Tuesday, January 3, 2012

That Fierce Embrace

David Whyte, author of the poem included below, "Self-Portrait", relates how he wrote this poem in Amsterdam, after visiting the Van Gogh Museum, and looking at some of the artist's self-portraits. "I was struck," David says, "by how the artist looked into the mirror, hence into our image, without a trace of self pity. I returned to my hotel, determined to see if I could write a poem expressing the same qualities I saw in Van Gogh's eyes. When I dropped into the poem, and the image came up, I was surprised at the first line I wrote down." As was I, when I first heard the poem.

For me, the question is about living authentically. Can I look Life in the Eyes, without recoiling or seeking escape? Am I ready to be defeated, perhaps more than once? Can I fall into Life and therefore towards what I long for? Can I speak quietly, saying "This is Who I am." Can I look the fierce and flying owl directly in the eyes, even as he swoops to attack?

If we can, we will touch God.

From nakedcapitalism.com


It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have been told, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

By David Whyte

From Fire in the Earth

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