Posts Tagged ‘ poetry ’

poetry’s green pastures

So You, too...
by Denise Levertov
So you, too, are a part of me. My solitude
always beginning, as grass grows, is a tide
running at daybreak out of the grayrose east
to slide over the sand, encircle
the drowned beauty, the dead bird, the old boot;
my life explores the caves, pours into pools,
hunts with the starry hunters. I stretch out
fingers of grass, fingers of flame, and touch
my own name engraved on air, own flesh
walking towards me down a dream. I wheel
as a wave pounces, unmask the stranger:
you too a part of me, I enter the gate of your eyes,
my beggar, my brother, answer of the sea.

I’ve been visiting and revisiting Denise and her magic pen since returning from Len & Liz Sweet’s Orcas Island home last week. While with the Sweets and other friends, I shared part of my desire to find fresh perspective in some specific spheres of life, toward that end Len guided me back to Levertov’s green pastures.

Peace, dwight

God’s grandeur

I’ve gone on prayers walks; I’ve gone on semiotic walks; I’ve gone on nature walks but until this morning I had never even heard of poetry walks. Paul Steinke guided a number of us into one of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ many glorious pieces. After laboring in vain to get us to memorize the poem he took us on the road, blessing the early morning silence of our learning community’s spaces with verse.

I encourage you to read this modern psalm out loud at least three or four times. Let the sounds resonate through your being and feel it. Let the images dance in the eye or your heart and see it, and let the words have their way with you . . . surrender to it.


God’s Grandeur

Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


peace, dwight

a poem for labor day

Things to Think
by Robert Bly

Think in ways you’ve never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.

When someone knocks on the door, think that he’s about
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time, or that it’s
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.

* * *

peace, dwight

catching for all


by Rainer Maria Rilke


Catch only what you’ve thrown yourself, all is

mere skill and little gain;

but when you’re suddenly the catcher of a ball

thrown by an eternal partner

with accurate and measured swing

towards you, to your center, in an arch

from the great bridgebuilding of God:

why catching then becomes a power –

not yours, a world’s.


Peace, dwight

there is a community of the spirit

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.


Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.


Close both your eyes
to see with the other eye.


Open your hands
if you want to be held.


Sit down in this circle.


Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.


At night, your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.


Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.


You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”

Twenty more will come.


Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!


Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?


Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.


Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.”


by Rumi – from The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks

meanwhile . . .

Wild Geese 

by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves. 
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 
Meanwhile the world goes on. 
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers. 
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again. 
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

peace, dwight

how might this connect with yesterday’s post?

The Journey
by Mary Oliver


One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

embrac’d and open

show me deare Christ

by John Donne, Holy Sonnets – XVIII

Show me deare Christ, thy Spouse, so bright and clear. 
What! is it She, which on the other shore 
Goes richly painted? or which rob'd and tore 
Laments and mournes in Germany and here? 
Sleepes she a thousand, then peepes up one yeare? 
Is she selfe truth and errs? now new, now outwore? 
Doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore 
On one, on seaven, or on no hill appeare? 
Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights 
First travaile we to seek and then make Love? 
Betray kind husband thy spouse to our sights, 
And let myne amorous soule court thy mild Dove, 
Who is most trew, and pleasing to thee, then 
When she is embrac'd and open to most men. 

psalm of life

A Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, read by Rev. Michael Haynes 



Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.



Life is real—life is earnest—

And the grave is not its goal:

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.



Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destin’d end or way;

But to act, that each to-morrow

Find us farther than to-day.



Art is long, and time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.



In the world’s broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!



Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act—act in the glorious Present!

Heart within, and God o’er head!



Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footsteps on the sands of time.



Footsteps, that, perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwreck’d brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.



Let us then be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.

. . . and humility?

Totally like whatever, you know?
by Taylor Mali

In case you hadn’t noticed,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you’re talking about?
Or believe st

rongly in what you’re saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)’s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren’t, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences – so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
as opposed to other things which were, like, not –
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don’t think I’m uncool just because I’ve noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It’s like what I’ve heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I’m just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?

What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know?
That we’ve just gotten to the point where it’s just, like . . .

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we’ve become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You have to speak with it, too.

Peace, dwight