27 January 2006

Poetry Friday: "To Be Of Use"

It's Friday, poetry day! Jo(e) and Laura each have one of their own poems, Dr. Crazy one of Wallace Stevens', and I offer you one by Marge Piercy, a poem I've loved for years: To Be Of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes
almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves,
an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo,
with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and muck
to move things forward,
as to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people
who submerge in the task,
who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass
the bags along, who are not
parlor generals and field deserters but
move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in
or the fire be put out.

The work of the world
is common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands,
crumbles to dust.

But the thing
worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies,
clean and evident.

Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn
are put in museums,
but you know they were
made to be used.

The pitcher cries for water
to carry and a person for
work that is real.

Marge Piercy, in Circles on the Water, 1982

3 comments:

jo(e) said...

I love Marge Piercy's poetry.

I've so enjoyed seeing poems popping up on blogs today.

susan said...

And Laura started (or at least is using) a technorati tag (although I couldn't find my tagged post on technorati today, so I'm not sure I tagged it properly; I did start tagging the ones I saw on delicious, though). I'll add that to my list of tech stuff I need to learn more of this year. Tagged or not, the poems are wonderful.

ppolarbear said...

I have always loved this poem.