Fleeing Wolves

In the early 1900s, American lyric poet Sara Teasdale writes,

How can our minds and bodies be
Grateful enough that we have spent
Here in this generous room, we three
This evening of content?

Each one of us has walked through storm
And fled the wolves along the road;
But here the hearth is wide and warm,
And for this shelter and this light
Accept, O Lord, our thanks tonight.

 

At Governor’s School East this summer, we’re singing a setting of this poem by Susan LaBarr, and I find myself going back to listen to it again and again. I don’t know if I could properly describe how or why the piece has grasped my heart so firmly, but perhaps it is because it seems to, if not encompass, at least introduce images that suggest why I love literature and music so deeply, so relentlessly.

It suggests comfort and home, that feeling of release when you finally lay down at day’s end, the unfurling of the muscles clenched and unclenched, tensed and contracted. It evokes lamplight, warmth, company, and safety.

And I believe that the true subject of most, if not all, literature is walking through storms and fleeing wolves. Perhaps that is the true subject of all our many-faceted and variegated stories – this walking through storms: this solitary journey through uncertainty and despair and doubt, this fleeing of wolves – the desperate evasion of those things that threaten to destroy, to unmake, to undo us. I wonder if we ever really fight them, or if all the fighting is really actually evasion, for who can fight an invisible foe?

But here the hearth is wide and warm.

And for this shelter and this light,

Accept, O Lord, our thanks tonight.

Our thanks for the roaring hearth and for the evening of content, for our minds and bodies, for the three of us in this generous room, and maybe, just maybe, on a day when our vision isn’t clouded, our thanks even for the storm and wolves. But those days are rare,  and especially difficult, those days when we can say thanks for the wolves. It is a difficult and painful day when we can say thank you for the danger and the sadness. On those days our vision isn’t as clouded, and that makes for painful sight. For now, accept our thanks for the shelter and the light, and perhaps another day, we will thank you for the storm and the wolves.

A poem I wrote the other day for and to the Governor’s School 2014 Chorus:

 

Sing in the dark

And shout let there be

And posit the spark

That you will not see.

 

If you listen intently

And hear no reply,

Yet sing in the dark —

Into the dark —

Sing into the dark though you know not why.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiK3UVpfGPU

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One thought on “Fleeing Wolves

  1. Dear Abbie, I always enjoy your blogs and print them out for further meditation and safe keeping. It was great being with you on the 4th and introducing you to Old Salem and history in Kernersville. Thank you for going with me. I wish we had had time to go to Sallie’s new home as it is beautiful. You told me about your poetry group, and I thought you would like this quote from Robert Frost to share.

    ” It is absurd to think that the only way to tell if a poem is lasting is to wait and see if it lasts. The right reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an immortal wound- that he will never get over it. That is so say, permanence in poetry as in love is perceived instantly. It hasn’t to wait the test of time. The proof of a poem is not that we have never forgotten it, but we knew at sight we never could forget it.” Collected Poems, Preface

    Your great grandmother Joyner loved Robert Frost. She would have loved sharing with you. I was in Greensboro on Friday and had lunch with Alaina to hear about her wonderful trip and plans for the rest of the summer. She is excited about college. I will bring you two suitcases when you are ready for them. Let me know what I can do to help you get ready for your trip. Love, Mamaw

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