Posts Tagged ‘poem’

winter walk dec 10 2008 012

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

~Langston Hughes “Mother to Son”

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The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

Though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice-

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do-

determined to save

the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver

Though she attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College, Oliver never received a degree. She left school, in part, because she felt ready to write on her own. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her third book, American Primitive , in 1984.

Shortly after winning her Pulitzer, Oliver described her routine as follows: “I simply do not distinguish between work and play.”

(poem and exerpts from The Power of Experience: Great Writers over 50 on the Quest for a Lifetime of Meaning, edited by Jeremy James.)

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Since my house burned down

I now own a better view

Of the rising moon

~ Japanese Zen Haiku written by Miszuta Masahide, a samurai disciple of Basho, in 1688, after his house burned to the ground.

I heard this poem when I was in the car, listening to a CBC Radio One interview with Pico Iyer, who has just published a book called The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Pretty timely topic, considering the highly public troubles between China and Tibet. I wonder how difficult it is for the Dalai Lama to maintain his unwavering dedication towards the moral high ground when he comes under constant criticism for the way his spiritual beliefs appear to some to have allowed the Chinese to gain ever increasing power in Tibet. He’s been a political leader for 56 years, been the spiritual leader of his country since the age of fifteen, and has never once deviated from his outspoken belief in non-violence. According to Iyer, the Dalai Lama is able to remain firm in his beliefs because his is a very long term outlook. The Dalai Lama says that he does not expect to see the results of his actions in his own lifetime, but that he will still do what he believes is right. That violence is never the answer, that violence only creates more of the same, and that the cycle must be broken.

I wholeheartedly agree, but I wonder what I would do if one of my children was being physically threatened. My guess is that I would jump right into action, non-violence be damned, anything to prevent harm from befalling one of my babies. So much for my high-minded ideals. Okay in the abstract, okay in the big picture, but definitely not okay when it comes to the pain or suffering of someone I love. I just don’t think I could sacrifice one of the kids to my firmly held ideals, even if it meant the end of violence for all human kind.

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For the Grandparents


This is a pic of L at Nationals this summer. I like how you can see the spray coming off her toes. (Thanks M!)

This is a poem she wrote (reprinted with permission):


Girls draw hearts

Everyone has them

Boys stare at them on the page,

trying to figure out the mystery of girls’ minds

Hearts can be black, so people say

Can they be green, red, and grey?

What about purple?

Blue and gold too?

Are they different when they’re new?

When you’re sick, do they change?

 Are all people’s hearts the same?



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