There are men too gentle to live among wolves

“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter.

“We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.

“For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.”

James Kavanaugh on his first book of poems There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves. An ex-priest, he wrote it in the early Seventies when he was living in a tiny flat in New York, surviving off peanut butter and processed cheese. He died in 2009 at the ripe age of 81.

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Here are three from it:

Where are you hiding my love?
Each day without you will never come again.
Even today you missed a sunset on the ocean,
A silver shadow on yellow rocks I saved for you,
A squirrel that ran across the road,
A duck diving for dinner.
My God! There may be nothing left to show you
Save wounds and weariness
And hopes grown dead,
And wilted flowers I picked for you a lifetime ago,
Or feeble steps that cannot run to hold you,
Arms too tired to offer you to a roaring wind,
A face too wrinkled to feel the ocean’s spray.

and

I saw my face today
And it looked older,
Without the warmth of wisdom
Or the softness
Born of pain and waiting.
The dreams were gone from my eyes,
Hope lost in hollowness
On my cheeks,
A finger of death
Pulling at my jaws.

So I did my push-ups
And wondered if I’d ever find you,
To see my face
With friendlier eyes than mine.

plus of course

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who prey upon them with IBM eyes
And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.
There are men too gentle for a savage world
Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween
And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws
And murder them for a merchant’s profit and gain.
There are men too gentle for a corporate world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who devour them with appetite and search
For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry.
There are men too gentle for an accountant’s world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.
There are men too gentle to live among wolves

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove
Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant’s world
Unless they have a gentle one to love.

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