Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
to gather us up.
We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty.
If we say we can, we’re lying.
If we say No, we don’t see it,
That No will behead us
And shut tight our window onto spirit.
So let us rather not be sure of anything,
Beside ourselves, and only that, so
Miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.
Image from American Vogue, January 2011
I’ve had this poem saved on my computer for years, I can’t remember where I found it and I always vaguely thought it was by some semi-obscure contemporary poet. My bad! It’s actually by Rumi, a renowned Persian poet and philosopher from the 13th century.
“I Have Been Tricked By Flying Too Close” – Rumi
Now the candleflame is out, the wine spilled,
and the lovers have withdrawn
somewhere beyond my squinting.
The amount I thought I’d won, I’ve lost.
My prayers become bitter and all about blindness.
How wonderful it was to be for a while
with those who surrender.
Others only turn their faces one way,
then another, like a pigeon in flight.
I have known pigeons who fly in a nowhere,
and birds that eat grainlessness,
and tailors who sew beautiful clothes
by tearing them to pieces.
I’ve just done some light research on him tonight, and found many more beautiful poems and quotes as well. He reminds me of Leonard Cohen (I know that seems gratuitous, given L.Co is the only poet I’ve read much of in years, but I will stand by it & take what flack may come!). If you feel like browsing some of his writings, his WikiQuote page is a good place to start…
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving – it doesn’t matter,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times,
Come, come again, come.