Loving Wild Things: Poetry Pearls

Free from captivity

By Vivienne Arkell

While wild things are exciting, wild can also be scary.

Being a nature lover, I am attracted to reptiles, amphibians and strange insects. Bad boys, rowdy musicians and ‘cowboys’ attract me too as they are also natures’ wild beasts. : ) But try to cage any of these creatures and bad stuff is gonna happen.

In the children’s classic, Maurice Sendak’s illustrated book Where the Wild Things Are (Harper Collins), there are also warnings of disallowing freedom and free play. Max, the young protagonist is so angry about not being able play freely and fairly, that he escapes into his imaginary world. By virtue of his defiant naughtiness he becomes king of the Wild Ones. Yet after gaining power and acceptance, Max decides to leave the forest. The Wild Things are sad and chant, “Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so.” Perhaps again confused by how love and power can coexist in a relationship, Max quickly replies “no” and magically returns back to his room to find his supper ‘was still hot’. With the power of thought and imagination, Max is able to handle bad moments and turn them into growth. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all develop those skills!

A passage by D.H Lawrence, cited in the book Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel, also references man and the need to feel un-caged.

Wild things in captivity
while they keep their own wild purity
won’t breed, they mope, they die.

All men are in captivity,
active with captive activity,
and the best won’t breed, though they don’t know why.

The great cage of our domesticity
kills sex in a man, the simplicity
of desire is distorted and twisted awry.

And so, with bitter perversity,
gritting against the great adversity,
they young ones copulate, hate it, and want to cry.

Sex is a state of grace.
In a cage it can’t take place.
Break the cage then, start in and try.

D.H. Lawrence

Both Lawrence and Sendak are cautioning us about keeping the proverbial leash too tight, or caging the spirit and soul of any animal.

Wild things and wildlife, male or female, should be respected and not caged.

This and many other poetry pearls are here to say: respect the wild and you will always be able to share in its glory.


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