Not shaking the grass

Not shaking the grass

Buckwheat Field Landscape Gryka watercolour, 1920
by Stanisław Masłowski (1853-1926)



And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass

–Ezra Pound


I’ve posted this short poem before. Every time I stumble across it, it’s like finding it for the first time. A thrill of excitement, of recognition even though I don’t really remember it. Like suddenly seeing your beloved across a crowded room.

It reminds me of Robert Burn’s poem about the “Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,” but it also leads me to a different place, as well.

That absence where the grass does not shake, it’s more full than anything I can imagine.

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • I hadn’t heard that one by Ezra Pound. I think I see why you like it. The unshaken grass is heavy and full. Only what is empty can be swayed so easily. I think that one will lodge in my heart to remember as I, too, get heavier and heavier in the coming months.

    What caught my memory, though, was the snippit of Burns you posted. I was requested to recite “To a Mouse,” and “To a Louse,” for our college poetry recital at FUS. I spent days working on my delivery, making the Scottish burr halfway-comprehensible. After all, a poem that you recite out loud needs to be understood, right? My prof took me aside before the recital and said, “Maria, they’re going to have a transcription printed in the program; you’re allowed to have fun with it.” Oh, my ears perked up! “Aroogh? I could have FUN? After all I tried to get the accent tamed, I could just let it run wild?!” “I wo’ be lathe to run and chase thee with murrrrrdrous prattle…” It was a joy, and I still have a soft spot for dear Robbie Burns.

    • Oh that’s delightful. What fun!

      When I was in high school one of the first cds I bought was a compilation of Burns songs. I played it over and over again in the afternoons after I came home from school while I sipped my tea and ate artistically arranged snacks. I think it was mainly love songs. I’m not even sure why I bought it except that I vaguely wanted something Scottish and there wasn’t all that much in the international section at the music store in those days.