A Few Cherished Poems

Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII

Want the change. Be inspired by the flame

where everything shines as it disappears.

The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much

as the curve of the body as it turns away.


What locks itself in sameness has congealed.

Is it safer to be gray and numb?

What turns hard becomes rigid

and is easily shattered.


Pour yourself out like a fountain.

Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking

finishes often at the start, and with ending, begins.


Every happines is the child of a separation

it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming

a laurel,

dares you to become the wind.


~Rainer Maria Rilke~

(In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)



Sonnet 105

Let not my love be call’d idolatry,

Nor my beloved as an idol show,

Since all alike my songs and praises be

To one, of one, still such, and ever so.

Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,

Still constant in a wondrous excellence,

Therefore my verse, to constancy confin’d,

One thing expressing, leaves out difference.

“Fair,” “kind,” and “true” is all my argument,

“Fair,” “kind,” and “true” varying to other words,

And in this change is my inventions spent,

Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.

            “Fair,” “kind,” and “true” have often liv’d alone.

            Which three till now never kept seat in one.

William Shakespeare



The bud

stands for all things,

even those things that don't flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing.


~Galway Kinnell~

St. Francis and the Sow






Ironic, but one of the most intimate acts

of our body is



So beautiful appeared my death---knowing who then I would kiss,

I died a thousand times before I died.


“Die before you die,” said the Prophet



Have wings that feared ever

touched the Sun?


I was born when all I once

feared---I could


~Rabia of Basra~

(C. 717-801)

A Psalm of Life 

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, 

Life is but an empty dream! 

For the soul is dead that slumbers, 

And things are not what they seem. 


Life is real! Life is earnest! 

And the grave is not its goal; 

Dust thou art, to dust returnest, 

Was not spoken of the soul. 


Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, 

Is our destined end or way; 

But to act, that each to-morrow 

Find us farther than to-day. 


Art is long, and Time is fleeting, 

And our hearts, though stout and brave, 

Still, like muffled drums, are beating  

Funeral marches to the grave. 


In the world’s broad field of battle, 

In the bivouac of Life, 

Be not like dumb, driven cattle! 

Be a hero in the strife! 


Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! 

Let the dead Past bury the dead! 

Act, --act in the living Present! 

Heart within, and God o’erhead! 


Lives of great men all remind us 

We can make our lives sublime, 

And, departing, leave behind us 

Footprints on the sands of time; 


Footprints, that perhaps another, 

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, 

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, 

Seeing, shall take heart again. 


Let us, then, be up and doing, 

With a heart for any fate; 

Still achieving, still pursuing, 

Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow