Thursday, September 27, 2012


And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.
And he answered:
Where shall you seek beauty, and how
shall you find her unless she herself be your
way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except
she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, 
"Beauty is kind and gentle.
Like a young mother half-shy of her
own glory she walks among us."
And the passionate say, "Nay, beauty is
a thing of might and dread.
Like the tempest she shakes the earth
beneath us and the sky above us."

The tired and the weary say, "Beauty is
of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint
light that quivers in fear of the shadow."
But the restless say, "We have heard her
shouting among the mountains, 
And with her cries came the sound of
hoofs, and the beating of wings and the
roaring of lions."

At night the watchmen of the city say,
"Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the 
And at noontide the toilers and wayfarers
say, "We have seen her leaning over
the earth from the windows of the sunset."

In winter say the snow-bound, "She shall
come with the spring leaping upon the hills."
And in the summer heat the reapers say,
"We have seen her dancing with the autumn
leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her
All these things have you said of beauty, 
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of
needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty
hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.  

It is not the image you would see nor the
song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you 
close your eyes and a song you hear though
you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark,
nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and
a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when
life unveils her holy face. 
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.  

Kahlil Gibran 
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


You are woken in the night
by something that cannot speak
in daylight, that has no purchase
in the hard currency of your life.

Outside is the shallow well
of a sleeping town; electric lights
peek faintly into black space,
and the lithe ghost of the dark

slips into the only house that
bids it welcome.  Your husband
lies snoring, dreams of another
world, offers you rough the gift

of aloneness:  Know this
what arrives here cannot
be other than itself, and
has no care for you.  It

has no words, and no respect
for yours, so finds your body,
colonises your spine, feeds
you up into the sea of stars.  You

may think you are changing,
or hope; but you are simply
failing to forget, allowing
stillness to be recognized.

You are momentarily disappearing,
to enter your own voice, see
with your own eyes, become
 the body you gave birth to;

you have returned to
your own faithfulness,
your own unimaginable

Andrew Colliver
via Poetry Chaikhana
Photo:  Peter Bowers

...content with not-knowing

(The Master) lets the confused
stay confused
if that is what they want
and is always available
to those with a passion for the truth.

In the welter of opinions
She is content with not-knowing.

She makes distinctions
but doesn't take them seriously.

She sees the world constantly breaking
apart, and stays centered in the whole.

She sees the world endlessly changing
and never wants it to be
different from what it is.  

Adapted by Stephen Mitchell
Photo:  Peter Bowers


Then a priestess said, Speak to us of Prayer.
And he answered, saying: 
You pray in your distress and in your need; 
would that you might pray also in the fullness 
of your joy and in your days of abundance.

For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself
into the living ether?
And if it is for your comfort to pour your
darkness into space, it is also for your 
delight to pour forth the dawning of your heart.

And if you cannot but weep when your 
soul summons you to prayer, she should spur
you again and yet again, though weeping,
until you shall come laughing.

When you pray you rise to meet in the 
air those who are praying at that very hour,
and whom save in prayer you may not

Therefore let your visit to that temple invisible
be for naught but ecstasy and sweet communion.

For if you should enter the temple for no 
other purpose than asking you shall not receive:

And if you should enter into it to humble 
yourself you shall not be lifted:

Or even if you should enter into it to
beg for the good of others you shall not be heard.

It is enough that you enter the temple invisible.

I cannot teach you how to pray in words.
God listens not to your words save when 
He Himself utters them through your lips.
And I cannot teach you the prayer of the 
seas and the forests and the mountains.
But you who are born of the mountains
and the forests and the seas can find their
prayer in your heart.
And if you but listen in the stillness of the 
night you shall hear them saying in silence,
"Our God, who art our winged self, it 
is thy will in us that willeth.
It is thy desire in us that desireth.
Is is thy urge in us that would turn our
nights, which are thine, into days which are 
thine also.

We cannot ask thee for aught, for thou
knowest our needs before they are born in us:
Thou art our need; and in giving us more
of thyself thou givest us all."

Kahlil Gibran 
Photo:  Peter Bowers