Wild Geese Essay, Research Paper
English-14 / R16 / Poetry/Ateneo de Manila
21 February 2000
WAITING FOR YOU
Of spotted hawks and wild Geese
“I stop somewhere waiting for you.” Walt Whitman’s poem ends with this seemingly undeviating line.
The whole poem itself speaks of the persona’s encounter with a spotted hawk, through whose statements we find both profound and simple meanings. Profound in the sense that it speaks of situations where one is ‘untranslatable.’ Simple in the sense that everyday things like dirt and grass, are used as the objects of symbolism.
“I too am not a bit tamed… I too am untranslatable.” This is the start of the hawk’s declarations, stating the similarities between the persona and himself (the hawk). The absence of quotations would make it appear as if all lines come from the persona. But reread the poem, and one finds that indeed it is the hawk speaking. By “not a bit tamed” and “untranslatable,” the hawk means partially wild and quite unintelligible. Both the hawk and the persona therefore possess these said qualities.
The next few lines speak of this being wild, the seemingly untranslatable actions that the hawk does. From “sounding barbaric yawps” to “bequeathing [one's self] to the dirt,” the lines speak of being wild and untamed. Though there are no statements that relate these actions to that of a human, we see the image of rituals that signify bestiality. But more than just bestiality, these lines convey the images of being one with wilderness and nature; being in sync with the flow of things.
“You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,” says the spotted hawk. This statement complements the ‘untranslatable-ness’ that the hawk speaks of in the first few lines. Unintelligible and obscure, that is what the hawk declares him, and the persona, to be.
“Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged,” the spotted hawk proclaims. He now says that it takes more than one try to find him, in his savagery and wildness. One needs to try several times, not to give up so easily. The search for the ‘wild side’ of one’s self, the symbolism of the spotted hawk, requires patience. “Keep encouraged,” he says. Though there is no direct reason why the persona has to search and to find this spotted hawk, the line progresses to “missing me one place, search for another.” There is the suggestion of persistence, as with the first line of this stanza.
Now the last line gives reason and meaning to why the persona has to search, has to find. “I stop somewhere waiting for you.” Why does the persona have to search for the spotted hawk, in all its wildness and savagery? The last line answers this question. Because it is there, waiting, waiting to be found.
Like the reason mountain climbers give to justify their climbing of mountains, the reason why the persona must strive to find the spotted hawk is ‘because it is there.” Because it exists, because it waits, that is why it must be found.
The line this author has chosen, “I stop somewhere waiting for you,” is the totality of the whole poem. All the preceding lines speak of the animal-ness of the hawk, which is said to be present in the persona, and in everyone. “I too an not a bit tamed…” and the other lines follow, describing how it is to be untamed, untranslatable. And where is all this untamed life, this seemingly unintelligible purpose? It lies somewhere, existing. It has stopped somewhere, waiting.
In the poem “Wild Geese,” the way of the world is disclosed. “Meanwhile the world goes on.” The world, and its motion, continues, unaffected by one’s feelings. Nature takes its course even if you are good, or evil. “You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
This is where we see the point of finding the spotted hawk inside of us. To be at peace with one’s self, one has to be free. One has to surrender to the animal, to the savage. Because the world is there to be seen and to be felt, continuing its irreversible path to tomorrow, following the scheme of things. “The world goes on… the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.” One can be sure that all that should happen will happen, like the heading home of the wild geese. Ever heard of the expression “as sure as the sun will rise?”
And indeed, the sun will rise. One of the may reasons why we have to be at peace with the spotted hawk, the savage beast, in all of us. It has stopped somewhere, waiting.
Jay here! no point telling my lifestory. good luck with this paper!