the oil on the canvas, but an experience for the person who will look for it.

"You must remember I had a strong inclination all my life to be a painter. Under different circumstances I would rather have been a painter than to bother with these god-damn words. I never actually thought of myself as a poet but I knew I had to be an artist in some way. Becoming the poet was the way life arranged it."

Williams

Pay attention, says the poet as I approach the line, more majestic than that of the Episcopal minister. The last line is sudden and clear, common language his ability to communicate in a fragmented society. Far removed from my wanting to understand the enigmatic parts of me, what my dreams mean, why am I afraid of wish bones, why do I think it's my age that makes people uncomfortable with what I write. In aloneness, I get the impression that I am moving along clear signs, my words are establishing something.....someday it will be oh so simply understood, then I will get 'it'.

Later on with the ham and pea soup for dinner there will be buttery cornbread and a fresh green salad with creamy picante dressing and sweaty glasses of sweet tea. My family will arrive home and scarf up great hunks of bread; plate after plate of soup until the heat of the day and the house shrinks down into small and glowing self contained worlds. They will bend toward the murmuring and I will retire to my room next to the small wooden bedside table and try to write my day down in my little spiral notebook and know. Listening and writing and listening again, that I am one of the privileged of the earth and how all these things astonish me beyond words.

Pas"tor*al (?), a. [L. pastoralis: cf. F. pastoral. See Pastor.]

1.

Of or pertaining to shepherds; hence, relating to rural life and scenes; as, a pastoral life.

2.

Relating to the care of souls, or to the pastor of a church; as, pastoral duties; a pastoral letter.

Pastoral staff Eccl., a staff, usually of the form of a shepherd's crook, borne as an official emblem by a bishop, abbot, abbess, or other prelate privileged to carry it. See Crook, and Crosier. -- Pastoral Theology, that part of theology which treats of the duties of pastors.

 

© Webster 1913.


Pas"tor*al (?), n.

1.

A poem describing the life and manners of shepherds; a poem in which the speakers assume the character of shepherds; an idyl; a bucolic.

A pastoral is a poem in which any action or passion is represented by its effects on a country life. Rambler.

2. Mus.

A cantata relating to rural life; a composition for instruments characterized by simplicity and sweetness; a lyrical composition the subject of which is taken from rural life.

Moore (Encyc. of Music).

3. Eccl.

A letter of a pastor to his charge; specifically, a letter addressed by a bishop to his diocese; also Prot. Epis. Ch., a letter of the House of Bishops, to be read in each parish.

 

© Webster 1913.

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