"Every creature is full of God and a book about God," Meister Eckhart wrote. We can learn a lot from animals about ways to exist on the earth. There are many indications of this in Bestiary: An Anthology of Poems About Animals assembled and read by poet and translator Stephen Mitchell. His eclectic taste takes us on a wide and fascinating journey through the animal kingdom with portraits of a snail, a hawk, a panther, and a sparrow.
The selections range from the familiar (Gerard Manley Hopkins's "The Windhover" and William Blake's "The Tyger") to the exotic (Haiku by the Japanese poet Issa). One of the most dramatic poems revolves around D.H. Lawrence's close encounter with a snake at a water trough. His feelings range from fear to awe. Some of the best poems are by Pablo Neruda who writes lovingly about a cat, a bee, a hummingbird, and a rabbit. He helps us to honor animals as wise elders who have much to impart to us about the world and the great mysteries of life.