An Alaskan Blessing

By , March 4, 2011

Today is the new moon, which means it’s time to read another poem from Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons. Today’s poem is A Blessing. As a calendar, this is the time of year when I expect a disconnect between what Ms. Oliver saw and thought and what we’re seeing—at least this year. Her world was obviously embracing spring. Ours is still in the grip of winter.

But, the poet on my mind today isn’t Mary Oliver so much as John Meade Haines, probably Alaska’s greatest Poet Laureate, who, we learned last night, has passed away. (Read full article on him on the Anchorage Daily News Website.)

Michelle Zeiger original artwork, Winter Sprite (copyrighted image)

Mary Oliver’s poem for today reminded me of Michelle’s Winter Sprite (original artwork: Michelle Zeiger).

I first learned of John Haines when I read his foreword to John Muir’s Travels in Alaska back when I decided to escape the “outside” and return to my native state. I liked what he had to say, became curious about him, and started reading his work.

I like his poetry, but I love his prose, which I find intrinsically poetic. My favorite of his books I’ve read so far is The Stars, the Snow, the Fire: Twenty-Five Years in the Alaska Wilderness (ask your local independent bookstore).

I won’t try to claim John Haines as inspiration for our current lifestyle; that wouldn’t be true. But, when I need to read expressions of what it means to live in Alaska, I often turn to him. So often, John Haines said it best.

Rest in peace.

Read about Michelle’s Winter Sprite here.

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