Don’t Miss It

Although I have been following the news in Israel, I personally choose to continue reading poetry as my own antidote to hatred. With all the violence taking place in the Middle East and the accompanying hatred that spreads its venom far beyond the Middle East, when even the magical blogdom has become infected, it’s far too easy to get caught up in anger and despair. The truth, though, is that life doesn’t wait, and if we miss the beauty of spring, or, for that matter, the beauty of life, then the terrorists will simply have another victory, even if but a minor one.

In the midst of reading A.R. Ammons delightful The Selected Poems, expanded edition, “Eyesight” caught my attention. While there are more significant poems I will discuss shortly, this one reminded me of why I took my latest trip to California.

After my recent illness I was determined not to miss another important moment in my life, refusing to remain lost in the inevitable stress that has consumed much of my life. At least this time I will try to pay attention to what is truly important.

“Eyesight” is one of those poems that allows us to see what is truly important:


It was May before my
attention came
to spring and

my word I said
to the southern slopes

missed it, it
came and went before
I got right to see:

don’t worry, said the mountain,
try the later northern slopes
or if

you can climb, climb
into spring: but
said the mountain

it’s not that way
with all things, some
that go are gone

The critical lines are, “it/ came and went before/ I got right to see.” Much of life is like that, got to get right before you see what’s truly there to see. Such a simple concept, yet getting right can be hard to do. Some never do get right until it’s too late.

Sometimes even if you know better it takes a good shaking up — something saying, “Do you think you’ll always be here to enjoy these things you love?” –- before you actually stop and notice the beauty that is your natural heritage.

Luckily, true beauty is eternal and even ephemeral beauty is seasonal. So, if we are lucky, in nature we can simply go somewhere else to see what we have missed.

Truth is, I’ll be seeing “spring” and its revival of life for quite awhile now. By driving 600 miles south to San Francisco I’ve already seen most of spring, but I returned home to the Northwest to find my daffodils and my earliest tulips in full bloom.

Soon, I’ll head up into the mountains, following the deer and elk climbing into Spring in the mountains for another month or so. Can there ever be too much beauty in your life, especially when there’s so much hatred ?