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Mystics and Poets Leave Us Love Songs

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!

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Three Poems and a Minimum of Three Truths

Time to slow the mind down and listen.  Poetry will do the trick.  Let the three poets and their poems Lee Ann chose for this week’s podcast welcome you into their world (which is YOUR world) and lead you to some beautiful, life-affirming and kick-butt conclusions.  Or maybe not even conclusions at all, but entry points for living full and rich days.

The three poems in this episode are Maya Angelou’s “A Brave and Startling Truth,” Kobayashi Issa’s “Cricket” and Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Famous.”  If you’d like, you may follow along as the poems are found below, along with links to the books where they are found.

A Brave and Startling Truth — Maya Angelou


When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.


Ms. Angelou’s poem may be found in her collection, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer.


Cricket — Kobayashi Issa


On a branch

Floating down river

A cricket, singing.


Jane Hirshfield translated Issa’s poem and others in her book, Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women.


Famous — Naomi Shihab Nye


The river is famous to the fish.


The loud voice is famous to the silence,

Which knew it would inherit the earth

Before anybody said so.


The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds

Watching him from the birdhouse.


The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.


The idea you carry close to your bosom

Is famous to your bosom.


The boot is famous to the earth,

More famous than the dress shoe,

Which is famous only to floors.


The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it,

And not at all famous to the one who is pictured.


I want to be famous to shuffling men,

Who smile while crossing streets,

Sticky children in grocery lines,

Famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,

Or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,

But because it never forgot what it did.


You will definitely want to see this illustrated version of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, Famous. (I love this so much I am sharing it for the holidays and birthdays this year!)


Don’t forget that you can reach out to Lee Ann (me) with comments, questions or ideas for the podcast at leeann@hoorayliving.com.   We welcome your thoughts here at Hooray Weekly!

And as always, remember, I love you!  I really, REALLY love you.



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