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Two Jim Harrison Poems, Each Involving Indiana´s State Flower

May 31, 2010 by Reader's Connection

In Search of Small Gods


I did a post about Jim Harrison back in January–a somewhat off-kilter post, now that I look back at it–and I mentioned his collection In Search of Small Gods.


Here are two poems from the book.


“Peonies” and “Late Spring”, from In Search of Small Gods, © 2009 Copper Canyon Press. Used with permission of Copper Canyon Press






The peonies, too heavy with their beauty,
slump to the ground. I had hoped
they would live forever but ever so slowly
day by day they´re becoming the soil of their birth
with a faint tang of deliquescence about them.
Next June they´ll somehow remember to come alive again,
a little trick we have or have not learned.


Late Spring

Because of the late, cold wet spring the fruit of greenness is suddenly upon us so that in Montana you can throw yourself down just about anywhere on a green grassy bed, snooze on the riverbank and wake to a yellow-rumped warbler flitting close to your head then sipping a little standing water from a moose track. Of course pitching yourself downward you first look for hidden rocks. Nothing in nature is exactly suited to us. Meanwhile everywhere cows are napping from overeating, and their frolicsome calves don’t remember anything except this bounty. And tonight the calves will stare at the full moon glistening off the mountain snow, both snow and moon white as their mother’s milk. This year the moisture has made the peonies outside my studio so heavy with their beauty that they droop to the ground and I think of my early love, Emily Brontë. The cruelty of our different ages kept us apart. I tie and prop up the peonies to prolong their lives, just as I would have nursed Emily so she could see another spring.



  1. Jim Cannon says:

    Thanks for reminding me of two books of poetry that I enjoyed; Braided Creek and Winter Mornings. Braided Creek is a collection of haikus between Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser. Winter Morning Walk is a collection of one hundred poems on postcards from Ted Kooser to Jim Harrison as Kooser recovered from surgery.

  2. Miriam Guidero says:

    It’s not by Jim Harrison, but “Peonies at Dusk” is another peony poem by the late Jane Kenyon. I don’t have permission to quote it here, but it is out there on the web. I love peonies, and I love Jane Kenyon’s work. Thanks for sharing the two Jim Harrison poems.

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