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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

The sun of the first day
Put the question
To the new manifestation of life —
Who are you?
There was no answer.
Years passed by.

The last sun of the last day
Uttered the question
on the shore of the western sea,
In the hush of evening —
Who are you!
No answer came.

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Buttercup walk by Alex J White. Inspired by this poem from Willow Harth.
Buttercup walk by Alex J White. Inspired by this poem from Willow Harth.
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You don’t read or overhear the voice in the poem, you are the voice in the poem.
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All others talked as if
talk were a dance.
-

Denise Levertov, from "Caedmon"

Thanks to Phip Ross for sending me this lovely poem.

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Poetry prevents everybody from feeling lonely.
- Nikki Giovanni, from The Read Around
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The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life…the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds, and join in the general dance.
-

Thomas Merton, from New Seeds of Contemplation

Picked up this killer quotation from a comment on our Facebook page. People are amazing.

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"When Death Comes" by Mary Oliver

As you read this poem, ask yourself a simple question and take some time to ponder it: "How, then, shall I live?"

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited the world.

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The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

- Elizabeth Bishop, from "One Art"
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I dwell in Possibility – A fairer House than Prose – More numerous of Windows – Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars – Impregnable of eye – And for an everlasting Roof The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest – For Occupation – This – The spreading wide my narrow Hands To gather Paradise –
~Emily Dickinson
I dwell in Possibility – A fairer House than Prose – More numerous of Windows – Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars – Impregnable of eye – And for an everlasting Roof The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest – For Occupation – This – The spreading wide my narrow Hands To gather Paradise –
~Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

~Emily Dickinson

Tagged: #poetry
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There is religion in everything around us
A calm and holy religion
In the unbreathing things in Nature
It is a meek and blessed influence
Stealing in as it were unaware upon the heart
It comes quickly, and without excitement,
It has no terror, no gloom.
It does not rouse up the passions,
It is untrammeled by creeds
It is written on the arched sky,
It looks out from every star,
It is on the sailing cloud, and in the invisible wind
It is among the hills and valleys of the earth
Where the shrubless mountain-top pierces the thin atmosphere
of eternal winter
Or where the mighty forest fluctuates before the strong wind
With its dark waves of green foliage.
It is spread out like a legible language upon
the broad face of an unsleeping ocean.
It is the poetry of nature
It is that which uplifts the spirit within us
And which opens to our imagination a world of spiritual beauty and holiness.
~John Ruskin
Photo by Justin Kern
There is religion in everything around us
A calm and holy religion
In the unbreathing things in Nature
It is a meek and blessed influence
Stealing in as it were unaware upon the heart
It comes quickly, and without excitement,
It has no terror, no gloom.
It does not rouse up the passions,
It is untrammeled by creeds
It is written on the arched sky,
It looks out from every star,
It is on the sailing cloud, and in the invisible wind
It is among the hills and valleys of the earth
Where the shrubless mountain-top pierces the thin atmosphere
of eternal winter
Or where the mighty forest fluctuates before the strong wind
With its dark waves of green foliage.
It is spread out like a legible language upon
the broad face of an unsleeping ocean.
It is the poetry of nature
It is that which uplifts the spirit within us
And which opens to our imagination a world of spiritual beauty and holiness.
~John Ruskin
Photo by Justin Kern

There is religion in everything around us

A calm and holy religion

In the unbreathing things in Nature

It is a meek and blessed influence

Stealing in as it were unaware upon the heart

It comes quickly, and without excitement,

It has no terror, no gloom.

It does not rouse up the passions,

It is untrammeled by creeds

It is written on the arched sky,

It looks out from every star,

It is on the sailing cloud, and in the invisible wind

It is among the hills and valleys of the earth

Where the shrubless mountain-top pierces the thin atmosphere

of eternal winter

Or where the mighty forest fluctuates before the strong wind

With its dark waves of green foliage.

It is spread out like a legible language upon

the broad face of an unsleeping ocean.

It is the poetry of nature

It is that which uplifts the spirit within us

And which opens to our imagination a world of spiritual beauty and holiness.

~John Ruskin

Photo by Justin Kern

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"And you—what of your rushed and useful life? Imagine setting it all down— papers, plans, appointments, everything— leaving only a note: “Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through blooming.”


~Lynn Ungar’s poetic words in this essential bit of wisdom from Parker Palmer.

Photo by Charles Knowles

"And you—what of your rushed and useful life? Imagine setting it all down— papers, plans, appointments, everything— leaving only a note: “Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I’m through blooming.”


~Lynn Ungar’s poetic words in this essential bit of wisdom from Parker Palmer.

Photo by Charles Knowles

"And you—what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down—
papers, plans, appointments, everything—
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through blooming.”

~Lynn Ungar’s poetic words in this essential bit of wisdom from Parker Palmer.

Photo by Charles Knowles

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I’m mesmerized by this robot that writes slow meandering poetry out of sand. Brings a whole new meaning to the impermanence of language and art.

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""First you must know that the whole of the physical world floats in each of the senses at the same time. Each of them reveals to us a different aspect of the kingdom of change. But none of them reveals the unnameable stillness that unites them. At the heart of change it lies unseeing, unhearing, unfeeling, unchanging, holding within itself the beginning and the end. It is ours. It is our only possession." —W.S. Merwin
In this week’s show physicist Brian Greene asks us to let go of our attachment to our perceptions and reimagine the world through the lens of mathematics. It’s hard to imagine, let alone accept. But this quote from the poet W.S. Merwin reminds me that there is a hiddenness and a mysticism in the unknowing, a resting place in the unnameable stillness.
Perhaps a poet and a physicist are not so different.
""First you must know that the whole of the physical world floats in each of the senses at the same time. Each of them reveals to us a different aspect of the kingdom of change. But none of them reveals the unnameable stillness that unites them. At the heart of change it lies unseeing, unhearing, unfeeling, unchanging, holding within itself the beginning and the end. It is ours. It is our only possession." —W.S. Merwin
In this week’s show physicist Brian Greene asks us to let go of our attachment to our perceptions and reimagine the world through the lens of mathematics. It’s hard to imagine, let alone accept. But this quote from the poet W.S. Merwin reminds me that there is a hiddenness and a mysticism in the unknowing, a resting place in the unnameable stillness.
Perhaps a poet and a physicist are not so different.

""First you must know that the whole of the physical world floats in each of the senses at the same time. Each of them reveals to us a different aspect of the kingdom of change. But none of them reveals the unnameable stillness that unites them. At the heart of change it lies unseeing, unhearing, unfeeling, unchanging, holding within itself the beginning and the end. It is ours. It is our only possession."
W.S. Merwin

In this week’s show physicist Brian Greene asks us to let go of our attachment to our perceptions and reimagine the world through the lens of mathematics. It’s hard to imagine, let alone accept. But this quote from the poet W.S. Merwin reminds me that there is a hiddenness and a mysticism in the unknowing, a resting place in the unnameable stillness.

Perhaps a poet and a physicist are not so different.

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Walter Brueggemann was such a kind, generous person to meet and witness in studio. And, on this Christmas day, I can think of few theologians I’d rather listen to talk about the poetic imagination and the prophetic tradition in Christianity than Mr. B.

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Veterans Day Parade on Woodward Avenue

For Rachel Button, who hails from metro Detroit but now lives in the state of Washington’s North Cascade Mountains, images of a Veterans Day parade on Woodward Avenue in Detroit remind her of the march that often goes unacknowledged. Specifically, Eric Seals photographs for the Detroit Free Press inspired her to write this poem:

You wanted the poor and tired huddled masses—
the slack-jawed and stubbled—
but we march alone on Woodward
uniforms stiff on our still-broad shoulders,

The Free Press took pictures.
Photos of men,
mostly men,
marching a street edged by empty sidewalks,
black men and white men
some of us in leather and flannel
others in uniforms which trim our bodies
into silhouettes framed by brass buttons.

Imagine the hands at our sides:
wrinkled, smooth, freckled, gloved—
scarred by cuts and burns, scrapes and time—
hands that held babies,
hands that held our heads when loneliness
felt too heavy to hold on our necks.

We bend into cold with something like pride
not for the battles we fought,
but because we’re still standing, walking, moving,
together, slapping our shoes on Woodward,
standing straight, even if not one soul watches.

For an engaging and informative read, I highly recommend John Carlisle’s columnaccompanying Mr. Seals photos.

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