St. Francis and the Sow – the Essence of Metta in a Poem (with Music)

St. Francis and the Sow

By Galway Kinnell

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;

as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of the earth on the sow,

and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,

down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.


Here is some incredibly beautiful music from from the movie Amélie.  The composition by Yann Tiersen is called “Comptine d’un autre été – L’après-midi.”   This poignant music seems to me to fit the poem beautifully:

You can purchase this music here at iTunes:


About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

10 Responses to “St. Francis and the Sow – the Essence of Metta in a Poem (with Music)”

  1. Thank YOU! It doesn’t look as if anything is coming up in the U.S. in the near future, but I’ve bookmarked the page. How cool would THAT be?!!


  2. Thanks, mate! My aspirations too.

    Your “GEEK STUFF” is great point; I had unconsciously started to do this just a little, with some self-referential posts to older posts. I wish us dot COM WordPress folks had the way cool “Related Posts” feature that the dot ORG version of WordPress automatically generates. As you know, I’ve tramped all over your site that way, finding “buried” treasures a plenty! Arrrh, matey!

    I’ll definitely go back and add some “related links” to my earlier– a great idea. As always, thanks for your support. You and your site have been an inspiration from the very start.

    Visitors, FYI: for exotic undersea beasties, for beauties rare, for sunrises of glory, and for some damn fine writing, you can do no better than Madang-Ples Bilong Mi:


  3. Gotta admit, mate. That’s the first time I’ve considered the emotions of a sow.

    The “spritual curl of the tail” . . . that’s the kind of wordsmanship to which I aspire.

    Thanks for another fine moment.

    GEEK STUFF: Web journaler to web journaler, you’ve got enough posts now that you might think about linking back whenever there is a relational connection between a word or thougtht in a current post to a previous one. This keeps readers on your site and allows them to discover the depth of your content. I’ve gotten lazy lately about doing it and I can see it reflected in the number of pages hit by the average visitor. However, it’s not about numbers, it’s about helping the visitor.

  4. Hi again, Steve,

    I’m just starting to look at your blog.

    This is so beautiful; it almost made me cry–especially “down through the great broken heart.” Galway was my poetry teacher in grad school (unfortunately, at the time, I was a pretty decent poet but a terrible and irresponsible student…).

    I don’t think I’ve read a poem I liked so much in a VERY long time!



    • Hey Nancy! Thanks. The poem always gets me, no matter how many times I read it.

      Gosh, Galway was your teacher! That’s amazing. (Ah, “irresponsible” youth! Been there, done that, in so many ways! Happily, we learn and grow.)

      Looking forward, likewise, to learning more about your blog and its purpose.

      Thanks for stopping by.


    • (I answered on your blog, but wanted to thank you here as well.)

      Yes, this poem always gets me, deep down too. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Amazing to have Galway as a teacher. I’ll have to see if you’ve posted any of your poetry on your blog, assuming it’s the kind of poetry that fits your blogs purpose.

      Thanks for stopping by. Steve

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