Category Archives: “Saint Francis and the Sow”

“Saint Francis and the Sow”

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 its 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 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,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer 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.

Galway Kinnell

“Saint Francis and the Sow” Analysis:

Galway Kinnell’s “Saint Francis and the Sow” concentrates on multiple themes that involve innocence, guilt, beauty, and loveliness. At the beginning of the poem, Kinnell refers to “The bud” as “all things”. A bud is simply the first phase of a flowers life. However, buds can represent many different things, including the potential of beauty to come, pureness, and innocence. A bud is pure and I assume refers to infancy, which also implies that it’s primitive. The thoughtful claim in the first two lines of the poem suggest that the bud has ubiquitous characteristics. The type of characteristics that which influence some sort of substance on “all things”. That being said, it’s quite ironic how something as powerful as “The bud” sits on a line by itself in the poem. It’s as if the bud is actually susceptible. Also, included throughout the poem are senses and descriptions of the pig. “From the earthen snout all the way through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail”. Kinnell uses the sow to differentiate its spirit and body.

Certain lines from this poem regard quite a lot of people in this day in age of society. “Though sometimes it is necessary, to reteach a thing its loveliness”. The line suggests that it’s often necessary to remind others that there isn’t one standard of physical loveliness. Everything is lovely in its own unique way. A large portion of our culture is fixated on an absolutely wrong perception of what beauty actually is. This poem influences individuals to try and love themselves for who they are, not what someone else thinks you should be. “To put a hand on its brow, of the flower, and retell it in words and in touch, it is lovely”. Kinnell could not have done a better job reaffirming this to the reader with “Saint Francis and the Sow”.


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