Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | January 23, 2014

Sweet Darkness

In the middle of the road of my life, I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost. ~ Dante – The Divine Comedy

The previous post was a wonderful poem by David Wagoner entitled Lost. In this excerpt from an interview with the poet David Whyte, he speaks about Wagoner’s poem and about how poetry has the power to act as a spiritual road map when we feel that we have lost our way upon our life-path. For Whyte, poets leave ‘footprints in the snow’; poems record the lessons learned by countless generations about what it means to be human, leaving clues as to how we survive the tough emotional terrain of those encounters with crisis. Whyte’s own poetry seeks to discover belonging in the uncertainty of living – to embrace the darkness and emptiness in order to uncover the gift that lies at its heart. For Whyte, these moments when the path disappears before us are the beginning stages of rediscovering a greater authenticity of self; they are the first steps in learning who we truly are and want we truly need to engage with our lives with depth and meaning.

To end, I leave you with one of Whyte’s own poems, Sweet Darkness from his book of poetry The House of Belonging:

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 recognise its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
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 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.


Responses

  1. This is the most powerful poetry I’ve read. My emotions were set free in the reading of it….and I cried. Thank you for sharing this Philip.

  2. Thanks for posting the poems. They have been very apropos to my current state of mind. Also, I have quite enjoyed your blog. You have added much to my appreciation of daily walks in the woods. Thanks again!

  3. Thank you for the two wonderful poems. David Whyte’s poem spoke to me very directly. ‘The dark will be your womb /tonight.’ What evocative words. Over the years I’ve learned to love the darkness, and when I’m away from the city and in the wilds, to let darkness wrap around me. To do this with inner darkness is essential too.

  4. ‘Give up other worlds except the one to which you belong’, I guess it means when we hit rock bottom its at such times that we re-find our way again. Something comes along to ground us, to remind us when we are out of sink with our own way that is right for us. Only if that is what I means. Just how does one know what the right world is? Most especially when everything depends on earning money and you know full well dashing off to work that life is passing by at such a pace.. feel awfully out of tune at times and know it

    • Dear Nicky, Once I had a very wise therapist who told me, “There are many times in life when you cannot control your circumstances, but you can[with a strong effort] control your inner world.” Every moment belongs to you, even in struggle and adversity. Better times!

  5. Lovely. Thank you.
    And a hug, Philip, if ever you read this.
    Vivian, of the Earth Sanctuary.
    🙂


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