trees, in general; oaks, especially;
burr oaks that survive fire, in particular;
and the generosity of apples
seeds, all of them: carrots like dust,
winged maple, doubled beet, peach kernel;
the inevitability of change
frogsong in spring; cattle
lowing on the farm across the hill;
the melodies of sad old songs
comfort of savory soup;
sweet iced fruit; the aroma of yeast;
a friend’s voice; hard work
seasons; bedrock; lilacs;
moonshadows under the ash grove;
something breaking through
– Patricia Monaghan, “Things to Believe In”
We learn to live without passion.
To be reasonable. We go hungry
amid the giant granaries
this world is. We store up plenty
for when we are old and mild.
It is our strength that deprives us.
Like Keats listening to the doctor
who said the best thing for
tuberculosis was to eat only one
slice of bread and a fragment
of fish each day. Keats starved
himself to death because he yearned
so desperately to feast on Fanny Brawne.
Emerson and his wife decided to make
love sparingly in order to accumulate
his passion. We are taught to be
moderate. To live intelligently.
Jack Gilbert, “The Danger of Wisdom”
There will always be voices that promise you greatness and glory:
They call out from the worldly marketplace;
They call out from the spiritual marketplace;
They call out from the fill-your-holes-marketplace;
They call out from the bigger-better-more marketplace.
Do not buy their false promises, or purchase their ephemeral wares;
What fulfills for a moment is not worth the price of your soul.
There are heights that will lift you, but not when you try to ascend them;
There are powers that will fill you, but not when you make them your own.
There are treasures, and there are imitations of treasures.
If you have lost your true gold, at least turn away from the glitter.
Want only what is true.
This will lead you to the well of your deepest sorrows.
Follow that passageway, all the way down;
Become the dark emptiness of your absent core.
Be still. Don’t measure the waiting.
Be still. Let the waiting become a fire.
Be still. Let the fire show you its secret heart:
A strand of clear light running through you.
Gather yourself there, and the luminous universe opens.
In that vast expanse, fathomless, infinite ocean of light,
Lose yourself, and find yourself, and become what you already are.
– Jennifer Welwood, “Renunciation”
Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.
Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.
To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.
Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.
– Jane Kenyon, “Let Evening Come”