St. Francis and the Sow

Kinnell, Galway

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: May-17-1999
  • Last revised: Jan-09-2007


The bud / stands for all things, / even for things that don't flower . . . .

The poet observes that everything flowers from within, if given the chance. Sometimes, however, a being doesn't understand its own loveliness and must be retaught. St. Francis, for example, had to "put his hand on the creased forehead / of the sow . . ." and reveal to her how blessed she was, before she could remember throughout her whole being "the long perfect loveliness of sow."


Kinnell celebrates the essential goodness and beauty of all things. This is a powerful poem for healing.

Primary Source

Mortal Acts, Mortal Words


Houghton Mifflin

Place Published