Welcome, traveler! Enter and take your rest...

Achaikhana is a teahouse along the legendary Silk Road pilgrimage andtrading route linking China to the Middle East and Europe. It is aplace of rest along the journey, a place to shake off the dust of theroad, to sip tea, and to gather together to sing songs of the Divine...



How to Be a Poet

by Wendell Berry

 

(To remind myself)

i
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill -- more of each
than you have -- inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

ii
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

iii
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

-- from Given: Poems, by Wendell Berry


/ Image by Louis Vest /

View All Poems by Wendell Berry


One doesn't have to be a poet to inspired by this poem. In fact, it's not really about writing poetry at all, is it? It's really about how to be present, how to inhabit the world quietly and notice more than ourselves. That is when the best poetry is born.

The first verse invites is to settle down. Reading those first few lines, I feel my own bones settling awkwardly into a state of rest and stillness. And there is the slow interior work of reading, cultivating inspiration, the private work on the blank page. I love that he lists "growing older" as one of the necessary tasks of the poet. And patience--

for patience joins time
to eternity.


The second verse seems to be more about our relationship to place, both exterior and interior space. In recent years I haven't done so well with avoiding electric wire and screens, but there was a time some years ago when I did just that, literally. I embraced my Luddite instincts as much as practical. It does shift one's sense of reality and connection to the world. The transition feels stressful at first, and then, slowly, the world around us starts to take on a new depth and life, becoming a slow-speaking friend in constant, quiet communication.

What are the ways we have been taught to not recognize our ongoing dialog with all around us?

There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.


And he concludes with that wonderful meditation on silence. We think a poem is a collection of words, but the best poetry simply gives shape to silence.

Accept what comes from silence...

make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.


Have a beautiful weekend, remembering to breathe the unconditional breath!



Share Your Thoughts on today's poem or my commentary...
(Or visit the poem's blog page to click the FB 'Like' button.)








/ Photo by Daisuke Matsumura /

Donations to the Poetry Chaikhana

New donations this week:

- Gary D., John P., Claudia D. (monthly)

- A big thank you also to everyone who is a regular supporter through automatic monthly donations.


A NOTE: While donations are important and greatly appreciated to keep the Poetry Chaikhana running, I know that personal finances are feeling uncertain for many people. I don't want anyone to feel that they have to make donations to receive these emails. If you need to cancel your monthly donation for any reason, I understand. When donations are easy, then I welcome them; but please do not strain your finances to donate. I want you all to be well.

A few reasons to consider making a donation of your own...

  • Make a donation to a local charity in the name the Poetry Chaikhana. The good circulates.
  • Other ways to help: Spread the word! Tell others about the Poetry Chaikhana and Poetry Chaikhana books.
  • It's springtime!
  • The Poetry Chaikhana brings a little beauty and inspiration to you each week.
  • The Poetry Chaikhana encourages respect for the rich diversity of religion and cultures -- so needed in the world today.
Poetry Chaikhana