A Blessing / from A River Runs Through It / from A Sand County Almanac / from Anna Karenina / from Birches / from Black / Black Muddy River / Blessed Are They That Sow / The Cows at Night / Daisy Time / from Desert Solitaire / Fields of Gold / Happy the Man / He Giveth More Grace / High Hopes / Irish Angel / Irish Blessings / from Isaiah / The Lake Isle of Innisfree / The Moon is a Harsh Mistress / from Nature / from Nightsong / Ode on Solitude / Out in the Fields with God / The Peace of Wild Things / Perseverance / Psalm 139:1-18 / Requiem / Running Away Together / from Song of Myself / The Song of Wandering Aengus / from Sonnets to Helen / There Are Poems / from Thoughts in Solitude / Waiting / The Waking / from Walden / When Geometric Diagrams / Why Should I Cry For You / Winter Night / The Wish to Be Generous / World Falls

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

- J. Wright (1963)

from A River Runs Through It

In our family, there was no clear line between
religion and fly fishing...
  On the Big Blackfoot River above the mouth of
Belmont Creek the banks are fringed by large
Ponderosa pines. In the slanting sun of late afternoon
the shadows of great branches reached from across
the river, and the trees took the river in their arms.
The shadows continued up the bank, until they included us.
  A river, though, has so many things to say that it is
hard to know what it says to each of us...
  Of course, now I am too old to be much of a
fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big
waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn't.
Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where
the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often
do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then
in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence
fades to a being with my soul and memories and the
sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count
rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
  Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river
runs through it. The river was cut by the world's
great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of
time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.
Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words
are theirs.
  I am haunted by waters.

- N. Maclean (1976)


from A Sand County Almanac


Within a few weeks now, Draba, the smallest flower that blows, will sprinkle every
sandy place with small blooms.
  He who hopes for spring with upturned eye never sees so small a thing as Draba.
He who despairs of spring with downcast eye steps on it, unknowing. He who searches
for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance.
  Draba asks, and gets, but scant allowance of warmth and comfort; it subsists on
the leavings of unwanted time and space. Botany books give it two or three lines, but
never a plate or portrait. Sand too poor and sun too weak for bigger, better blooms are
good enough for Draba. After all it is no spring flower, but only a postscript to a hope.
  Draba plucks no heartstrings. Its perfume, if there is any, is lost in the gusty winds.
Its color is plain white. Its leaves wear a sensible woolly coat. Nothing eats it; it is too
small. No poets sing of it. Some botanist once gave it a Latin name, and then forgot it.
Altogether it is of no importance - just a small creature that does a small job quickly
and well.

- A. Leopold (1949)


from Anna Karenina

In the evening Konstantin Levin went to the office,
gave orders about the work, and sent to the villages to
summon mowers for tomorrow to mow the
Vibernum Meadow, the biggest and best...
  The next morning [he] got up earlier than usual...
From the top of the hill there opened out before him,
at its foot, the shady, already mowed part of the
meadow, with greying rows and black heaps of
caftans, which the mowers had taken off where they
started their first swath...
  He glanced at the sky while his scythe was being
whetted. A low, heavy cloud had come over it, and
big drops of rain were falling. Some muzhiks went
for their caftans and put them on; others, just like
Levin, merely shrugged their shoulders joyfully
under the present freshness.
  They finished another swath and another. They
went through long swaths, short swaths, with bad
grass, with good grass. Levin lost all awareness of
time and had no idea whether it was late or early...
  The sweat that drenched him cooled him off, and
the sun, burning on his back, head, and arm with its
sleeve rolled to the elbow, gave him firmness and
perseverance in his work; more and more often those
moments of unconsciousness came, when it was
possible for him not to think of what he was doing.
The scythe cut by itself...
  ...after that came a blissfully slow walk...during
which he could...fill his lungs with air, look at the
whole stretched-out line of mowers and at what was
going on around him in the woods and fields...Levin
did not notice how the time passed. If he had been
asked how long he had been mowing, he would have
said half an hour - yet it was nearly dinner-time...
  Levin looked around him and did not recognize the
place, everything was so changed. An enormous
expanse of the meadow had been mowed, and its
already fragrant swaths shone with a special new
shine in the slanting rays of the evening sun. The
mowed-around bushes by the river, the river itself,
invisible before but now shining like steel in its
curves, the peasants stirring and getting up, the steep
wall of grass at the unmowed side of the meadow, and
the hawks wheeling above the bare meadow - all
the was completely new...
  The sun was already low over the trees when,
with whetstone boxes clanking, they entered the
wooded gully of Mashka's Knoll. The grass was
waist-high in the middle of the hollow, tender and
soft, broad-bladed, speckled with cow-wheat here and
there under the trees...
  The sun sank behind the wood. The dew was
already falling, and only those mowing on the hill
were in the sun, while below, where mist was rising,
and on the other side, they walked in the fresh, dewy
shade. The work was in full swing.
  Sliced down with a succulent sound and smelling
of spice, the grass lay in high swaths. Crowding on all
sides in the short swaths, their whetstone boxes
clanking, to the noise of the scythes clashing, of a
whetstone swishing along a sharpening blade, and of
merry shouts, the mowers urged each other on.

- L. Tolstoy (1877)


from Birches

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that...

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves;
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun...

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open...

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

- R. Frost (1916)


from Black

Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me as her body once did.
All five horizons revolved around her soul
As the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn...

I take a walk outside
I'm surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
I'm spinning, oh, I'm spinning
How quick the sun can drop away...

I know someday you'll have a beautiful life
I know you'll be a sun in somebody else's sky
But why, why can't it be mine

- E. Vedder (1991)


Black Muddy River

When the last rose of summer pricks my finger
And the hot sun chills me to the bone
When I can't hear the song for the singer
And I can't tell my pillow from a stone

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

When the last bolt of sunshine hits the mountain
And the stars start to splatter across the sky
When the moon splits the southwest horizon
With the scream of an eagle on the fly

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And listen to the ripples as they moan
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

When it seems like the night will last forever
And there's nothing left to do but count the years
When the strings of my heart start to sever
And stones fall from my eyes instead of tears

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And dream me a dream of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own.

- R. Hunter & J. Garcia (1986)


Blessed Are They That Sow

Blessed are they that sow and shall not reap
For they wander far.

Blessed are they that freely give all that they have,
The glory of their youth has made the sunlight richer
And they threw away their medals at the crossroads.

Blessed are they whose pride brims over their banks
And becomes white and humble
When the rainbow raises its arch in the clouds.

Blessed are they that know their hearts cry out in
     the wilderness,
Silence flowers on their lips.

Blessed, blessed are they, they shall be gathered
     to the heart of the world,
Warm in the coat of forgetfulness,
Eternal silence their offering
And their reward.

- A.B. Yitzhak (1928)


The Cows at Night

The moon was full like a cup tonight,
too heavy, and sank in the mist
soon after dark, leaving for light

faint stars and the silver leaves
of milkweed beside the road,
gleaming before my car.

Yet I like driving at night
in summer and in Vermont:
the brown road through the mist

of mountain-dark, among farms
so quiet, and the roadside willows
opening out where I saw

the cows. Always a shock
to remember them there, those
great breathings close in the dark.

I stopped, and took my flashlight
to the pasture fence. They turned
to me where they lay, sad

and beautiful faces in the dark,
and I counted them - forty
near and far in the pasture,

turning to me, sad and beautiful
like girls very long ago
who were innocent, and sad

because they were innocent,
and beautiful because they were
sad. I switched off my light.

But I did not want to go,
not yet, nor knew what to do
if I should stay, for how

in that great darkness could I explain
anything, anything at all.
I stood by the fence. And then

very gently it began to rain.

- H. Carruth (2006)


Daisy Time

See, the grass is full of stars,
Fallen in their brightness,
Hearts they have of shining gold,
Rays of shining whiteness.

Buttercups have honeyed hearts,
Bees they love the clover,
But I love the daisies' dance
All the meadow over.

Blow, O blow, you happy winds,
Singing summer's praises,
Up the field and down the field
A-dancing with the daisies.

- M. Pickthall (1908)


from Desert Solitaire

[After supper] I put on hat and coat and go outside
again, sit on the table, and watch the sky and the
desert dissolve slowly into mystery under the
chemistry of twilight...
  Now I am in the open again, out of the underworld.
From up here, Rainbow Bridge, a thousand feet below,
is only a curving ridge of sandstone of no undue
importance, a tiny object lost in the vastness and
intricacy of the canyon systems which radiate from
the base of Navajo Mountain...
  Off in the east an isolated storm is boiling over the
desert, a mass of lavender clouds bombarding the
earth with lightning and trailing curtains of rain.
The distance is so great that I cannot hear the thunder.
Between here and there and me and the mountains
it's the canyon wilderness, the hoodoo land of spire
and pillar and pinnacle where no man lives, and
where the river flows, unseen, through the blue-
black trenches in the rock...
  If a man's imagination were not so weak, so easily
tired, if his capacity for wonder not so limited, he
would abandon forever such fantasies of the supernal.
He would learn to perceive in water, leaves and
silence more than sufficient of the absolute and
marvelous, more than enough to console him for the
loss of the ancient dreams.

- E. Abbey (1968)


Fields of Gold

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in fields of gold

So she took her love for to gaze awhile
Upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold

Will you stay with me, will you be my love
Among the fields of barley
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in fields of gold

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth
Among the fields of gold

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold

- G. Sumner (1993)


Happy the Man

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
  He who can call today his own:
  He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

- Horace (1685)


He Giveth More Grace

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth his mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

- A.J. Flint (c. 1930)


High Hopes

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun

Along the Long Road and on down the Causeway
Do they still meet there by the Cut

There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before time took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
With friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forward but sleep walking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide

At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed up world

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder

With friends surrounded

The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river

Forever and ever.

- D. Gilmour (1994)


Irish Angel

In the fall of the year

She flew across the ocean

To Ireland, the land of her fathers

When we said goodbye, a tear was in her eye

I lost her then and there, my Irish angel

The first letter came, she said she loved it there

And how much she wished I was there with her

She wrote it on a hill, in a gentle Irish rain

I saw her in my mind, my Irish angel

I wrote her back and then

There was no second letter

Just the silence of the snow that fell around me

I let her down, I know

The day I let her go

Now she's found someone else, my Irish angel

The first time I saw her, my heart went in a spin

When they speak of love they call it falling

It was like I held my breath ‘til I laid eyes on her again

So beautiful, she was my Irish angel

And when a stolen glance, led to a stolen kiss

I thought I knew the chance that I was taking

I know I never knew a love as strong as this

Or what it was to feel my own heart breaking

So now I raise a glass and then I raise another

One to forget, one to remember

And one just to dream of how things could have been

If I hadn't lost my Irish angel

- B. McCabe (199?)


Irish Blessings

I'm looking over a four-leaf clover
That I overlooked before
One leaf is sunshine, the second is rain,
Third is the roses that grow in the lane.
No need explaining the one remaining
Is somebody I adore.
I'm looking over a four-leaf clover
That I overlooked before.


Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there...I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow...
I am the diamond glints on snow...
I am the sunlight on ripened grain...
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of gentle birds in circling flight...
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry -
I am not there...I did not die...


May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.


from Isaiah

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
(Chapter 40, verse 26)

You will go out in joy 
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills 
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
(Chapter 55, verse 12)


The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

- W.B. Yeats (1890)


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

See her as she flies
Golden sails across the sky
Close enough to touch
But careful if you try
Though she looks as warm as gold
The moon's a harsh mistress
The moon can be so cold

Once the sun did shine
And lord it felt so fine
The moon a phantom rose
Through the mountains and the pine
And then the darkness fell
The moon's a harsh mistress
It's hard to love her well

I fell out of her eyes
I fell out of her heart
I fell down on my face, yes I did
And I tripped and I missed my star
And I fell and fell alone
The moon's a harsh mistress
The sky is made of stone

The moon's a harsh mistress
She's hard to call your own

- J. Webb (1982)


from Nature

In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue.
Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight,
under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts
any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a
perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In
the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his
slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a
child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these
plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a
perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how
he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the
woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that
nothing can befall me in life, - no disgrace, no calamity,
(leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair.
Standing on the bare ground, - my head bathed by the
blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, - all mean
egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am
nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being
circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The
name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and
accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, - master
or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the
lover of uncontained  and immortal beauty. In the
wilderness, I find something more dear and connate
than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and
especially in the distant line of the horizon, man
beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.

- R.W. Emerson (1836)


from Nightsong

These are my countries, my forests
And fields full of fires
In the peacock's gold eye
A world and an occasion - love
In my crazy house on stilts
And my latitude of gold inhabited
By a race of dancers
Whose slightest posturing
Is itself both end and beginning
As, from the end of innocence
They contrive an eloquence
Ambiguous as leaves
Wind rising, in the fire -
Trees the firefly's sermon:
This night, the End of Desire
Your love will be like a stone

- Thamnaret (c.1940)


Ode on Solitude

Happy the man, whose wish and care
  A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
          In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
  Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
          In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
  Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
          Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
  Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please
          With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
  Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
          Tell where I lie.

- A. Pope (c.1700)


Out in the Fields with God

The little cares which fretted me
I lost them yesterday,
Among the fields, above the sea,
Among the winds at play,
Among the lowing of the herds,
The rustling of the trees,
Among the singing of the birds,
The humming of the bees.
The foolish fear of what might happen,
I cast them all away
Among the clover-scented grass,
Among the new-mown hay,
Among the husking of the corn,
Where drowsy poppies nod
Where ill thoughts die and good are born -
Out in the fields with God.

- Anonymous


The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

- W. Berry (1985)



I shall look at the grass
Till I obtain the degree
Of Doctor of Grass.

I shall look at the clouds
Till I become a Master
Of Clouds.

I shall walk beside the smoke
Till out of shame
The smoke returns to the flame
Of its beginning.

I shall walk beside all things
Till all things
Come to know me.

- M. Sorescu (196_)


Psalm 139:1-18

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know
everything about me. You know when
I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts
even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and

when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say even before I
say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too
great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get
away from your presence! If I go up to heaven,

you are there; if I go down to the grave,
you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I
dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will
guide me, and your strength will support me.

I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light
around me to become night but even in darkness I cannot hide
from you. To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit
me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making
me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is
marvelous - how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I
was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before
I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered, I can't even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up,
you are still with me.

(New Living Translation)



Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
   And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
   And the hunter home from the hill.

- R.L. Stevenson (1879)


Running Away Together

It will be an island on strings
well out to sea and austere
bobbing as if at anchor
green with enormous fir trees
formal as telephone poles.

We will arrive there slowly
hand over hand without oars.
Last out, you will snip the fragile
umbilicus white as a beansprout
that sewed us into our diaries.

We will be two bleached hermits
at home in our patches and tears.
We will butter the sun with our wisdom.
Our days will be grapes on a trellis
perfectly oval and furred.

At night we will set our poems
adrift in ginger ale bottles
each with a clamshell rudder
each with a piggyback spider
waving them off by dogstar

and nothing will come from the mainland
to tell us who cares, who cares
and nothing will come of our lovelock
except as our two hearts go soft
and black as avocado pears.

- M. Kumin (1975)


from Song of Myself

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the
     shadow'd wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

- W. Whitman (1855)


The Song of the Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till times and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

- W.B. Yeats (1899)


from Sonnets to Helen

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But that one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

- P. de Ronsard (c. 1550) translated by W.C. Bryant


There Are Poems

There are poems
that are never written,
that simply move across
the mind
like skywriting
on a still day:
slowly the first word
drifts west,
the last letters dissolve
on the tongue,
and what is left
is the pure blue
of insight, without cloud
or comfort.

- L. Pastan (1999)


from Thoughts in Solitude

A man knows when he has found his vocation
when he stops thinking about how to live and begins
to live.

Thus, if one is called to be a solitary, he will
stop wondering how he is
to live

and start living peacefully only when he is in solitude.
But if one is not called to a solitary life, the more
he is alone the more he will worry about living and forget
to live.

When we are not living up to our true vocation,
thought deadens our life, or substitutes
itself for life, or gives in

to life

so that our life drowns out our thinking and
stifles the voice of

When we find our vocation - thought and life are one.

Suppose one has found completeness in his true vocation.
Now everything is in unity, in order, at peace. Now work
no longer interferes with prayer or prayer with work.

Now contemplation no longer needs to be a special "state" that
removes one from the ordinary things going on around him
for God penetrates all. One does not have to think of giving
an account of oneself to anyone

but Him.

- T. Merton (1956)



Left off the highway and
down the hill. At the
bottom, hang another left.
Keep bearing left. The road
will make a Y. Left again.
There's a creek on the left.
Keep going. Just before
the road ends, there'll be
another road. Take it
and no other. Otherwise,
your life will be ruined
forever. There's a log house
with a shake roof, on the left.
It's not that house. It's
the next house, just over
a rise. The house
where trees are laden with
fruit. Where phlox, forsythia,
and marigold grow. It's
the house where the woman
stands in the doorway
wearing the sun in her hair. The one
who's been waiting
all this time.
The woman who loves you.
The one who can say,
"What's kept you?"

- R. Carver (1987)


The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Green Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

- T. Roethke (1953)


from Walden

I went to the woods because I wished to live

to front only the essential
facts of life, and see if I could not learn
what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived.

I did not wish to live what was not life,
living is so dear; nor did I wish
to practise resignation, unless it was
quite necessary.

I wanted to live deep and
suck out all the marrow of life, to live so
sturdily and Spartan-like as to put
to rout all that was not life,
to cut a broad swath and shave close,

to drive life into a corner, and reduce it
to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean,
why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it,
and publish its meanness to the world;

or if it were sublime, to know it by experience,
and be able to give a true account of it in
my next excursion.

- H.D. Thoreau (1854)


When Geometric Diagrams

When geometric diagrams and digits
Are no longer the keys to living things,
When people who go about singing or kissing
Know deeper things than the great scholars,
When society is returned once more
To unimprisoned life, and to the universe,
And when light and darkness mate
Once more and make something entirely transparent,
And people see in poems and fairy tales
The true history of the world,
Then our entire twisted nature will turn
And run when a single secret word is spoken.

- Novalis (c. 1800)


Why Should I Cry For You

Under the dog star sail
Over the reefs of moonshine
Under the skies of fall
North, north west, the stones of Faroe

Under the Arctic fire
Over the seas of silence
Hauling on frozen ropes
For all my days remaining
But would north be true?

All colours bleed to red
Asleep on the ocean's bed
Drifting on empty seas
For all my days remaining

But would north be true?
Why should I cry for you

Dark angels follow me
Over a godless sea
Mountains of endless falling,
For all my days remaining
What would be true?

Sometimes I see your face,
The stars seem to lose their place
Why must I think of you
Why should I cry for you
Why would you want me to
And what would it mean to say,
That, "I have loved you in my fashion"

What would be true?
Why should I cry for you

- G. Sumner (1991)


Winter Night

The hills lie
White on the sky
Moon cold and still.
And I
Spraying frost
From the bound, gagged grass
Listen for life.

But sound is lost
Fastened to ice.
Stars move
In themselves
In the sky
Throwing sparks
To fire smothered snow
Blazing below
While I
Ringing night
From the close barred earth
Search for keys
Listen for life.

- A. Murray (2002)


The Wish to Be Generous

All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man's evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.

- W. Berry (1987)


World Falls

I'm coming home with a stone, strapped onto my back.
I'm coming home with a burning hope turning all my blues to black.
I'm looking for a sacred hand to carve into my stone.
A ghost of comfort, angels breath - to keep this life inside my chest.

This world falls on me with hopes of immortality.
Everywhere I turn all the beauty just keeps shaking me.

I woke up in the middle of a dream, scared the world was too much for me.
Sejarez said, "don't let go, just plant the seeds and watch them grow."
I've slept in rainy canyon lands, cold drenched to my skin.
I always wake to find a face to calm these troubled lands.

This world falls on me with dreams of immortality.
Everywhere I turn all the beauty just keeps shaking me.

Running - end - earth - swimming - edge - sea - laughing - under - starry sky
This world was meant for me.
Don't bury me, carry me.

I wish I was a nomad, an Indian, or a saint.
The edge of death would disappear, leave me nothing left to taint.
I wish I was a nomad, an Indian, or a saint.
Give me walking shoes, feathered arms, and a key to heaven's gate.

This world falls on me with dreams of immortality.

- A. Ray (1990)

creativity creativity creativity creativity creativity