Feb 23 2018

Philip Booth – How to See a Deer

Published by at 9:37 am under Poetry

How to See a Deer
by Philip Booth

Forget roadside crossings.
Go nowhere with guns.
Go elsewhere your own way,

lonely and wanting. Or
stay and be early:
next to deep woods

inhabit old orchards.
All clearings promise.
Sunrise is good,

and fog before sun.
Expect nothing always;
find your luck slowly.

Wait out the windfall.
Take your good time
to learn to read ferns;

make like a turtle:
downhill toward slow water.
Instructed by heron,

drink the pure silence.
Be compassed by wind.
If you quiver like aspen

trust your quick nature:
let your ear teach you
which way to listen.

You’ve come to assume
protective color; now
colors reform to

new shapes in your eye.
You’ve learned by now
to wait without waiting;

as if it were dusk
look into light falling:
in deep relief

things even out. Be
careless of nothing. See
what you see.

— from Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999, by Philip Booth

/ Image by Iamidaho /

With its elusiveness and profound stillness even in movement, the way it appears in the mist or vanishes into the forest (perhaps beckoning us to follow), deer represent to us that intangible reality we all seek on some level. The doe’s gentle face, suggests to us peace, beauty, trust. The stag’s majestic stance displaying his antlers, naturally evokes a primal sense of kingship and otherworldly might.

Naturally, the deer becomes a symbol for God, the Divine Beloved, the Messiah. But even when we set aside our religious lenses, we can’t help but feel that the solitary deer, encountered in a quiet moment, is an ambassador between worlds, hinting to us of another reality.

How do we meet this quiet spirit? How do we have the sacred encounter? The poet says it so beautifully: We go elsewhere, our own way. Next to wild places, and spots that invite rest and contemplation. Without expectations. With patience and trust. Pay attention to the rhythms of life all around. Trust your own nature. Listen to the inner voice. Learn to see anew. See what you see.

(Special thanks to Lalita Vajra for introducing me to this poem.)

Recommended Books: Philip Booth

Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999

Philip Booth, Philip Booth poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Philip Booth

US (1925 – 2007) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Philip Booth

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Philip Booth – How to See a Deer”

  1. Harvey Gillmanon 23 Feb 2018 at 10:51 am

    Once again I so appreciate your commentary. I am in Seville at the moment. It is stunningly beautiful. But the glorious tower of the cathedral is a Christian modification of the Muslim minaret when Christians violently regained the city, and after Jews were murdered nearby. Now it is a friendly international city. So I aware of beauty, massacres, grandeur, bigotry, and integration. If our spirituality has no room for a recognition heaven and hell ( both in earth!), it is lacking in reality.

  2. Johnon 23 Feb 2018 at 11:00 am

    Yes Ivan Life is bitter-sweet and all the richer for it

  3. Annaon 23 Feb 2018 at 1:25 pm

    There is so much beauty in this poem.

    On the first layer.

    On the second, deeper layer…

    I even afraid to trouble the silence
    of the poem as well the photo
    with words…

    Words seems to crash the silence,
    hardening the freely movement
    of the perception of clear vision
    mainly separate…

    Separate the breath of the deer
    from our breath…

    If we unify
    our breath

    will Know
    how to see a deer

    Gratitude, Ivan for the soft flowing ,
    warm commentary …

  4. STCUon 25 Feb 2018 at 2:02 am

    Thank you so much, Ivan M. Granger. I know you are enjoying your collections!

  5. RedazioneMUon 27 Feb 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Ivan M. Granger, thanks a lot for the article post.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

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