When Poetry Brings Me to Tears...

abbymortenson

When my heart is aching, stirring, sifting, seeking.

I go to the poems.

I look for words strung together that speak to the deeper places of my soul where it’s sometimes harder to reach.

I listen.

I sit with it and allow any tears to come. Knowing that there’s some kind of healing in it.

Here’s one I needed to hear and found today. As winter looms in the near future and I feel as if fall is flying by without much opportunity to relish in it’s beauty… there’s a sadness that comes over me. But there’s goodness in the shifting of the seasons. There’s beauty to be found in the quiet cold of winter. Right now the leaves dance in the wind under the moonlight. Soon the branches will be empty but, as Rilke says, the sky remains.

“Onto a Vast Plain”

BY RAINER MARIA RILKE

translation by Joanna Macy + Anita Barrows

You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.

The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees’ blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit:
now it becomes a riddle again
and you again a stranger.

Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.

Book of Hours, II 1


Drop in for a yoga class or join our next Women’s Circle to hear some more of my favorite soul-touching poems. I usually read something meaningful in every class I teach. Something to carry with you through your days.

Abby Mortenson