Mystics and Poets Leave Us Love Songs
We get help from our mystic and poet friends today as we celebrate love and passion: love of self, love of others and love of God. Lee Ann is joined in this episode by poet-lawyer, Andrea Grill. Enjoy this poetry in all its naked beauty!
The Works and Their Poetry:
The Hope of Loving by Meister Eckhart
What keeps us alive, what allows us to endure?
I think it is the hope of loving
Or being loved.
I heard a fable once about the sun going on a journey
To find its source, and how the moon wept
Without her lover’s
We weep when light does not reach our hearts. We wither
Like fields if someone close
Does not rain their
Love Does That by Meister Eckhart
All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
With heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
About things that bother only
And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
Than physical labor.
Once in a while a kind monk comes
To her stable and brings
A pear, but more
He looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears
And for a few seconds the burro is free
And even seems to laugh
Because love does
“Dig Here,” the Angel Said by St. John of the Cross
She caught me off guard when my soul said to me,
“Have we met?”
So surprised I was to hear her speak like that
She began to sing a tale: “There was once a hardworking man
Who used to worry so much because he could
not feed and clothe his children and
wife the way he wanted.
There was a beautiful little chapel in the village
where the man lived and one day while
he was praying, an angel
The angel said, ‘Follow me.’ And he did, out into an ancient forest.
‘Now dig here,” the angel said. And the man felt strength in
his limbs he had not known since youth and found a
lost treasure, and his relationship
with the world changed.”
Finding our soul’s beauty does that—gives us
“Dig here,” the angel said—
“in your soul,
God Says Yes to Me by Kaylin Haught
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes
Love After Love by Derek Wolcott
The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,
And say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Slicing Potatoes and also, A Vase by Rabia
putting my hands on a pot, on a broom,
in a wash
but it was easier to fly
I am always holding a priceless vase in my hands.
If you asked me about the deeper truths
of the path and I told you
it would be like handing sacred relics to you.
But most have their hands tied
that is, most are not free of events their eyes have seen
and their ears have heard
and their bodies have felt.
Most cannot focus their abilities
in the present, and
might drop what
So I’ll wait; I don’t mind waiting until
your love for all
Sweet Darkness by David Whyte
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
God Would Kneel Down by St. Francis of Assisi
I think God might be a little prejudiced.
For once He asked me to join Him on a walk
through the world,
and we gazed into every heart on this earth,
and I noticed He lingered a bit longer
before any face that was
and before any eyes that were
And sometimes when we passed
a soul in worship
God too would kneel
I have come to learn: God
A Place to Sit by Kabir
Don’t go outside your house to see flowers.
My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
before gardens and after gardens.
Some Kiss We Want by Rumi
There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of
spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At
night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its
face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language-door and
open the love-window. The moon
won’t use the door, only the window.
Wild Nights by Emily Dickinson
Wild Nights—Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
To a Heart in port—
Done with the Compass—
Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden—
Ah, the Sea!
Might I but moor—Tonight—
Biographies of Poets and Mystics in order of appearance in the show:
Meister Eckhart was a German Catholic monk, scholar and mystic of the 13th and 14th centuries. His marvelously radical and sublime understanding of the divine was appreciated by his countrymen but condemned by the Church. He was considered a heretic by the Church at the end of his life. But as is often the case, the Church reclaimed him much later when he was “rediscovered” again in the 19th century.
St. John of the Cross came from a family of Spanish “conversos”–Jews who were forced to become Christian–during the 16th century. He was a Carmelite friar who was a reformer, and not appreciated at all by the Church fathers. In fact, he was tortured and imprisoned by priests and brothers. Out of this savagery though came the moving friendship with St. Teresa of Avila and the work most know him by, “Dark Night of the Soul.”
Kaylin Haught is an Oklahoma poet, who is obscure by choice. So I couldn’t get much in the way of a biography of her. I hope that some day she will come out of this self-chosen privacy and share her poetry with us!
Derek Walcott‘s lineage extends to two continents–Africa and Europe. He is a Nobel Laureate from 1992. “Love After Love” comes from his Collected Poems 1948-1984.
Rabia was an Islamic saint and teacher of the Sufi tradition in the 8th century. She arrived on the scene 500 years before Rumi. And if you read her story, she was one of the very first feminists.
David Whyte is a native of England, who now lives in the United States. You can hear him on NPR’s “On Being” with Krista Tippett. This, is where we first discovered this luminous poet. “Sweet Darkness” comes from his collection of poetry entitled Fire in the Earth.
St. Francis of Assisi, born Francis Bernardone, was a beloved brother and saint of the 12th and 13th centuries. Often we forget that this gentle and peace-loving man started his career as a military man enlisting to serve the Pope during the Crusades. He did learn that the military was not for him and turned to serving the people and the church in a very different way.
Kabir was an Indian religious reformer in the 15th and 16th centuries, synthesizing Muslim, Christian and Hindu ideas. In his work, he “takes down” the superstitious, the proud and the delusional who were part of the religious establishment. He reminds us that God has a sense of humor!
Rumi was an Afghani that the whole world recognizes as the great master and teacher of the Sufi tradition. He lived in the 13th century. When you think of “whirling Dervishes”, Rumi is the one that comes to mind–he and his ecstatic teacher, Shams.
Emily Dickinson was a 19th century U.S. poet who became a recluse after attending Mount Holyoke College for a short time. She was strong-headed, brilliant and devoted to her family. Her works were published after her death in 1890.
Please see the masterful renderings and translations by Daniel Ladinsky, Coleman Barks and Robert Bly of Kabir, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, Rabia, Meister Eckhart and Rumi. Also, look for Roger Housden’s edited books of poetry. He has a fabulous eye and ear for poetry.
Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky
110 Poems of Love and Revelation, edited by Roger Housden
Rumi: The Book of Love by Coleman Barks
Kabir: Ecstatic Poems by Robert Bly