Thursday, December 06, 2012
This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.
The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.
No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.
No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.
- Billy Collins
This is my favorite poem by Billy Collins, who usually employs the mask of irony and sophisticated skepticism to present his notions. Here, it is as if he is overcome by the deep emotion of love itself, love for everything no matter how small or seemingly trivial. This state of universal love was called by one person "seeing with saint's eyes." In this state everything and everyone is beautiful--we are in love with the universe, for, as Yeats said, "Everything we look upon is blessed."
Here is another quote on this central theme: [For the sage] hand in hand with anxiety and fear, ugliness is put to flight. Gems sparkle on dusty roads, puddles appear as lapis lazuli; tough weeds acquire fragile beauty; dung takes on the charm of delicately mottled amber." (John Blofield in his "TheSecret and the Sublime," quoted by June Singer in "Androgyny," p. 202.)
To be in such state is, I think, a special blessing--many experience it during Kundalini or other forms of spiritual awakening. It is my guess that when we experience this condition, our brains become wonderfully balanced, and then, indeed, the world and all its aspects appear beautiful. It the the alchemy of love in its best expression.
Collins never directly connects his experience to the divine or the sacred. He does not tell us what precipitates his transition into this state of joyous receptivity. He simply recounts the "facts" of the day in catalogue fashion, leaving the reader to draw his/her own conclusions. I personally believe that such states offer a more or less direct connection to divine reality, and reveal to us what it is to exist transformed by unconditional love. May we all know such states as we enter the next stage of human evolution, where love will be the key to full awareness.