For The Unknown Self
by John O’ Donohue
So much of what delights and troubles you
Happens on a surface
You take for ground.
Your mind thinks your life alone,
Your eyes consider air your nearest neighbor,
Yet it seems that a little below your heart
There houses in you an unknown self
Who prefers the patterns of the dark
And is not persuaded by the eye’s affection
Or caught by the flash of thought.
It is a self that enjoys contemplative patience
With all your unfolding expression,
Is never drawn to break into light
Though you entangle yourself in unworthiness
And misjudge what you do and who you are.
It presides within like an evening freedom
That will often see you enchanted by twilight
Without ever recognizing the falling night,
It resembles the under-earth of your visible life:
All you do and say and think is fostered
Deep in its opaque and prevenient clay.
It dwells in a strange, yet rhythmic ease
That is not ruffled by disappointment;
It presides in a deeper current of time
Free from the force of cause and sequence
That otherwise shapes your life.
Were it to break forth into day,
Its dark light might quench your mind,
For it knows how your primeval heart
Sisters every cell of your life
To all your known mind would avoid,
Thus it knows to dwell in you gently,
Offering you only discrete glimpses
Of how you construct your life.
At times, it will lead you strangely,
Magnetized by some resonance
That ambushes your vigilance.
It works most resolutely at night
As the poet who draws your dreams,
Creating for you many secret doors,
Decorated with pictures of your hunger;
It has the dignity of the angelic
That knows you to your roots,
Always awaiting your deeper befriending
To take you beyond the threshold of want,
Where all your diverse strainings
Can come to wholesome ease.
You can find this poem in To Bless the Space Between Us.