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By Galway Kinnell

The bud

stands for all things,

even for those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;   

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;   

as Saint Francis

put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch   

blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow   

began remembering all down her thick length,   

from the earthen snout all the way

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,   

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine   

down through the great broken heart

to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering   

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.


Galway Kinnell, “Saint Francis and the Sow” from Three Books. Copyright © 2002 by Galway Kinnell. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.

Source: Three Books (2002)

Poet Bio

Galway Kinnell was born in Providence, Rhode Island. After two years of service in the U.S. Navy, he completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton and earned a graduate degree at the University of Rochester. He published many books over his long career. His book, Selected Poems (1980), received both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Kinnell served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Often focusing on the claims of nature and society on the individual, his poems explore psychological states in precise and sonorous free verse.

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