Wales

National Poetry Day

NationalPoetryDay

Today is National Poetry Day and so I want to share with you a short selection of my favourite poems.

The Lightest Touch captures for me the essence of poetry in a very beautiful way. The next two – Loaves and Fishes, and All the True Vows – are by David Whyte, a fabulous writer I discovered a few years ago. Whyte often writes about work and work-related stress and holding onto meaning and connection with life outside of work in an age where we are bombarded with technology.

You’ll then find a couple of quotes I love, and one last poem – The Place Where We Are Right – which serves as a warning about wanting to be ‘right’. I find it very humbling.

Enjoy.

The Lightest Touch

Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then like a hand in the dark
it arrests the whole body,
steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows
a great line
you can feel Lazarus
deep inside
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

– David Whyte, from Everything is Waiting for You

Loaves and Fishes

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

– David Whyte, from The House of Belonging

All the True Vows

All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.

Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.

Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made
nor the work they have chosen

nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.

By the lake in the wood
in the shadows
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,
it wants you to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.

Remember,
in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you’ll find
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

– David Whyte

  • ‘Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.’ – Macbeth
  • ‘for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’ – Hamlet

The Place Where We Are Right

From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.

The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.

But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.

– Yehuda Amichai

Comments

  • Kyla

    Thanks for sharing these thought provoking poems, Tina. I thought I would share one that had a real impact on me. It hints at the possibility of change and the power that taking personal responsibility for our happiness gives us….

    The Hole

    One
    I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I fall in.
    I am lost … I am helpless…
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find a way out.
    Two
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I am in this same place.
    But it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.

    Three
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I still fall in… it’s a habit…
    But my eyes are open.
    I see it is there.
    I know where I am.
    It is my fault.
    I get out immediately.

    Four
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.

    Five
    I walk down a different street.

    ******
    Author Unknown.

    • Keith Lynch

      Thanks, Kyla.

      I think developing one’s level of self-awareness is key to making positive changes. I love how your poem helps the reader understand the significance of being able to distinguish what we can’t control – the deep hole in the sidewalk – from what we can – which street/sidewalk we chose to walk down. Thankfully we can all practice becoming more self-aware.

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