(Poem #1197) Each in his own Tongue
A fire-mist and a planet, A crystal and a cell, A jelly-fish and a saurian, And caves where the cave-men dwell; Then a sense of law and beauty And a face turned from the clod, -- Some call it Evolution, And others call it God. A haze on the far horizon, The infinite, tender sky, The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields, And the wild geese sailing high; And all over upland and lowland The charm of the golden-rod, -- Some of us call it Autumn, And others call it God. Like tides on a crescent sea-beach, When the moon is new and thin, Into our hearts high yearnings Come welling and surging in: Come from the mystic ocean, Whose rim no foot has trod, -- Some of us call it Longing, And others call it God. A picket frozen on duty, A mother starved for her brood, Socrates drinking the hemlock, And Jesus on the rood; And millions who, humble and nameless, The straight, hard pathway plod, -- Some call it Consecration, And others call it God.
(1859-1924) Notes: saurian: dinosaur. rood: cross. fire-mist: I have no idea, and neither do any of the dictionaries I checked. Lovely word, though :) Today's poem is a surprisingly gentle look at the dichotomy between religious and 'natural' explanations of the universe. Unlike most such poems I've read, Carruth seems genuinely to be saying that both interpretations are valid; or, rather, that both sides are appreciating the same underlying thing, just under different names. This differs sharply from, say, Saxe's blind men, who "all were in the wrong" [Poem #1179], or Catherine Faber's "Humans wrote the Bible, God wrote the sky" [Poem #803, strongly reminiscent of today's], where there's a definite "your way is not the right way" undertone. Carruth chooses, instead, to explore the numinous via a series of images, the implication being that this is the important part, and what you call it essentially a footnote. Of course, I make no claim that this is the One True Reading of the poem, or even necessarily a correct one - Carruth might just as well be saying people who speak of God are merely seeking to lump everything under one explanation, or, conversely, that people who do *not* speak of God see the facets but miss the jewel; however, if either of these was his intent he has done an admirable job of being fair to the other side. And either way, there's some beautiful imagery in there - which, more than anything else, is what makes this a good poem. martin Biography: http://skyways.lib.ks.us/genweb/shawnee/library/KSHSvol12/carruth.txt