Evening Poetry, August 18

You can find this in The Book of a Monastic Life in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

I,6

by Rainer Maria Rilke

You, God, who live next door–

If at times, through the long night, I trouble you

with my urgent knocking–

this is why: I hear you breathe so seldom.

I know you’re all alone in that room.

If you should be thirsty, there’s no one

to get you a glass of water.

I wait listening, always. Just give me a sign!

I’m right here.

As it happens, the wall between us

is very thin. Why couldn’t a cry

from one of us

break it down? It would crumble

easily.

it would barely make a sound.

Evening Poetry, August 15

II. Love: VII.

by Emily Dickinson

Wild nights! Wild nights!

Were I with thee,

Wild nights should be

Our luxury!

Futile the winds

To a heart in port,–

Done with the compass,

Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!

Ah! the sea!

Might I but moor

To-night in thee!

You can find this in the collection Hope is the Thing With Feathers.

Evening Poetry, August 14

(Happy Birthday to my daughter, Ella, who is 16 today!)

The Birthday Child

by Rose Fyleman

Everything’s been different

All the day long,

Lovely things have happened,

Nothing has gone wrong.

Nobody has scolded me,

Everyone has smiled,

Isn’t it delicious

To be a birthday child?

You can find this poem in the collection Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, August 13

For Work

by John O’ Donohue

May the light of your soul bless your work with love and warmth of heart.

May you see in what you do the beauty of your soul.

May the sacredness of your work bring light and renewal to those who work with you.
and to those who see and receive your work.

May your work never exhaust you.

May it release wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.

May you never become lost in bland absences. May the day never burden.

May dawn find hope in your heart, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.

May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.

May you go into the night blessed, sheltered, and protected.

May your soul calm, console, and renew you.

You can find this poem in the collection To Bless the Space Between Us.

Evening Poetry, August 12

Water

by Mary Oliver

What is the vitality and necessity

of clean water?

Ask the man who is ill, who is lifting

his lips to the cup.

Ask the forest.

You can find this poem in the collection Evidence.

Evening Poetry, August 11

The Work of Happiness

by May Sarton

I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.

For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life’s span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.

You can find this poem in Collected Poems 1930-1993.

Evening Poetry, August 9

Deep Summer

by Mary Oliver

The mockingbird

opens his throat

among the thorns

for his own reasons

but doesn’t mind

if we pause

to listen

and learn something

for ourselves;

he doesn’t stop,

he nods

his gray head

with the frightfully bright eyes,

he flirts

his supple tail,

he says:

listen, if you would listen.

There’s no end

to good talk,

to passion songs,

to the melodies

that say

this branch,

this tree is mine,

to the wholesome

happiness

of being alive

on a patch

of this green earth

in the deep

pleasure of summer.

What a bird!

Your clocks, he says plainly,

which are always ticking,

do not have to be listened to.

The spirit of his every word.

You can find this poem in the collection Evidence by Mary Oliver.