Why, in the middle of your busy life, would you pause to read poetry?
Because good poetry points us to what truly matters, which is why I use poetry so much in my work. A good poem offers sanctuary, reminding us of the necessity, power and beauty of contemplation. In a world hell-bent on filling space with activity and silence with noise, this is a subversive act. So slow down, digest a poem, let it take you by the hand. Allow yourself be touched, even changed. Indeed, poetry has been know to save lives. Nuff said. Onward!
Image: Paul Cezanne, Still life, pitcher and fruit
I chose this poem by Rilke to celebrate National Poetry Month. What a stunning evocation of incomprehensible faith, and a deep homage to our beloved Earth.
All Will Come Again Into Its Strength
All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low.
And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.
And no churches
where God is imprisoned and lamented
like a trapped and wounded animal.
The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering in all relations,
and in you and me.
No yearning for an afterlife,
no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth,
lest we remain unused.
Rainer Maria Rilke, from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God,
translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.
For educational/therapeutic purposes only.
Image: Working the land, 1873, Paul Gauguin
Go Deeper: What does faith mean to you? In what do you place your deepest faith during both times of darkness and light?
Carefully consider what you are devoted to. If you persevere in what matters to you,
this tarot card says, your efforts will be worth it. The fruits of your labors will be realized.
The Influence Coming Into Play: The Seven of Pentacles
Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
the planting, after the long season of tending and growth,
the harvest comes.
Marge Piercy from Circles on the Water
(The Seven of Pentacles is a Tarot card.)
We humans, a struggling species, can use more prayers like this.
The Heart can show the way, though, if we let it.
This Morning I Pray for My Enemies
And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.
It sees and knows everything.
It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.
The door to the mind should only open from the heart.
An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.
Joy Harjo, from Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems
Copyrighted material; for educational/therapeutic purposes only.