Apr 25 2018

Philip Booth – First Lesson

Published by at 7:14 am under Poetry

First Lesson
by Philip Booth

Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man’s float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

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

/ Image by Vassilis /

A father teaching his daughter to swim. The first lesson, how to float. He cradles her head in his hands and tells her to spread her arms and relax, looking up at the sky.

Very quickly this becomes a metaphor for life. Soon she will swim confidently. But it is a long effort to reach her “island.” When exhaustion inevitably sets in and fear seizes the heart, that first lesson comes back: rather than struggle, just rest, trust, lean back, float. Watch the stars.

the sea will hold you.

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

One response so far

One Response to “Philip Booth – First Lesson”

  1. Annaon 25 Apr 2018 at 8:48 am

    Thank you, Ivan.
    Very timely poem!
    The same page too,
    extremely exhausted, too(:!

    I have the sense that life has turned upside down.
    All basic human instinctual programmed habits like
    eat and sleep have changed completely their known patterns.

    That what was night and dream and unreal,
    became real and daydreaming, normal and regular.
    That what was day and normal,
    turned to surreal, unreal, not normal,sleepy,
    walking foggy-droggy existence…

    It seems we must to learn from scratch
    completely new skills,
    like babyes,
    learning to walk again…
    …. everything,
    to adapt to new way of
    Living ,
    New Life..

    …to learn to maintain flow,
    learn to Move Energy,
    learn to stay in a constant allowing/surrendered mode,
    learn to speak all over again (all along the way),
    learn new words,
    learn new ways as our bodies acclimate
    to functioning at all
    new frequencies.

    Rest and sleep,
    sleep and rest…

    We will survive,
    the sea will hold us
    and we will reach

    The First,
    but not the Last
    and of course,
    Nature is our constant
    teacher and guide,
    again and again
    bringing us back to ourselves.

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