Not many people know this about me, but I took a poetry-writing course when I was in college. It was my senior year and I was looking for an elective to take. I saw the poetry writing course and figured, why not?
There was actually a second course which was by invitation only. And the professor actually saw enough talent in my poems to invite me to be part of the course!
I didn’t sign up however. It was my last semester of college and I knew the course would be a lot of work. Plus, I was a psychology major so there was limited value in taking another poetry-writing class.
I also think that while I have the heart and soul of a poet, I don’t really have a talent. I may have been one of the better poets in my class, but there were two students in the class whose poems were far better than anything I could do.
Still, I can definitely appreciate a good poem, one that opens me up, connects with me in a deep way, challenges me, and lets me see the world from a new perspective.
So I’m sharing three of my favorite inspirational poems with you. These are all ones that hit me hard, that for me illuminate the path for what really matters in life. I hope you enjoy them!
Feel free to comment below on which was your favorite and/or share one of your favorite poems.
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Dies Slowly by Martha Medeiros
He who becomes the slave of habit,
who follows the same routines every day,
who never changes brand,
who does not risk and change the color of his clothes,
who does not talk to people he doesn’t know
He who makes television his guru
He or she who shuns passion,
who prefers black on white,
and the dots on the “i” to a whirlpool of emotions,
precisely those that recover the gleam of the eyes,
smiles from the yawns,
hearts from the stumbling and feelings
He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy,
who is unhappy at work,
who does not risk certainty for uncertainty,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives,
He who does not travel,
who does not read,
who can not hear music,
who does not find grace in himself,
He who slowly destroys his self love,
who does not allow himself to be helped,
who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck,
about the rain that never stops,
He or she who abandon a project before starting it,
who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn’t know,
he or she who don’t reply when they are asked something they do know,
Let’s avoid death in small doses,
reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.
Only a burning patience will lead
to the attainment of a splendid happiness.
The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.