Nov 21 2014

Han-shan (Cold Mountain) – This rare and heavenly creature

Published by under Poetry

This rare and heavenly creature
by Han-shan (Cold Mountain)

English version by Red Pine

This rare and heavenly creature
alone without peer
look and it’s not there
it comes and goes but not through doors
it fits inside a square-inch
it spreads in all directions
unless you acknowledge it
you’ll meet but never know

— from The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain, Translated by Red Pine


/ Image by mynameistran /

I really like this verse by the great Taoist/Buddhist poet and prankster Han Shan. It is almost a riddle, a challenge to figure out what this “rare and heavenly creature” is. But the only way to solve the riddle is not through the thought process, but through the awakening process…

It is “alone without peer.” It is One, whole, complete, and solitary without any “other.”

Look and it’s not there.

The normal act of looking requires an observer to be separate from the observed. Looking in that sense requires duality, fragmentation, and separation. In that separation, the One is lost and this “it” is not seen.

It fits inside a square-inch
it spreads in all directions.

This is an acknowledgment of the holistic nature of this deep reality. It is found in the heart, in every creature, every cell, every atom — in the tiniest of containers. Yet this “it” is everywhere, and it is not a different “it” anywhere else. It is both specific and, at the same time, all-inclusive.

Unless you acknowledge it
you’ll meet but never know.

This is my favorite line. When the awareness truly opens to this eternal reality, it is profoundly… familiar! There is the shocking realization that you have always known it and felt it. The quest isn’t to find or “meet” this “heavenly creature,” it is to finally recognize or “acknowledge” it — already present.


Recommended Books: Han-shan (Cold Mountain)

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain A Drifting Boat: Chinese Zen Poetry Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry
More Books >>


Han-shan (Cold Mountain), Han-shan (Cold Mountain) poetry, Buddhist poetry Han-shan (Cold Mountain)

China (730? – 850?) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan
Taoist

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5 responses so far

Nov 21 2014

action stillness

Action proceeds from stillness.

No responses yet

Nov 19 2014

Marie Howe – Annunciation

Published by under Poetry

Annunciation
by Marie Howe

Even if I don’t see it again — nor ever feel it
I know it is — and that if once it hailed me
it ever does–

and so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as toward a place, but it was a tilting
within myself,

as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn’t — I was blinded like that — and swam
in what shone at me

only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.

— from Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words, by Kim Rosen


/ Photo by Kaeldra-1 /

This is one of those poems that somehow carries deep healing within its lines. Don’t rush through this one. Pause for a moment, take a breath, and then read this poem slowly.

Even if I don’t see it again — nor ever feel it
I know it is — and that if once it hailed me
it ever does–

A flash of genuine insight. Perhaps it will return, or perhaps it is a fleeting glimpse. But once seen, it is known to be real. Once felt, we know we have been touched.

and so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as toward a place, but it was a tilting
within myself,

And we can spend a lifetime happily learning to lean more in that direction. Or you can say that we learn to swim in light…

…I was blinded like that — and swam
in what shone at me

Those closing lines — wow!

only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.


Recommended Books: Marie Howe

Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words What the Living Do: Poems The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems The Good Thief: Poems


Marie Howe, Marie Howe poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Marie Howe

US (1950 – )
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Marie Howe

2 responses so far

Nov 19 2014

the mystic’s awareness

The mystic’s awareness
does not sift reality,
it bathes in it.

No responses yet

Nov 14 2014

Thich Nhat Hanh – Looking for Each Other

Published by under Poetry

Looking for Each Other
by Thich Nhat Hanh

I have been looking for you, World Honored One,
since I was a little child.
With my first breath, I heard your call,
and began to look for you, Blessed One.
I’ve walked so many perilous paths,
confronted so many dangers,
endured despair, fear, hopes, and memories.
I’ve trekked to the farthest regions, immense and wild,
sailed the vast oceans,
traversed the highest summits, lost among the clouds.
I’ve lain dead, utterly alone,
on the sands of ancient deserts.
I’ve held in my heart so many tears of stone.

Blessed One, I’ve dreamed of drinking dewdrops
that sparkle with the light of far-off galaxies.
I’ve left footprints on celestial mountains
and screamed from the depths of Avici Hell, exhausted, crazed with despair
because I was so hungry, so thirsty.
For millions of lifetimes,
I’ve longed to see you,
but didn’t know where to look.
Yet, I’ve always felt your presence with a mysterious certainty.

I know that for thousands of lifetimes,
you and I have been one,
and the distance between us is only a flash of thought.
Just yesterday while walking alone,
I saw the old path strewn with Autumn leaves,
and the brilliant moon, hanging over the gate,
suddenly appeared like the image of an old friend.
And all the stars confirmed that you were there!
All night, the rain of compassion continued to fall,
while lightning flashed through my window
and a great storm arose,
as if Earth and Sky were in battle.
Finally in me the rain stopped, the clouds parted.
The moon returned,
shining peacefully, calming Earth and Sky.
Looking into the mirror of the moon, suddenly
I saw myself,
and I saw you smiling, Blessed One.
How strange!

The moon of freedom has returned to me,
everything I thought I had lost.
From that moment on,
and in each moment that followed,
I saw that nothing had gone.
There is nothing that should be restored.
Every flower, every stone, and every leaf recognize me.
Wherever I turn, I see you smiling
the smile of no-birth and no-death.
The smile I received while looking at the mirror of the moon.
I see you sitting there, solid as Mount Meru,
calm as my own breath,
sitting as though no raging fire storm ever occurred,
sitting in complete peace and freedom.
At last I have found you, Blessed One,
and I have found myself.
There I sit.

The deep blue sky,
the snow-capped mountains painted against the horizon,
and the shining red sun sing with joy.
You, Blessed One, are my first love.
The love that is always present, always pure, and freshly new.
And I shall never need a love that will be called “last.”
You are the source of well-being flowing through numberless troubled lives,
the water from your spiritual stream always pure, as it was in the beginning.
You are the source of peace,
solidity, and inner freedom.
You are the Buddha, the Tathagata.
With my one-pointed mind
I vow to nourish your solidity and freedom in myself
so I can offer solidity and freedom to countless others,
now and forever.

— from Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh, by Thich Nhat Hanh


/ Photo by paul davis /

Looking into the mirror of the moon, suddenly
I saw myself,
and I saw you smiling, Blessed One.
How strange!

I have just heard that a few days ago the beloved Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh went into the hospital with a brain hemorrhage. He has such a gentle, boyish face, that it is easy to forget that he is in his 80s. The most recent news I have heard is that he is in critical but stable condition.

Every flower, every stone, and every leaf recognize me.
Wherever I turn, I see you smiling
the smile of no-birth and no-death.

I hope you will join me in sending blessings to this great soul, for he has been a great blessing to the world through his gentle presence, clear wisdom, and peace activism.

At last I have found you, Blessed One,
and I have found myself.
There I sit.


Recommended Books: Thich Nhat Hanh

Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering Into Peace, Joy & Liberation


Thich Nhat Hanh, Thich Nhat Hanh poetry, Buddhist poetry Thich Nhat Hanh

Vietnam/France/US (1929 – )
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

More poetry by Thich Nhat Hanh

2 responses so far

Nov 14 2014

empty

Every empty cup is filled.

No responses yet

Nov 13 2014

New Book: The Longing in Between is now available!

Hi All –

Several large boxes of The Longing in Between arrived on my doorstep yesterday afternoon. And the book is now officially available and ready to order, either direct from the printer or through Amazon (including Amazon UK and other international Amazon sites).

I’m really pleased with how well this book has come together. It has a beautiful cover with inspired artwork by Alice Popkorn. The book just feels good in my hands. I may be a bit biased, though. :-)

It is my sincere hope that this new anthology carries with it a sense of blessing, peace, and inspiration for everyone who reads it.

For everyone who pre-ordered a copy of the new anthology, I will be signing them and mailing them out over the next few days. You should be receiving them soon!

The Longing in Between, Sacred Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger The Longing in Between
Sacred Poetry From Around the World

A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

$16.95

PURCHASE

also
Amazon
   

A delightful collection of soul-inspiring poems from the world’s great religious and spiritual traditions, accompanied by Ivan M. Granger’s meditative thoughts and commentary. Rumi, Whitman, Issa, Teresa of Avila, Dickinson, Blake, Lalla, and many others. These are poems of seeking and awakening… and the longing in between.

Devoted readers of the Poetry Chaikhana can finally enjoy this amazing poetry paired with Ivan’s illuminating commentary in book form. The Longing In Between is a truly engaging and thought-provoking exploration of sacred poetry from around the world.

Read More…

The Longing in Between is a work of sheer beauty. Many of the selected poems are not widely known, and Ivan M. Granger has done a great service, not only by bringing them to public attention, but by opening their deeper meaning with his own rare poetic and mystic sensibility.
     ~ ROGER HOUSDEN, author of the best-selling Ten Poems to Change Your Life series


Introduction (excerpt)

a star
a tree
and the longing in between

Gabriel Rosenstock

Without even formulating a complete sentence, Irish poet Gabriel Rosenstock gives us the whole spiritual endeavor–rootedness and aspiration, life, light, a terrible void, and the aching heart that impels us onward.

The longing in between…

Each poem in this collection is born of that same longing–the crisis of longing and its resolution.

If longing poses the question, then union is the answer.

This vibrant tension between longing and union reminds me of a story told by the 10th century Persian Sufi master Junayd. When asked why spiritually realized masters weep, he responded by telling of two brothers who had been apart for years. Upon their reunion, they embraced and were filled with tears. The first brother declared, “What longing!” to which the second brother replied, “What joy!” Longing and fulfillment, the one is not separate from the other.

The mystic maps the territory between the soul and God, between lover and Beloved, between the little self and the true Self, between the transitory and the Eternal. The road connecting these is the road of longing. Mysticism is the science of longing.

The poems gathered in these pages speak to us of seeking and awakening… and the longing in between…


“Ivan M. Granger has woven these poems into a tapestry of great wisdom with his reflection on each poem. I can imagine each poem and commentary furnishing the basis for a daily meditation. I would recommend this anthology to lovers of poetry, to mystics, and to explorers of the spiritual life.”
     ~ HARVEY GILMAN, author of Consider the Blackbird and A Light that is Shining: An Introduction to Quakers


Additional Ways to Support this Anthology

If you have already purchased a copy and want to support the book in other ways, here are a few suggestions:

Give The Longing in Between as a gift
My wife knows me pretty well… most of the time she gives me books as gifts. The Longing in Between makes a wonderful gift for the book-lovers in your life. (The recent snow in our area remind me that the holidays are coming quickly.)

Post a book review
An excellent way to introduce new readers to The Longing in Between is to post a favorable review in places like Amazon and GoodReads.

Ask your local bookstore to carry The Longing in Between
I think The Longing in Between will have great appeal to people who have never heard of me or the Poetry Chaikhana before. I’d love to have this collection of poems on local bookstore shelves, just waiting to be discovered by the right browsers.

I am only just beginning to explore what a publisher must do to get books carried in bookstores, and with my available time an energy I can’t rush through the process. But you can help. Consider asking your favorite local bookstore to carry The Longing in Between among their books. Customer demand always gets their attention. This anthology has a natural appeal to metaphysical bookstores, poetry bookstores, and open-minded church/ashram/mosque/temple bookstores. If the folks at your bookstore ask, The Longing in Between is available for wholesale distribution through Ingram.

Poetry Reading and Book Signing Event

On the afternoon of Saturday, December 6, I will be doing a reading and book signing event at a cozy little coffee shop in Longmont, Colorado. If you happen to be in the area, please come by and say hello! I feel I know so many of you through the emails we share, but I have only met a handful of you in person. This is a perfect opportunity to see who this Ivan fellow is face-to-face.

Date & Time
Saturday, Dec. 6
2:00 pm

Location
La Vita Bella Coffee Shop
475 Main St.
Longmont, CO 80501

Event listing on Facebook

If my energies allow it, I hope to schedule more readings in the future. Let me know if you have any suggestions for locations.

Once again, thank you, everyone, for all of your support and encouragement in bringing this book into being!

Ivan

3 responses so far

Nov 10 2014

Jacopone da Todi – Oh, the futility of seeking to convey

Published by under Poetry

Oh, the futility of seeking to convey (from Self-Annihilation and Charity Lead the Soul…)
by Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)

English version by Serge and Elizabeth Hughes

Oh, the futility of seeking to convey
With images and feelings
That which surpasses all measure!
The futility of seeking
To make infinite powers ours!
Thought cannot come to certainty of belief
And there is no likeness of God
That is not flawed.

Hence, if He should call you,
Let yourself be drawn to Him.
He may lead you to a great truth.
Do not dwell on yourself, nor should you —
A creature subject to multiplicity and change — seek Him;
Rest in tranquility, loftier than action or feeling,
And you will find that as you lose yourself
He will give you strength.

— from Jacopone da Todi: Lauds (Classics of Western Spirituality), Translated by Serge and Elizabeth Hughes


/ Photo by MustafaDedeogLu /

It is a blustery morning here in Colorado. The last of Autumn’s leaves are being blown from their branches to swirl and spin against a graying sky. It’s a moody day. Reading today’s poem is inspiring some cantankerous observations…

Thought cannot come to certainty of belief
And there is no likeness of God
That is not flawed.

The great monotheistic faiths — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — lay particular emphasis on avoiding idolatry. In its most literal form, this is understood as the injunction against making an image of God and then worshipping that image. But the way Jacopone da Todi phrases it implies that the world is filled with images of God, all of which are flawed. And he is correct: the world is packed with imperfect images of God, yet only a small percentage are found in paintings or sculptures.

Even when we worship at the most unadorned altar, still we carry an image of God before us — in our thoughts. That’s where the vast majority of the world’s idols reside. We, each of us, carry an idea of God in our minds, constructed from what our parents and friends believe, what our religion teaches us, what society tells us. Even the most staunch atheist carries this mental idol, but names it something else. The mind’s idol is that which we worship and give ourselves to. It is that which we are attached to, that which gives us identity. It is whatever we continuously fixate on. That idol may be money or position, a great romance or a great accomplishment. It can be service or escape. It can be truth. It can be love. It is what glows in our mind’s eye, continuously calling to us. It is that which we have dedicated our life force to, for good or ill. That is the image we have placed on our internal altar and worship daily — whether we think of it as worship or not.

These internal idols, even the most transcendent and elevated, are flawed, however, because they are built from a mixture of mental concepts, unexamined impulses, and one’s imperfect sense of self, all of which are necessarily limited and, therefore, incapable of encompassing the All.

We must never make the mistake of thinking that our limited mental ideas of God are the same thing as God. Only God is God. Only the All is All. Anything else is a mental shorthand and, therefore, less than the Fullness we seek. Our thoughts about God are, at best, stepping stones along the journey. They must evolve and expand as we move ever closer to the Reality we have been trying to imagine. If those mental concepts and goals remain fixed, then we have become stuck… and have fallen into the real trap of idol worship.

This is a key problem with religious fundamentalism. It requires us to set up an unchanging image of God in our minds. By definition, fundamentalist belief is built on rigid mental constructions of who and what God is. Fundamentalism is idol worship.

For this reason, it always seems hypocritical to me when someone denigrates Hindus, for example, as “idol worshippers.” It is our mental idols that stand in our way, not the physical ones. We are all idol worshippers, regardless of what rests upon our altars. We are all idol worshippers, that is, until we lose ourselves in the full vision of the Divine. So called idol worshippers are often more likely to understand this truth than the most puritanical monotheistic sects.

Whether or not we show reverence to a picture or a statue, let us not be snared by the idols of the mind and, instead, yield more and more into the full vision of the unlimited and fluid Reality that is our true home.

Rest in tranquility, loftier than action or feeling,
And you will find that as you lose yourself
He will give you strength.


Recommended Books: Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Jacopone da Todi: Lauds (Classics of Western Spirituality) All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time


Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti), Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti) poetry, Christian poetry Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)

Italy (1230 – 1306) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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5 responses so far

Nov 10 2014

drowning in bliss

The ego, drowning in bliss,
laughs with its last gasp.

No responses yet

Nov 07 2014

Gabriel Rosenstock – Look! a tree

Published by under Poetry

Look! a tree
by Gabriel Rosenstock

Look! a tree
is becoming the spirit
of the wind

— from Hymn to the Earth: Photographs by Ron Rosenstock, by Gabriel Rosenstock


/ Photo by Dave Goodman /

I was a young child in Oregon, and I remember loving trips to the coast. Unlike the beaches I knew later in Southern California, the coasts of Oregon are moody and windy, places for a child to find scuttling crabs darting among the rocks and wonderlands hidden in tide pools. Sturdy windswept trees would lean over the bluffs keeping watch over the rolling tides.

You would think long years and decades of standing in the wind currents driving in off the Pacific Ocean would cause some of these trees to lean back, with branches swept behind them like tendrils of hair fluttering in the wind. But I usually saw the opposite: These sturdy trees would brace themselves and reach forward with practiced determination. Season after season the wind rushes through the tree’s arms, and the tree slowly learns to stretch forward towards that embrace… and, in so doing, embodies the spirit of its challenging, intangible beloved.


Recommended Books: Gabriel Rosenstock

Bliain an Bhandé – Year of the Goddess Haiku: The Gentle Art of Disappearing Haiku Enlightenment Where Light Begins: Haiku Hymn to the Earth: Photographs by Ron Rosenstock
More Books >>


Gabriel Rosenstock, Gabriel Rosenstock poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Gabriel Rosenstock

Ireland (1949 – )
Secular or Eclectic
Primal/Tribal/Shamanic : Celtic

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7 responses so far

Nov 07 2014

dive deep

There is a misconception that Eternity
is somewhere in the future.

If you want to touch Eternity,
dive deep into the present.

No responses yet

Nov 05 2014

Abu-Said Abil-Kheir – If you keep seeking the jewel of understanding

Published by under Poetry

If you keep seeking the jewel of understanding
by Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

English version by Vraje Abramian

If you keep seeking the jewel of understanding,
then you are a mine of understanding in the making.
If you live to reach the Essence one day,
then your life itself is an expression of the Essence.
Know that in the final analysis you are that
which you search for.

— from Nobody, Son of Nobody: Poems of Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir, Translated by Vraje Abramian


/ Photo by notsogoodphotography /

I am back. And the anthology is ready! The Longing in Between is now finalized and at the printers. I should be receiving copies next week for me to sign and send out to everyone who purchased a pre-order copy recently. I am really pleased with how this first anthology has come together. I think you will like it too!

Now then, today’s poem…

This poem speaks a direct truth that should be obvious, but somehow isn’t.

If you live to reach the Essence one day,
then your life itself is an expression of the Essence.

When we focus on a goal, when we turn our hearts and all our thoughts and energies toward it, we begin to take on the qualities of that which we strive for. We could say that we become what we seek, but that’s not exactly what Abu-Said Abil-Kheir is saying; rather, we eventually discover that we are what we seek. What we seek we find inside. It has always been there, we must simply search.

When we are reminded of this truth, a hidden tension in the soul eases. There is always a nagging question: Will I achieve my goal? Am I foolish to even pursue it? This poem’s insight dismantles that self-defeating inner dialog. Through seeking we necessarily succeed. The seeking itself defines us and opens us, awakening recognition of the goal with us always.

Know that in the final analysis you are that
which you search for.

Have a beautiful day!

Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

Turkmenistan (967 – 1049) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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3 responses so far

Nov 05 2014

the true church

The awakened heart
is the true church.

No responses yet

Oct 17 2014

Rabindranath Tagore – I touch God in my song

Published by under Poetry

I touch God in my song
by Rabindranath Tagore

English version by Rabindranath Tagore

I touch God in my song
      as the hill touches the far-away sea
            with its waterfall.

The butterfly counts not months but moments,
      and has time enough.

Let my love, like sunlight, surround you
      and yet give you illumined freedom.

Love remains a secret even when spoken,
      for only a lover truly knows that he is loved.

Emancipation from the bondage of the soil
      is no freedom for thee.

In love I pay my endless debt to thee
      for what thou art.

— from The Fugitive, by Rabindranath Tagore


/ Photo by smerfeo /

…only a lover truly knows that he is loved.

In this poem’s few short lines, Rabindranath Tagore marries the bhakti path of utter love for God with the heart of karma yoga’s union through service and action.

In traditional Indian metaphysics, the goal is usually understood to be enlightenment and freedom from the karmic tug that traps us in the cycle of earthly embodiment, “emancipation from the bondage of the soil.” But here Tagore challenges the otherworldliness that often engenders.

Even the spiritual idea of liberation can become a selfish goal. For one utterly in love with God, the paying of that “debt” is simply a labor of love. Every effort, every experience, even suffering, is simply an expression of one’s love for God. That is enough right there for the true lover of God. Rather than seeking escape from “the soil,” the world is seen as a panorama that offers endless opportunities to worship and experience the Divine.

This is the great vision of karma yoga.

It is also the attitude that finally allows us to be at rest on our spiritual journey, rather than live as a convict on the run. What some see as the prison yard, becomes instead an exercise yard… or a playground! It is a courageous way of acknowledging that freedom is not escape, it is deep presence.

And we find that we live not in fleeting time, but in the ever expanding present moment.

The butterfly counts not months but moments,
      and has time enough.

Rabindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Rabindranath Tagore

India (1861 – 1941) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu

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3 responses so far

Oct 17 2014

beneath the mask

Seek the smoldering eyes
beneath the mask.

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Oct 14 2014

Derek Walcott – Love After Love

Published by under Poetry

Love After Love
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

— from Collected Poems 1948 – 1984, by Derek Wolcott


/ Photo by vanillapearl /

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving

This is a magical moment, when we finally encounter ourselves… when we actually see through to something essential, when we see through to something that is what we really are.

Most of the time I think we carry a reflexive fear of that meeting, so we tense up and expend a great deal of effort to avoid it. But Derek Walcott rightly says it is a moment of elation, one that inspires a deep smile and a profound sense of homecoming.

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Is there more to say? Perhaps also a reminder to celebrate the journey that has brought us here…

Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott, Derek Walcott poetry, Christian poetry Derek Walcott

St. Lucia & UK (1930 – )
Christian

More poetry by Derek Walcott

2 responses so far

Oct 14 2014

real magic

Remember, real magic
is hidden,
hidden in the quiet moments.

No responses yet

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