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Wild Gods

A community honoring Artemis, Pan, and Dionysus

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Poetry

Festival altar

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Altar to Orpheus and the Muses, Dionysus and Apollo. At Orpheus Descending festival, 2018.
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Tom Hirons, “Merrivale”

Speak to me in the language of
Stone and Moss: the brook and
Fox-den know well my mother-tongue.
Let us be clear:
This Moor-language sings sweeter
In my ear than all the songs
I ever heard from angels,
Clear and beautiful as they were.
I tell you no lie,
Not here.

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“Hymn of Pan,” Percy Bysshe Shelley

From the forests and highlands
         We come, we come;
From the river-girt islands,
         Where loud waves are dumb
                Listening to my sweet pipings.
The wind in the reeds and the rushes,
         The bees on the bells of thyme,
The birds on the myrtle bushes,
         The cicale above in the lime,
And the lizards below in the grass,
Were as silent as ever old Tmolus was,
                Listening to my sweet pipings.
Liquid Peneus was flowing,
         And all dark Tempe lay
In Pelion’s shadow, outgrowing
         The light of the dying day,
                Speeded by my sweet pipings.
The Sileni, and Sylvans, and Fauns,
         And the Nymphs of the woods and the waves,
To the edge of the moist river-lawns,
         And the brink of the dewy caves,
And all that did then attend and follow,
Were silent with love, as you now, Apollo,
                With envy of my sweet pipings.
I sang of the dancing stars,
         I sang of the daedal Earth,
And of Heaven, and the giant wars,
         And Love, and Death, and Birth—
                And then I chang’d my pipings,
Singing how down the vale of Maenalus
         I pursu’d a maiden and clasp’d a reed.
Gods and men, we are all deluded thus!
         It breaks in our bosom and then we bleed.
All wept, as I think both ye now would,
If envy or age had not frozen your blood,
                At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.

Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Migrating Geese - panoramio

Mary Oliver, “Music”

I tied together
a few slender reeds, cut
notches to breathe across and made
such music you stood
shock still and then

followed as I wandered growing
moment by moment
slant-eyes and shaggy, my feet
slamming over the rocks, growing
hard as horn, and there

you were behind me, drowning
in the music, letting
the silver clasps out of your hair,
hurrying, taking off
your clothes.

I can’t remember
where this happened but I think
it was late summer when everything
is full of fire and rounding to fruition
and whatever doesn’t,
or resists,
must lie like a field of dark water under
the pulling moon,
tossing and tossing.

In the brutal elegance of cities
I have walked down
the halls of hotels

and heard this music behind
shut doors.

Do you think the heart
is accountable? Do you think the body
any more than a branch
of the honey locust tree,

hunting water,
hunching toward the sun,
shivering, when it feels
that good, into
white blossoms?

Or do you think there is a kind
of music, a certain strand
that lights up the otherwise
blunt wilderness of the body –
a furious
and unaccountable selectivity?

Ah well, anyway, whether or not
it was late summer, or even
in our part of the world, it is all
only a dream, I did not
turn into the lithe goat god. Nor did you come running
like that.

Did you?

from Walt Whitman

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d.

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

So they show their relations to me and I accept them,

They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession.

reminder

the-city-is-2
Installation by Robert Montgomery.

Stephen Dunn, Dancing with God

At first the surprise
of being singled out,
the dance floor crowded
and me not looking my best,
a too-often-worn dress
and the man with me
a budding casualty
of one repetition too much.
God just touched his shoulder
and he left.
Then the confirmation
of an old guess:
God was a wild god,
into the most mindless rock,
but graceful,
looking—this excited me—
like no one I could love,
cruel mouth, eyes evocative
of promises unkept.
I never danced better, freer,
as if dancing were my way
of saying how easily
I could be with him, or apart.
When the music turned slow
God held me close
and I felt for a moment
I’d mistaken him,
that he was Death
and this the famous embrace
before the lights go out.
But God kept holding me
and I him
until the band stopped
and I stood looking at a figure
I wanted to slap
or forgive for something,
I couldn’t decide which.
He left then, no thanks,
no sign
that he’d felt anything
more than an earthly moment
with someone who could’ve been
anyone on earth.
To this day I don’t know why
I thought he was God,
though it was clear
there was no going back
to the man who brought me,
nice man
with whom I’d slept
and grown tired,
who danced wrong,
who never again
could do anything right.

Poet’s website

Nikita Gill, Girls of the Wild

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