Friday, January 22, 2016

I Wish I'd Written This

The House of Belonging
By David Whyte

I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that

thinking for
a moment
it was one
like any other.

the veil had gone
from my
darkened heart
I thought

it must have been the quiet
that filled my room,

it must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,

this is the black day
someone close
to you could die.

This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between this world
and the next

and I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,

the tawny
close grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels of this housely
heaven ascending
through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

Title poem from the book of the same name, published 1997. Printed with permission from Many Rivers Press, 
© Many Rivers Press, Langley, Washington, USA.

David Whyte, an English poet living in the United States with dual citizenship, is also interested in philosophy and theology, in bringing poetry to wider audiences, and in exploring the role of creativity in business. Since 1986-7 he has devoted his life to these preoccupations via lecture tours, workshops, and his organisation Invitas: the Institute for conversational leadership. Conversational leadership is the subject of some of his (prose) books. Wikipedia tells us he has written four books of prose and seven volumes of poetry. 

It also tells us that, as a younger man, he studied Marine Zoology and in his twenties lived for a time in the Galapagos Islands. His work as a naturalist has included leading some anthropological and natural history expeditions in the Andes, the Amazon and the Himalayas.

You can find out more about him and his work at his own website, where you can also buy his books. In addition he has a comprehensive Amazon page which includes audio CDs. Besides the poetry, I am particularly intrigued by a book called  Consolations: the Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. (What poet isn't fascinated by words?) I had a peek with the 'Look inside' option at Amazon, and found myself at the word Alone, nicely synchronous with the poem I've chosen for you, and was hooked at the first paragraph – beautiful writing marrying the sound and sense of the word. 

I don't often like poems with very short lines. Too often they merely fragment the syntax, but in this one the meaning flows beautifully, enhanced by the line breaks (after the first two verses eased me into the way to read it).

What the poem says is arresting, an unusual viewpoint. As someone who is finally experiencing adult aloneness and in many ways liking it, I find it affirming.

You can hear him on YouTube reciting poems, delivering lectures and being interviewed – including this little dissertation on Belonging, which is interesting in conjunction with this poem.

Some of his poems – not this one! – seem to me a bit preachy, but always redeemed by their profundity of thought, and their music. As in this poem, he is also wonderful at conjuring up vivid images.

His facebook author page has many examples of his writings, both poetry and prose, and you can even discuss them with him or read discussions he has had with other people.

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. Absolutely lovely! I love the contradiction presented of the day in that you could meet your lover, or someone you know could die. I think that is a feeling we know all too well, ambivalent perspectives on what a day could hold.

    P.S. I wish I had written it too

  2. lovely poem! It struck poignant chords. :)

  3. Love pd this, Rosemary. Thanks for the intro.

  4. It is really nice to read this poem by David Whyte, Rosemary. I, too, find it affirming. I love his description of the temple of his adult aloneness. I also enjoyed the way the lines flowed down the page with the same golden syrupy feeling as the colour of the light he is describing.......and the richness of the feelings he experienced.Thanks for this wonderful offering, my friend.

  5. What a wonderful poem! The short lines are like snapshot thoughts.Love the simplicity with the underlying depth. 'There is no house like the house of belonging.' I love this poet. Best thing I've read in ages.It inspires me to write better.Thank you for the intro to David Whyte, Rosemary...

  6. you've selected a wonderful poem of David Whyte...thanks for the introduction Rosemary...

  7. Thanks Rosemary for introducing us to David. I went to his site to look at more details about him.

  8. Rosemary, this is one of my favorite poems of those you have shared. I am sorry I am late in commenting on it, but life got in the way! I DO very much like the short lines, as in this poem they work to get across the you said. And really he made me think about thinking about the day we have in front of us. Something good could happen or something bad. And, at the end...."There is no house like the house of belonging." So very true! REALLY a wonderful share!

  9. I like this poem for several reasons, foremost being the seamless way the poet gives us the practical, the personal and even the metaphysical insight into his own experience. It flows beautifully.


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