Poetry and Space That Matters

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment
sun

|Photo by cat's_101|http://www.flickr.com/photos/danseprofane/4349608/|

On the heels of a very rich Whole Measures training last week, along with a beautiful weekend spent largely outdoors, I have been reminded of the power of poetry and paying attention as means of creating individual and social shifts.  As part of our opening during last week’s training, we invited pairs to read a selected poem to one another, paying attention to any feeling they had in their bodies while doing so, and then speaking to their partners and then the whole group about the impressions with which they were left.  The exercise was a great illustration of how we can tap into the different dimensions of social space to open people to new ways of seeing, being, and doing, and to what really matters most.  So what better way to start off the week than with a little poetry that speaks to what is simultaneously obvious and often missed in our lives?

The Sun

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful
than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon
and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone—
and how it slides again
out of the blackness
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower
streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance—
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love—
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure
that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you
as you stand there,
empty-handed—
or have you too
turned from this world—
or have you too
gone crazy
for power
for things?

-Mary Oliver

Try reading this aloud, see what you notice in your body, consider reading it to another person over lunch, take turns doing this.  What individual and shared truths are evoked?

No Comments

  • Gibran says:

    Thank you Curtis! This is beautiful! I too like to use poetry to open up a different kind of space. Mary Oliver’s poem reminds me of one of our recent IISC Post Cards:

    Even after all this time
    The sun never says
    To the earth
    ‘You owe me’

    Look what happens
    With a love like that
    It lights
    The whole sky.

    – Hafiz

  • Curtis says:

    Thanks, Gibran, for reminding me of the Hafiz words. I’ve always loved the power of poetry to connect the subjective and the universal, if not in the words themselves, then the feelings evoked!

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