Friday, November 15, 2013


Photo by Jonathan Zander, found on Wikimedia Commons
Once or twice a week, Parker J. Palmer posts a poem on his Facebook page. And somehow, almost every time, they are poems that speak to something deep within my soul. I go back and reread them again and again.

David Whyte is a poet that shows up a lot in Palmer's post. And finally I got curious enough that I googled Whyte and went to his website. He's published a lot, and he speaks a lot, and maybe I have read other things by him, and just don't know it, but he has definitely jumped onto my list of favorite poets, right up there with Mary Oliver and Billy Collins.

On his home page, I found a poem I absolutely loved. It's not very long, and I couldn't figure out how to share a part of it. I probably used too much, and I didn't do it justice here, at all. Please take a minute and go to his website and read the poem.

"The Lightest Touch"

Good poetry begins
with the lightest touch…

then like a hand in the dark
it arrests the whole body…

you can feel Lazarus
deep inside
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

Read the rest of this incredible poem here.

And then, in what seems like an incredible act of generosity, Whyte has a page with links to 13 more poems. Here are parts of two I loved. 


Imagine the confines of a long grey corridor
just before immigration at Washington Dulles
airport. Imagine two Ethiopian women amid
a sea of familiar international plastic blandness,
entering America for the first time…

Imagine a sharp plexi-glass turn left and suddenly
before them, in biblical astonishment, like a vertical
red sea churning, like the waters barring Moses from
The Promised Land, like Jacob standing before the ladder,
a moving escalator, a mode of rising, a form of ascension,
a way to go up they'd never seen before, its steel grey
interlocking invitation on and up to who knows what,
bringing them and everyone behind them, to a bemused,
complete, and utter standstill

So that you saw it for the first time as they saw it
and for what it was, a grated river of lifting steel,
an involuntary, moving ascension into who knows what.
An incredible surprise…

David Whyte

Read the rest of the poem here.

Second Sight

Sometimes, you need the ocean light,
    and colors you've never seen before
        painted through an evening sky.
Sometimes you need your God
    to be a simple invitation,
        not a telling word of wisdom.
Read the rest of the poem here.

Visit David Whyte's website here. Poke around a little while- there are beautiful poems and words hidden on almost every page. Your spirit will feel better after you do.

Jama is hosting Poetry Friday today. You will want to drop by for more delicious offerings.


jama said...

Thanks for the heads up on David Whyte -- always nice to discover poets for the first time. Like the sample poems you shared. :)

Tabatha said...

Thanks for these, Carol, and for the reminder -- Whyte's name sounded familiar so I checked my poetry file and I found two: "The Journey" and "What to Remember When Waking." Happy sigh.

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

"The Lightest Touch" was breathtaking. Thanks for the introduction to this amazing poet, Carol.

Linda B said...

So, I was here about 45 minutes ago, & I got so interested in reading Whyte's poetry that I forgot what I had been doing, Carol! How wonderful is that, to find a new poet tonight! Thank you for this new discovery.

GatheringBooks said...

It's the first that I've heard of David Whyte - thank you for sharing such a powerful poet. His poems spoke to me too.

Ramona said...

A new poet for me. I'll be back to visit his pages, but I must stay on task this a.m. - many papers to grade. Reading blogs is a fun reward for finishing and posting two stacks of papers!