Nov 13 2020
The Warbler Knows
by Ivan M. Granger
The warbler knows
only dawn’s shaft
on her breast.
Forgetting false future
suns, she sings
in no voice
but her own.
— from Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, by Ivan M. Granger
/ Image by B W /
I know this feels like a difficult time for many of us. New Covid lockdowns as we approach the winter months, holidays that feel uncharacteristically isolated, a US presidential election that is over but without a smooth transition of power, and more economic uncertainties. Anxiety is high. Depression is not uncommon. Everyone is facing some form of struggle in this period. I would like to remind us all to be kind toward one another — and kind toward ourselves. Compassion and being willing to help when we can will help us through.
It is useful to think of this period as a sort of doubled winter, an enforced time of inturning, reflection, and inner work. We can either exhaust ourselves by fighting the larger pattern or we can work with it, use it. This is a good time for meditation and rediscovering our purpose, so that, when the thaw comes, we can step out into the world renewed and strengthened.
Another important reminder is that even amidst the darkest days, the light we seek we carry within ourselves. The dark days are the best days to recognize that light, to tend to it and help it to grow.
So I thought today I would share a poem of light and renewal, one of my own poems…
Dawn is the flood of light that comes from the east which causes us to awaken. When we allow ourselves to become fully aware of this sacred state, we know nothing else, see nothing else; the spiritual dawn engulfs all, enlightening everything.
And we experience this state most strongly in the breast, a warming and radical opening and deep centering in the heart.
Utterly content in the eternal present, we forget the mind’s endless fantasies and fears about the future. All the future ever can be is an extension of the present, and it is here, now that we reside — always.
Recognizing this, we settle into silence, “no voice.” Yet a song emerges from the stillness, nonetheless. The voice that sings is not the mind or the ego, but the presence quietly and eternally seated behind those fluctuating elements; it is the deeply familiar voice the true Self.
The poet Gabriel Rosenstock translated this poem into the Irish language —
Ní heol don cheolaire
ach maide gréine
ar a brollach.
Dearúdann sí na bréag-ghrianta
a thiocfaidh, ní chanann
i nguth ar bith
ach ina guth féin.
Something about reading this poem in an unfamiliar language makes me smile. It’s like seeing an old friend through new eyes.
|Ivan M. Granger|
Ivan M. Granger is the founder and editor of the Poetry Chaikhana, a publishing house and online resource for sacred poetry from around the world. He is the author of Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey and editor of The Longing in Between: A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology. His poetry and translations have been included in several magazines and anthologies.
Ivan grew up in Oregon and Southern California. He has also lived on the island of Maui. He now lives in Colorado with his wife, Michele.
“Poetry has an immediate effect on the mind. The simple act of reading poetry alters thought patterns and the shuttle of the breath. Poetry induces trance. Its words are chant. Its rhythms are drumbeats. Its images become the icons of the inner eye. Poetry is more than a description of the sacred experience; it carries the experience itself.”
Poetry Chaikhana readers often ask me about myself. Who is the guy behind all those poetry emails? What drew you to sacred poetry? And just what does “Poetry Chaikhana” mean?
As a way to answer some of those questions, I thought I’d post an audio interview I did a few years ago. I talk a little about myself, and a lot about poetry — the transformational power of poetry, the ways poetry naturally expresses the sacred experience, the non-dogmatic nature of poetry. And I read a few poems.
Click to listen: Interview with Ivan M. Granger