In beauty, in beauty

US appoints first Native American poet laureate

Wolfgang Weber

Amidst a lot of bleak news coming out of the United States, something to celebrate: the appointment of Joy Harjo as poet laureate—the first Native American to be hold that post. Oklahoma born, she is of the Muscogee Creek Nation, and much of her writing addresses the social invisibility of America’s first people.

“My poems are about confronting the kind of society that would diminish Native people, disappear us from the story of this country,” she says.

Of the role of poetry in times of crisis, she says: “We’re at a very crucial time in American history and in planetary history. Poetry is a way to bridge, to make bridges from one country to another, one person to another, one time to another.”

Here is one of her poems to lift the spirit and inspire the reader to “take the utmost care and kindness in all things.”

Eagle poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

– Joy Harjo