Poems When It’s Still Dark Before the Dawn
It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.
– William Carlos Williams
Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes indeed.
– Mary Oliver
Kim Rosen tells the story of discovering poetry as medicine in her book Saved by a Poem. In the midst of coping with family illness and a depressing inner emptiness, she found an unmarked cassette tape someone had accidentally dropped behind the radiator in her office. She began to listen to it while doing the dishes and heard David Whyte’s deeply melodious voice: “To find the great silence/asking so little/one word/ one word only.” Something in the tone, the voice, the words, the rhythm, pierced her numbness, touched her inner soul, cracked her open to the depths of meaning and aliveness again. Poems save lives.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve posted poetry 30 times in these Resources for Recovering Resilience….
Poetry reminds us of the deepest truths of life when we have forgotten our way, evokes loss and possibility simultaneously, and links us inextricably with every other human being that has ever lived, loved and ached. Poetry allows us to perceive our troubled world and respond with care.
– Eve Ensler
A friend sent me the poem The Minor Chord last week, inspired by Anita Barrows, nestling well here between David Whyte’s Sweet Darkness and The Well of Grief. May they remind you of the deepest truths of life and inspire you embrace life fully while waiting for the dawn.
We come to poetry for moments of truth. We share it with others for moments of communion.
– Kim Rosen
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.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
Anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
Is too small for you.
– David Whyte
The House of Belonging
The Minor Chord – with thanks to anita barrows
memory and history
hang heavy on my shoulders
like two baskets full of stones
at the ends of a carrying pole
but this time
as their weight forces me down
toward the earth
on my knees
i press my ear to the ground
and i hear a minor chord
with me all these years
so i begin to sing
at first tentative
and as i relax into harmony
i feel a distance erased within me
and i face a truth
it is only through darkness
that i will fully
[from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous]
The Well of Grief
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief
turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.
– David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet