Evening Poetry, March 30

Nest

by John O’Donohue

for J.

I awaken

To find your head

Loaded with sleep,

Branching my chest.

Feel the streams

Of your breathing

Dream through my heart.

From the new day,

Light glimpses

The nape of your neck.

Tender is the weight

Of your sleeping thought

And all the worlds

That will come back

When you raise your head

And look.

You can find this poem in Conamara Blues.

Evening Poetry, March 25

(From the first section in the first series entitled Life.)

VI.

by Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life in aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

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

Evening Poetry, March 24

Prayer For This House

by Louis Untermeyer

May nothing evil cross this door,

And may ill-fortune never pry

About these windows; may the roar

and rains go by.

Strengthened by faith, the rafters will

Withstand the battering of the storm.

This hearth, though all the world grow chill

Will keep you warm.

Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,

Touching your lips with holy wine,

Till every casual corner blooms

Into a shrine.

Laughter shall drown the raucous shout

And, though the sheltering walls are thin,

May they be strong to keep hate out

And hold love in.

You can find this in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, March 7

From The Essential Rumi

by Rumi

When I remember your love,

I weep, and when I hear people

talking of you,

something in my chest,

where nothing much happens now,

moves as in sleep.

You can find this poem in The Essential Rumi.

Evening Poetry, February 21

Awaking in New York

by Maya Angelou

Curtains forcing their will

against the wind,

children sleep,

exchanging dreams with

seraphim. The city

drags itself awake on

subway straps; and

I, an alarm, awake as a

rumor of war,

lie stretching into dawn,

unasked and unheeded.

You can find this poem in The Complete Poetry.

Evening Poetry, February 1

Winter Trees

by Paul Zimmer

for Jan Susina

To watch snow sift into woods is to

Feel yourself growing gently toward death,

Yet it is trees that teach us how to live.

In some places a person can exist

For many years without seeing a tree:

That must be the way of anger and despair.

Better to have the constant example

Of their patience and perfection,

To witness the blossoming and decay,

Watch snow resolve itself through branches,

Gathering softly at the nodes and shag.

Better to somehow join them and become

Part of the last stand in the world.

You can find this poem in Poems About Trees.

Evening Poetry, January 5

Of Time

by Mary Oliver

Don’t even ask how rapidly the hummingbird

lives his life.

You can’t imagine. A thousand flowers a day,

a little sleep, then the same again, then

he vanishes.

I adore him.

Yet I adore also the drowse of mountains.

And in the human world, what is time?

In my mind there is Rumi, dancing.

There is Li Po drinking from the winter stream.

There is Hafiz strolling through Shariz, his feet

loving the dust.

You can find this poem in Swan: Poems and Prose Poems.

Evening Poetry, January 2

Hold Fast Your Dreams

by Louise Driscoll

Hold fast your dreams!

Within your heart

Keep one still, secret spot

Where dreams may go,

And sheltered so,

May thrive and grow–

Where doubt and fear are not.

Oh, keep a place apart

Within your heart,

For little dreams to go.

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

Evening Poetry, December 19

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.

Evening Poetry, December 13

White-Eyes

by Mary Oliver

In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
             Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
    but he’s restless—
         he has an idea,
             and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake.
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
    In the pine-crown
         he makes his nest,
             he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
    I only imagine his glittering beak
         tucked in a white wing
             while the clouds—

which he has summoned
    from the north—
         which he has taught
             to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
    into the world below
         like stars, or the feathers
               of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
    that is asleep now, and silent—
         that has turned itself
             into snow.

Source: Poetry (Poetry Foundation, 2002)