Excerpt from Meditations with the Lakota
Note: John Lame Deer, a Lakota elder, once had this to say about symbols. I like it because it suggests a good way to deal with poetry, one that works for all of us and not just Native Americans.
No title. Here it is:
We Indians live in a world of symbols and images where the spiritual and the commonplace are one. to the white man symbols are just words, spoken or written in a book. To us they are a part of nature, part of ourselves -- the earth, the sun, the wind and the rain, stones, trees, animals, even little insects like ants and grasshoppers. We try to understand them not with the head but with the heart, and we need no more than a hint to give us the meaning.
Steinmetz, Paul B., S.J. Meditations with the Lakota: Prayers, Songs, and Stories of Healing and Harmony. Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Co., 2001. 18.