04 May 2009

weekend poem

This poem was shared by a couple at the marriage retreat that lakay and I attended this weekend. It's supposed to remind us that there is poetry in every aspect of our lives. Some are written, but most are (gladly) left unwritten. Here's an invitation to all of us to see and appreciate the sacred poem that is in each person we come to encounter.

How To Be a Poet

(to remind myself)

by Wendell Barry


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.


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.


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.

I am not a poet, and I won't pretend that I understand poems expertly. But what I like about poems is how they teach you to read slowly. That's why I like the movie of Cameron Diaz, In her Shoes. Her character is that of a beautiful woman who has also grown up into a slow learner, an illustration of the dumb blonde stereotype. There is a part in that movie when she is asked by a blind old man to read him a poem. After a lot of hesitation, she reads, as slowly and awkwardly like that of a 5-year old still learning how to read. Silly as she may have sounded, I understood the poem because of the way she delivered it. Slowness, is therefore, a virtue.

Some of the lines I like best about the poem above:

"patience joins time to eternity"

Any reader who likes your poems doubts his judgment.

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

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