thomas m wilson

On the Up Side We Have: Life

March 20th, 2009

The American poet Jane Hirshfield is the author of the following poem.


More and more I have come to admire resilience,

Not the simple resistance of a pillow whose foam returns over and over to the same shape,

But the sinuous tenacity of a tree

Finding the light newly blocked on one side

It turns in another

A blind intelligence, true

But out of such persistence

Arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs

All this resonace, unnretractable earth.

In her portrait of the rising sap of evolution the poet intimates something I feel when looking on the green, emergent life of a forest or woodland.  It is this unfolding, endlessly optimistic spirit in the wood, leaves and mitochondrial pulse of life that provokes a feeling of… you fill in the blank space.  I’m sure endless numbers of cliche-ridden poems have been written to fill that blank space in, many of them harping on spring time in the British Isles.  In the cliche-free language of Dylan Thomas it is ‘the force that through the green fuse drives the flower’.

Like Hirshfield I can’t help but admire the persistance of evolution: that meandering and long-flowing river that has brought us turtles, figs and mitochondria.