David Whyte: Essentials

March 23, 2020

 

"Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet

confinement of your aloneness

to learn

anything or anyone

that does not bring you alive

is too small for you."

 

If you are craving some soul food, Essentials, a collection of poems by David Whyte, has all the necessary ingredients. His poetry offers sweet tastes of blue notes as you read and explore the sublime and often melancholic nature of being human. 


It is said that "The Blues" is a big house. Whyte's blues are infused with an Irish spirit. It may be a result of our shared roots, but I feel an inexplicable connection to his work. His notes strike my need to question as an answer. 

 

I came to know David Whyte through a podcast entitled the Conversational Nature of Reality hosted by Krista Tippett of On Being. David's thoughts on life and poetry were so engaging that while listening I ordered second and third helpings; by rewinding and listening again and again. The experience compelled me to purchase Essentials so I could revisit his words.

 

Below are a few poems from the Essentials collection. You can learn more about David Whyte and his poetry at www.davidwhyte.com.

“Sweet Darkness”

 

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 home

tonight.

 

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

to learn

 

anything or anyone

that does not bring you alive

 

is too small for you.

 

Click here to listen to him read his poem, Sweet Darkness.

 

 

"The Bell and the Blackbird"

 

The sound of a bell
Still reverberating,
or a blackbird calling
from a corner of the field,
asking you to wake
into this life,
or inviting you deeper
into the one that waits.

Either way
takes courage,
either way wants you
to be nothing
but that self that
is no self at all,
wants you to walk
to the place
where you find
you already know
how to give
every last thing
away.

The approach
that is also
the meeting
itself,
without any
meeting
at all.

That radiance
you have always
carried with you
as you walk
both alone
and completely
accompanied
in friendship
by every corner
of the world
crying
Allelujah.

 

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