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Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 3:37 pm
by runstrails
I find that poetry comes closest to expressing the inexpressible.
So feel free to add your favorite poets and poems to this link.
These days I'm really enjoying Mary Oliver's poems: Here is a link: ... ary_Oliver
Here are two lovely ones:

“The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
― Mary Oliver
“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,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 5:15 pm
by rachMiel
Sweet poems. I like her use of simple clear language to evoke matters of the heart/soul. One has the feeling of a gentle awake intelligence and spirit behind these.

Nice idea, runstrails, to share poems. :-)

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 5:17 pm
by rachMiel
One of my favorites:

The Wild Swans at Coole
BY William Butler Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 9:19 pm
by treasuretheday
Beautiful, Runstrails! Thank you. Mary Oliver is so great! The second poem you posted, Wild Geese, is a long-time favorite of mine.

RachMiel, very nice. I have looked upon those brilliant creatures, And now my heart is sore.


Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs-

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

We are not creatures of darkness only, hopelessly dark as that house that is silent, and yet we are not angels, either, unswervingly given to the eternal . Where do we belong, exactly? As humans, we must face this ambiguous realm, while the trees and the animals seem so sure of where they belong. One moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star. We all know the stone, we all know the star. To embrace both at once, to be present to a third possiblity, is perhaps what it means to be fully human.

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Sun May 12, 2013 9:43 pm
by randomguy
Poetry good stuff. Here's a dose of the eastern zen variety.

Matsuo Bashō

Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggests they
are about to die

Bankei (from "Song of Original Mind")

Unborn and imperishable
Is the original mind
Earth, water, fire and wind
A temporary lodging for the night

Attached to this
Ephemeral burning house
You yourselves light the fire, kindle the flames
In which you’re consumed

Ikkyu (from "Skeletons")

I liked this skeleton . . . . He saw things clearly, just as they are. I lay there with the wind in the pines whispering in my ears and the autumn moonlight dancing across my face.

What is not a dream? Who will not end up as a skeleton? We appear as skeletons covered with skin -- male and female -- and lust after each other. When the breath expires, though, the skin ruptures, sex disappears, and there is no more high or low. Underneath the skin of the person we fondle and caress right now is nothing more than a set of bare bones. Think about it -- high and low, young and old, male and female, all are the same. Awaken to this one great matter and you will immediately comprehend the meaning of "unborn and undying."

If chunks of rock
Can serve as a memento
To the dead,
A better headstone
Would be a simple tea-mortar.

Humans are indeed frightful beings.
A single moon
Bright and clear
In an unclouded sky;
Yet still we stumble
In the world’s darkness.

Have a good look -- stop the breath, peel off the skin, and everybody ends up looking the same. No matter how long you live the result is not altered[even for emperors]. Cast off the notion that "I exist." Entrust yourself to the wind-blown clouds, and do not wish to live for ever.

This world
Is but
A fleeting dream
So why by alarmed
At its evanescence?

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Mon May 13, 2013 3:12 pm
by treasuretheday
Gorgeous, Randomguy!

For the Sake of Strangers
By Dorianne Laux

No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.
And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waiting patiently for my empty body to pass through.
All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another—a stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms, a retarded child
who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.
Somehow they always find me, seem even
to be waiting, determined to keep me
from myself, from the thing that calls to me
as it must have once called to them—
this temptation to step off the edge
and fall weightless, away from the world.

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Sun May 26, 2013 12:08 pm
by treasuretheday
There is life without love, but it's not worth a penny...not even a bent one!
Try reading this poem out loud. Another gem from Mary Oliver:

West Wind #2

You are young. So you know everything. You leap
into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to
me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent
penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a
dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the
sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable
pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls
plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life
toward it.

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Sun May 26, 2013 5:36 pm
by randomguy
I like that one. Thanks treasure.

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:37 am
by treasuretheday
Randomguy, thank you for commenting. Glad you liked it!

Here's one from Billy Collins. He was Poet Laureate of the United States, 2001-2003. I love his work. His poems are deceptively simple. This one really tickles me, like a beaded curtain brushing over my shoulders...

Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause To Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles
By Billy Collins

It seems these poets have nothing
up their ample sleeves
they turn over so many cards so early,
telling us before the first line
whether it is wet or dry,
night or day, the season the man is standing in,
even how much he has had to drink.

Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow.
Maybe it is snowing on a town with a beautiful name.

"Viewing Peonies at the Temple of Good Fortune
on a Cloudy Afternoon" is one of Sun Tung Po's.
"Dipping Water from the River and Simmering Tea"
is another one, or just
"On a Boat, Awake at Night."

And Lu Yu takes the simple rice cake with
"In a Boat on a Summer Evening
I Heard the Cry of a Waterbird.
It Was Very Sad and Seemed To Be Saying
My Woman Is Cruel—Moved, I Wrote This Poem."

There is no iron turnstile to push against here
as with headings like "Vortex on a String,"
"The Horn of Neurosis," or whatever.
No confusingly inscribed welcome mat to puzzle over.

Instead, "I Walk Out on a Summer Morning
to the Sound of Birds and a Waterfall"
is a beaded curtain brushing over my shoulders.

And "Ten Days of Spring Rain Have Kept Me Indoors"
is a servant who shows me into the room
where a poet with a thin beard
is sitting on a mat with a jug of wine
whispering something about clouds and cold wind,
about sickness and the loss of friends.

How easy he has made it for me to enter here,
to sit down in a corner,
cross my legs like his, and listen.

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:51 am
by merlin41
by runstrails » Sun May 12, 2013 1:37 pm

I find that poetry comes closest to expressing the inexpressible.
So feel free to add your favorite poets and poems to this link.
These days I'm really enjoying Mary Oliver's poems: Here is a link: ... ary_Oliver
Here are two lovely ones:
Thank you runstrails for reminding me of Mary Oliver, the two poems you quoted were my favourites in past times, and I had quite forgotten them, I have one of her collections somewhere I must look for it.


Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:10 pm
by Sistersamm
Submitted for your approval :


The poetry of the ages

cannot begin to speak

the myriad small wonders

that make a life complete.

The soul of man is centered

by the music from within--

spoken in a whisper

and borne upon the wind.

Given thus unto the world,

it cannot be refused--

for love unbound is timeless

and eternally renewed.

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:53 pm
by snowheight
In a quiet corner of the world with a long and funny name
On the longest day of the year
Are points of still perception, that I do still hold so dear

Most often they smile silently, but they are willing to share
While attentive and compassionate to say they have a care
... might not quite express what it is that they have to offer

wisdom? knowledge? experience? insight?
that yes, but most important of all
the courage and love to point away from all of that ... as well

the metaphor of net, it does seems to come to mind
to the hurting and disoriented
there are people who are kind

but for the ego showboats
strict guidlines are in place
peace of mind and quiet trump the value of the face!

to those who come with open heart, unburdened and free ear
there is no mistaking what is offered loud and clear
the search it will be over even ere that it began
the rocks that mind might cling to will be pounded down to sand
the gentle force of waves that break do echo out a sound
a voice that bids the spinner to return to solid ground
the winds of that sweet ocean they will always blow to lee
in beckoning the world to take one breath and simply be.

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:24 pm
by treasuretheday
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:28 pm
by Onceler
Nice! I love this poem, but haven't seen it in awhile. Good timing.....

Re: Poetry: The language of the Divine

Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:16 pm
by treasuretheday
Onceler, glad you enjoyed revisiting the poem!

From Saint Catherine of Siena:

I Won't Take No for an Answer

“I won’t take no for an answer,”
God began to say
to me.

When He opened His arms each night
wanting us to