Monday, September 8, 2014

Poems that accompanied me throughout my hike

The Man Watching By Rainer Maria Rilke

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend,
I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers’ sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,

by constantly greater beings.

Fearing Paris by Marsha Truman Cooper
Suppose that what you fear
could be trapped
and held in Paris.

Then you would have
the courage to go
everywhere in the world.

All the directions of the compass
open to you,
except the degrees east or west
of true north
that lead to Paris.

Still, you wouldn't dare
put your toes
smack dab on the city limit line.
You're not really willing
to stand on a mountainside,
miles away,
and watch the Paris lights
come up at night.

Just to be on the safe side
you decide to stay completely
out of France.
But then the danger
seems too close
even to those boundaries,
and you feel
the timid part of you
covering the whole globe again.

You need the kind of friend
who learns your secret and says,
"See Paris First."

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep!”

 God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming through one of us, a passion, a longing pain.
Remember the lips where the wind breath originated, and let your note be clear.
Don’t try to end it.
Be your note.
I’ll show you when it’s enough.
Go up on the roof at night, in this city of the soul.
Let everyone climb on their roofs and sing their notes!
Sing loud!” Rumi


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

~ David Wagoner ~

Martha Postlewaite
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.


Don't surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,

My need of God

Wild Geese
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 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.
— Mary Oliver
The Journey
Above the mountains
 the geese turn into
the light again
painting their
 black silhouettes
on an open sky.
Sometimes everything
 has to be
enscribed across
the heavens
so you can find
 the one lie
  already written
   inside you.
Sometimes it takes
 a great sky
to find that
small, bright
 and indescribable
  wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
Sometimes with
 the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out
someone has written
 something new
in the ashes
of your life.
You are not leaving
 you are arriving.
— David Whyte, in The House of Belonging
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now.
— David Whyte, in Where Many Rivers Meet
Sweet Darkness
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure 
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
— David Whyte, in The House of Belonging
What I Must Tell Myself (excerpt)
When you are alone
you must do anything
to believe
and when you are
you must speak
with everything
you know
and everything you are
in order
to belong.
— David Whyte, in The House of Belonging
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear 
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance
to live
so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came
to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
— Dawna Markova

Kissed by the promise of a clear night
The moon rays weave through the trees
Flowing, unbroken, painting a fabric of magic on the moss tapestry

Solid granite rock of ages underfoot
Stones thrust against the sky of unbelievable full and rich blue
Ever changing like the mist swirling up one moment and returning as dew drops the next
Endless possibilities of light and color

Sounds so quiet and so muted and yet, so piercing and clear in the air
Knowing that all is there as it should be and has been and will be
Stewarts, visitors, care takers, honored nesters, held, embraced, caressed, enfolded, resting, being

by Christiane

Either you will
 go through this door
 or you will not go through.

 If you go through
 there is always the risk
 of remembering your name.

 Things look at you doubly
 and you must look back
 and let them happen.

 If you do not go through
 it is possible
 to live worthily

 to maintain your attitudes
 to hold your position
 to die bravely

 but much will blind you,
 much will evade you,
 at what cost who knows?

 The door itself
 makes no promises.
 It is only a door

 Adrienne Rich (1962)

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