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Posts from the ‘Poetry’ Category

To Labor and Wait

In the labor and the waiting, may you find joy throughout.
Alive in the living present.
Awake in this very moment.

Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“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 destined 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 living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked 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.”

In the Pause

“Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars. Gaze at the beauty of the Earth’s greenings. Now, think.” – Hildegard of Bingen

“Rather than going for the high moment of drama, the high moment of the erotic, the high moment of the extraordinary, poetry will choose the small moment of pause just to look at what’s really happening, to look at a few layers deep and to let that small pause, that ordinary moment, open up with all the fullness of its being to us.” – Pádraig Ó Tuama

A pause
A glance
A moment
Embrace
Be held
Poetry in the ordinary

The Work

“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.” – Rosa Parks

May we never cease striving for freedom for self and others.
In thought, word, action.
Connected. Generous. Kind.
Peace. Love. Light.
The work of a lifetime.

Keep A-Pluggin’ Away
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

“I’ve a humble little motto
That is homely, though it’s true,—
Keep a-pluggin’ away.
It’s a thing when I’ve an object
That I always try to do,—
Keep a-pluggin’ away.
When you’ve rising storms to quell,
When opposing waters swell,
It will never fail to tell,—
Keep a-pluggin’ away.

If the hills are high before
And the paths are hard to climb,
Keep a-pluggin’ away.
And remember that successes
Come to him who bides his time,—
Keep a-pluggin’ away.
From the greatest to the least,
None are from the rule released.
Be thou toiler, poet, priest,
Keep a-pluggin’ away.

Delve away beneath the surface,
There is treasure farther down,—
Keep a-pluggin’ away.
Let the rain come down in torrents,
Let the threat’ning heavens frown,
Keep a-pluggin’ away.
When the clouds have rolled away,
There will come a brighter day
All your labor to repay,—
Keep a-pluggin’ away.

There ‘ll be lots of sneers to swallow.
There’ll be lots of pain to bear,—
Keep a-pluggin’ away.
If you’ve got your eye on heaven,
Some bright day you’ll wake up there,
Keep a-pluggin’ away.
Perseverance still is king;
Time its sure reward will bring;
Work and wait unwearying,—
Keep a-pluggin’ away.”

Illumination

“Beauty is the illumination of your soul.” – John O’Donohue

Wherever you are, wherever you wander today, may beauty be your companion, light your friend, joy your spirit.

On Beauty
by Kahlil Gibran

“And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.
And he answered:
Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall your find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, “Beauty is kind and gentle.
Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us.”
And the passionate say, “Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.
Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.”

The tired and the weary say, “Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.”
But the restless say, “We have heard her shouting among the mountains,
And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.”

At night the watchmen of the city say, “Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east.”
And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say, “We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset.”

In winter say the snow-bound, “She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.”
And in the summer heat the reapers say, “We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.”
All these things have you said of beauty,
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not in the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.”

Sky Song

“Even
After
All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.”
― Hafiz

A canvas
A possibility
An opening
An invitation

To bigness
To expanse
To dance
To delight

Composition
Rhythm
The poetry of a summer’s day coming to a close.
Lighting up more than the sky.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Sonnet 18)
by William Shakespeare

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

Lingering Gaze

“When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy, And the dimpling stream runs laughing by; When the air does laugh with our merry wit, And the green hill laughs with the noise of it.” – William Blake

“In a world myriad as ours, the gaze is a singular act: to look at something is to fill your whole life with it, if only briefly.”― Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

May you be overwhelmed and embraced with the fullness of today.
Lingering in the summer sun.
Slowing to see bounty and abundance in reach.
A singular act.
The drains of heaven.
At our feet.
Walk softly on this holy sacred ground.
Lighter.
With ease, gratitude and in amazement.

“Stars. Or rather, the drains of heaven – waiting. Little holes. Little centuries opening just enough for us to slip through.”― Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds

Sway

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?” – E. M. Forster

Winds surge.
Storms to come.
Trees sway.
Moving with, not against.
The flow.
Bending rather than breaking.
Stretching, dancing, accepting.

The Wind
by Robert Louis Stevenson

“I saw you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies’ skirts across the grass–
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!

I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all–
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!

O you that are so strong and cold,
O blower, are you young or old?
Are you a beast of field and tree,
Or just a stronger child than me?
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!”

Greet It All

“Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Neither I nor the poets I love have found the keys to the kingdom of prayer and we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit. But I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway. So every morning, I sit — I kneel, waiting, making friends with the habit of listening, hoping that I’m being listened to. There, I greet God in my own disorder. I say hello to my chaos, my unmade decisions, my unmade bed, my desire and my trouble. I say hello to distraction and privilege, I greet the day and I greet my beloved and bewildering Jesus. I recognize and greet my burdens, my luck, my controlled and uncontrollable story. I greet my untold stories, my unfolding story, my unloved body, my own body. I greet the things I think will happen and I say hello to everything I do not know about the day. I greet my own small world and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day. I greet my story and hope that I can forget my story during the day, and hope that I can hear some stories, and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead. I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet.

Hello to you all, I say, as the sun rises above
the chimneys of North Belfast. Hello.”
– Pádraig Ó Tuama, In the Shelter

Life, in all of its messiness, beauty, contradictions, joy, struggle;
In ordinary days, in rain, in sun;
In celebration, in milestones, in transitions;
May we see our blessings amidst our burdens;
May our thoughts, words and actions lift and shine light more often than not;
May we greet it all and be held in prayer as it all unfolds;
Greet it all.
Hello.

Like a Jewel

“Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us we find poems.”― Naomi Shihab Nye, Red Suitcase

We don’t realize the weight that we carry until we lay it down and walk a few steps without it.
Whatever is heavy on your mind, in your heart, on your shoulders, put it down for a bit.
We are more than what we do, what others think, what we think, the past or the future.
Spirit and soul.
Current and waves.
Wind and stillness.
Embedded in the doing, in the striving, in the chasing, enough, whole and imperfect beauty and light lingers, resides, invites.
Go there, sit awhile, warmed by the glistening beams.

“The person you have known a long time is embedded in you like a jewel. The person you have just met casts out a few glistening beams & you are fascinated to see more of them. How many more are there? With someone you’ve barely met the curiosity is intoxicating.”― Naomi Shihab Nye

Infuse

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver

“Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.” – Mary Oliver

Beauty abound.
Infuse yourself with nature, fresh air, poetry.
Be made new, spark your imagination, write your story.
Gaze at the sky, allow awe in, be made new.
A blessing that you be awake, aware and paying attention to each moment.

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”

A rare interview with the late Mary Oliver was re-released again from On Being with Krista Tippett – a treat to savor and enjoy.

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