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Monday, September 8, 2014

Dag Hammarskjold

"What is one to do on a bleak day but drift for a while through the streets — drift with the stream."

Swedish Diplomat/Author
1905 - 1961

Drifting is an art that many of us have never learned.  In our fast pace world where we seek to climb the ladder of success and produce more and more artistic work, we never stop and rest.  Even our vacations are full of doing.  We joke about going back to work in order to rest from our vacation.

In farming, there is a concept of letting the field lay fallow for a year — not to plant any crops.  The soil needs a break in order to replenish itself.  And the same is true of artists and writers.  We must learn to rest — to drift without direction or purpose, to lay fallow in order to replenish and restore our souls.  We must learn to enjoy a warm autumn afternoon simply for the sake of enjoying. 

From 2006 to 2012 I averaged writing more than two poems a day.  For the last two years I have written less than 75 a year.  My poetic field is fallow.  My subconscious is replenishing itself.  I need the down time in order to rejuvenate my spirit.  I am drifting down the stream, waiting for the next big surge.

Dag Hammarskjold was born in Jonkoping, Sweden, the youngest son of Hjalmar Hammarskjold, Prime Minister of Sweden from 1914 - 1917.  Dag had a successful career as a public servant in Sweden, working in the central bank, ministry of finance, and ministry of  foreign affairs.  He became the second UN Secretary-General in 1953, a post he held until his death in 1961 in a airplane crash in Northern Rhodesia.  He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961 after his death.

Hammarskjold's only book, Markings, was published in 1963.  The book is a collection of his diary reflections and haiku.