Deepening the Wonder

Poems that invite us to the mystery of time

“Deepening the Wonder” by Hafiz

“Next, Please” by Philip Larkin

"Starlight" by Philip Levine

"The Pleading" by John O'Donohue

"After the Diagnosis" by Christian Wiman

“Abide” by Jake Adam York

Poems for Listening, Grieving, and Opening the Heart

organized by invitation

David LaMotte


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Placing poems in subject categories seems like an unkind thing to do to such "exciting presences," as John O'Donohue calls them in the prose passage that accompanies his poem, "The Pleading."  Poems resist such a reductive exercise; they spill across categories, subvert them, or shift from one to another with every reader and every reading. The aim here is not to fix poems by subject, but rather to suggest when and why you might wish to converse with a particular poem.  In that sense, they are organized not so much by "subject" as by "feeling."

I thought about using Kübla-Ross's five stages of grief as the categories (a possibility that Kevin Young also considers and rejects for his fine anthology, The Art of Losing — Poems of Grief & Healing). But that would, I think, do a double injustice: one to the restlessness of the poems and one to the dynamic nature of the stages of grief, which bleed into one another and shift positions as they come and go in the human heart.

Rather than subjects or categories, then, think of these four groupings as invitations to different kinds of conversation, different reasons one might have to listen to a poem and to feel it on your breath.

1 The Peace of Wild Things

Poems that invite us home to our place in nature

"Metastasis" by David Baker

"The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry

“Of Earth” by John Daniel

"Daisies" by Mary Oliver

"Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

"The Doe" by C.K. Williams

2 Let the Night Be Dark

Poems that invite us to go where we have to go

“Work Song” by Wendell Berry

"Acceptance" by Robert Frost

“Let Evening Come” by Jane Kenyon

"The Waking" by Theodore Roethke

“On the Day I Die” by Rumi

"Love's Last" by Christian Wiman

3 Everything Is Soul and Flowering

Poems that invite us to an open heart

"Ripening" by Wendell Berry

"The Promise" by Jane Hirshfield

"The Messenger" by Mary Oliver

"Roses, Late Summer" by Mary Oliver

“One Song” by Rumi

“Roses Underfoot” by Rumi