Recently I organized a conference in Assisi where I had the opportunity to share some poems that I have learned. I was asked if I was willing to share them, unfortunately by the time I got home I had quite forgotten which ones I had recited but it reminded me that I had only posted the original twenty-three on my original post and since then I have learned sixteen more so here they are:
The Meadow by Kate Knapp Johnson
Half the day lost, staring
at this window. I wanted to know
just one true thing
about the soul, but I left thinking
for thought, and now –
two inches of snow have fallen
over the meadow.
Where did I go,
how long was I out looking
for you?, who would never leave me,
my withness, my here.
Gratitude to Old Teachers by Robert Bly
When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,
We place our feet where they have never been.
We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.
Who is down there but our old teachers?
Water that once could take no human weight-
We were students then-holds up our feet,
And goes on ahead of us for a mile.
Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness.
Wildness of God by Donna Crouch
There are no prison bars within the Soul
Nothing can contain the wildness of God
Given freely to every beating heart
Stop and listen, open your arms to the spacious silence and receive
Nothing, no one can take away that freedom
Created to fan the divine spark
Burning invisibly, deep and clean
Within the unlocked and open doors of unfettered liberty.
Extract from Daniel Ladinsky’s Love Poems from God attributed to St. Francis.
Yes I will console any creature before me
Who is not full of laughing and passion for his art and work
For laughing and passion, beauty and joy
They are our heart’s truth
All else is labour and foreign to the Soul.
Extract from Baghdad Dreaming by Rumi
Either this deep desire of mine
will be fond on this journey
or when I get home
It may be that the satisfaction I need
Depends on my going away, so that when I have gone
And come back I will find it at home.
I will search for the Friend with all of my passion
And all my energy until I learn
that I don’t need to search.
The real truth of existence is sealed,
until after too many twists of the road.
The seeker says,
“If I had known the real way it was,
I would have stopped looking around”
But that way of knowing depends
on the time spent looking.
What Can I Say from Swan by Mary Oliver
What can I say that I have not said before?
So I’ll say it again.
The leaf has a song in it.
Stone is the face of patience.
Inside the river there is an unfinishable story
and you are somewhere in it
and it will never end until all ends.
Take your busy heart to the art museum and the
chamber of commerce
but take it also to the forest.
The song you heard singing in the leaf when you
were a child
is singing still.
I am of years lived, so far, seventy-four,
and the leaf is singing still.
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 your 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.
There Are So Many Gifts Unopened by Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)
There are so many gifts
Still unopened from your birthday,
there are so many hand-crafted presents
that have been sent to you by God.
The Beloved does not mind repeating,
“Everything I have is also yours.”
Please forgive Hafiz and the Friend
if we break into a sweet laughter
when your heart complains of being thirsty
when ages ago every cell in your soul
capsized forever into this infinite golden sea…
There are so many gifts, my dear,
still unopened from your birthday.
O, there are so many hand-crafted presents
that have been sent to your life
Before We Leave – Stephen Dunn.
Just so it’s clear—
no whining on the journey.
If you whine, you’ll get stuck
somewhere with people
like yourself. It’s an unwritten law.
Wear hiking boots. Pack food
and a change of clothes.
We go slowly. Endurance won’t
be enough, though without it
you can’t get to the place
where more of you is asked.
Expect there will be times
when you’ll be afraid.
Hold hands and tremble together
if you must but remember
each of you is alone.
Where are we going?
It’s not an issue of here or there.
And if you ever feel you can’t
take another step imagine
how you might feel to arrive,
if not wiser, a little more aware
how to inhabit the middle ground
between misery and joy.
Trudge on. In the higher regions,
where the footing is unsure,
to trudge is to survive.
Happiness is another journey,
almost over before it starts,
guaranteed to disappoint.
If you’ve come for it, say so,
you’ll get your money back.
I hope you all realize that anytime
is a fine time to laugh. Fake it,
however, and false laughter
will accompany you like a cowbell
for the rest of your days.
You’ll forever lack the seriousness
of a clown. At some point
the rocks will be jagged,
the precipice sheer. That won’t be
the abyss you’ll see looking down.
The abyss, you’ll discover
(if you’ve made it this far),
is usually nearer than that—
at the bottom of something
you’ve yet to resolve,
or posing as your confidante.
Follow me. Don’t follow me. I will
say such things, and mean both.
Waiting by David White from River Flow
…It must be we are waiting for the perfect moment.
It must be under all the struggle we want to go on.
It must be, that deep down, we are creatures getting ready for when we are needed.
It must be that waiting for the listening ear or the appreciative word,
for the right woman or the right man or the right moment just to ourselves,
we are getting ready just to be ready and nothing else.
The way that everything unbeknownst to us is preparing to meet us too.
Just on the other side of the door someone is about to knock
and our life is just about to change
and finally after all these years rehearsing behind the curtain,
we might just be ready to go on.
Break by Doriane Laux
We put the puzzle together piece
by piece, loving how one curved
notch fits so sweetly with another.
A yellow smudge becomes
the brush of a broom, and two blue arms
fill in the last of the sky.
We patch together porch swings and autumn
trees, matching gold to gold. We hold
the eyes of deer in our palms, a pair
of brown shoes. We do this as the child
circles her room, impatient
with her blossoming, tired
of the neat house, the made bed,
the good food. We let her brood
as we shuffle through the pieces,
setting each one into place with a satisfied
tap, our backs turned for a few hours
to a world that is crumbling, a sky
that is falling, the pieces
we are required to return to.
Only One Ruler by Hafiz
Is a suspended blue ocean.
The stars are the fish
The planets are the white whales
I sometimes hitch a ride on,
And the sun and all light
Have forever fused themselves
Into my heart and upon
There is only one rule
On this Wild Playground,
For every sign Hafiz has ever seen
Reads the same.
They all say,
“Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun,
In the Beloved’s Divine Game
O, in the Beloved’s
A Grain Of Sand by Robert William Service
If starry space no limit knows
And sun succeeds to sun,
There is no reason to suppose
Our earth the only one.
‘Mid countless constellations cast
A million worlds may be,
With each a God to bless or blast
And steer to destiny.
Just think! A million gods or so
To guide each vital stream,
With over all to boss the show
A Deity supreme.
Such magnitudes oppress my mind;
From cosmic space it swings;
So ultimately glad to find
Relief in little things. j
For look! Within my hollow hand,
While round the earth careens,
I hold a single grain of sand
And wonder what it means.
Ah! If I had the eyes to see,
And brain to understand,
I think Life’s mystery might be
Solved in this grain of sand.
To Build a Swing by Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)
All the ingredients
To turn your life into a nightmare
Don’t mix them!
You have all the genius
To build a swing in your backyard
Like a hell lot more fun.
Let’s start laughing, drawing blueprints,
Gathering our talented friends.
I will help you
With my divine lyre and drum.
Hafiz will sing a thousand words
You can take into your hands,
Like golden saws,
Strong silk rope.
You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,
Mix them, mix them.
It’s a Beautiful Time to be Alive by Em Claire
It’s a beautiful time to be alive.
And the long walk home is peopled –
We are everywhere.
Yet the struggle to surrender is where we often walk alone.
So the next time you fall
Look to either side where you lie
and take the hand of your dear Brother or Sister
whose own face is muddied.
We can rise together,
even if we fall alone –
for its a beautiful time to be alive
even on this long walk home.
Doors of Perception by William Blake (from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)
If the doors of perception were cleansed
Every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.
For man has closed himself up,
Till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.
From Auguries of Innocence By William Blake
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
No man is an Island by John Donne
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.