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What do we really know of others or ourselves? I may sometimes complacently profess ‘self knowledge’ but very often I surprise ‘myself ‘ and I do believe we are all in process of becoming ‘ourselves’.
Â Our queues of assumptions and knowledges are often assembled together to prove our own rightness andÂ we impose our belief systemsÂ on othersÂ – more self serving dissection than care; more self righteousness and blindness than compassionateÂ Â acceptance. Â I only read this poem for the first time a week ago and I think it one of the most spiritually powerful, emotionally affecting poems I have ever read.Â The intimacy is without conditionality or ambivalence. I don’t think I have read anything asÂ searchingly knowing Â about the very primal texture of love.
‘to plunge fingers/ into rough glowing hair.’
Sheenagh Pugh’s marvellous evocation of the profound trustÂ between the Lion keeper and the Lion,Â celebrates a physically warm, intuitive connection that expresses love without fearÂ , without our human tendency for Â ‘debt gathering’ .Â The sensory awareness, the ‘aliveness’ of the care Â between the two beings is so beautifully expressed, Â that I keep on reading the words again and again because they resound inside, somewhere far deeper than linguistic avowals of love can reach. Â My grandma always used to sayÂ Â the actions of others reveal the truth. She was very watchful and very quiet. Sometimes, though of course not all the times, affectionate words,Â Â she believed, were too easily spoken. Â I am sure carol Ann Duffy shares this view as many of her poems suggest! Â Trust the truth of the deed not the changeable reality of the word she would say. My grandmother never married again after the death of my grandfather and I am sure she stuck to her independence for very good reason after his rather dictatorial ways were over and she was free.
The actions of the Â keeper here remind usÂ that love is most powerful when most simply and directly expressed. Hugs and physically expressed tenderness heal . The keeper listens to the lion’s body through his own,Â hearing ‘the deepest purr in the world’ , reconciled to theÂ unique life of another, because phyically listening reaches deep into the spirit of another and here, finds the soul. Those who say animals have no souls should read this poem!
Heaven through touch. Being alive to the life of anotherÂ – even your own.
The emptiness of the world when the ‘lion’Â leaves him through death, reveals theÂ devastation of physical absence.
Where can he go without his reason to be here?
Loss reduces the world to mere detail. An assembly ofÂ words without substance.
Mere crowds and noise. ‘The sound and the fury, signfying nothing.’
”Who could stroke his head, who knew
how it felt to plunge fingers
into rough glowing fur, who has heard
the deepest purr in the world.
but who knows no way to let go
of love, to walk out of sunlight,
to be an old man in a city
without a lion.”
How to write a good essay!
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