Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Awakening

“If the book we are reading doesn't shake us awake like a blow to the head, why bother reading it in the first place?.... A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us." --Franz Kafka in a letter to Oskar Pollak dated January 27, 1904” ― Franz Kafka

My heart in your hands by Louise Docker 
 If you say to someone who has ears to hear: 
"What you are doing to me is not just," 
you may touch and awaken at its source
 the spirit of attention and love... ~ Simone Weil

“When one realises one is asleep, at that moment one is already half-awake.”
P.D. Ouspensky

Sculpture of the Buddha meditating under the Bodhi Tree, 800 C.E.

  Midweek Motif ~ Awakening

Awakening is more than waking after sleep, it involves coming to a realization that is personally transforming.  It may be rational, but more often the path is visceral, emotional or spiritual.  

Have you had an awakening?  

Where is one needed?

Take us there in today's poem. 

File:Frances MacDonald - The Sleeping Princess 1896.jpg
Frances MacDonald - The Sleeping Princess 1896

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?   
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?   
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,   
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?   
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do   
To you and me; so take the lively air,   
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.   
What falls away is always. And is near.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I learn by going where I have to go.


Excerpt from "To Begin With, the Sweet Grass"

by Mary Oliver
Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
    of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
    forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say—behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
    of this gritty earth gift.
Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
    are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
    thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.

And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.
. . . . 
What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
   though with difficulty.
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another).

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.
(Read the rest HERE 
or in Mary Oliver's book Evidence: Poems, Beacon Press, 2010.)
By Robert Bly
Inside the veins there are navies setting forth,
Tiny explosions at the waterlines,
And seagulls weaving in the wind of the salty blood.

It is the morning. The country has slept the whole winter.
Window seats were covered with fur skins, the yard was full
Of stiff dogs, and hands that clumsily held heavy books.

Now we wake, and rise from bed, and eat breakfast!
Shouts rise from the harbor of the blood,
Mist, and masts rising, the knock of wooden tackle in the sunlight.

Now we sing, and do tiny dances on the kitchen floor.
Our whole body is like a harbor at dawn;
We know that our master has left us for the day.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—

(Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Longing.)


  1. Good morning Susan and Poets United,
    This was a very powerful prompt and brought many thoughts about its possibilities.
    Thank you for enabling my personal response.
    Have a good week, Eileen

  2. Good Morning Poets United! I am substitute teaching today and so I may not get to you before 3. I'll try, though. ❤

  3. A very inspiring prompt Susan and thank you for the poems selected. A happy Wednesday to all


  4. Ah, Kafka. His quotes keep coming up to remind me to dive deeper. Thank you for adding this reminder, Susan.

    1. I'm glad that quote touched you. It seems a hard way to awaken!

  5. Hello everyone. I seemed to have disappeared forever. Thank you all for the wishes. I am recovering and my laptop is back home. Yay!!
    Thanks for the beautiful prompt Susan. Love the quotes and the poems, specially the Mary Oliver one.

    1. Yes, that Mary Oliver poem is rarely read all the way through, but it is worth it to read all of the parts. I am so glad you are back!

  6. Good Morning all- Susan thanks for hosting and an interesting prompt!

  7. Good morning, all. Thank you, Susan for serving up some fine inspiration. I especially like the Bly poem!

    1. I'm glad you like it. I hesitated to include it, because I wasn't sure I totally understood the last line--but someday, I will surely understand it all. Meanwhile, it draws me in.

  8. Thank you for the mid-week inspiration! I hope everyone is well. I am busy today but will get back to you all later to read and comment.

    1. Thank you, Toni. I look forward to you visit. I am in and out myself in this day with no leisure.

  9. Good morning, kids. It is sunny and beautiful on the west coast and I am sitting here dizzy as an old hooty-owl, but still tapping at the keys, because: poetry! LOL. Thanks, Susan, for the prompt. It stirs some thoughts.

  10. Warning: my poem is distressing to animal lovers. Please avoid if you don't want to feel horrible. Sigh. My apologies in advance to those brave enough to read.

  11. As so often, I feel I'm unlikely to get time to respond to this one. The next couple of days I'll be busy day and evening with various commitments (several of them to do with poetry in the offline world). Just stopped by to say I always love reading the Midweek Motifs even though I seldom participate. You (and Sumana when it's her turn) choose such wonderful poems to inspire us! Thank you.

    (PS just sent you a dm via Messenger on another matter.)

  12. I absolutely love the poem "The Waking" by Roethke! When I was a senior in high school, I had it memorized. It became almost like a prayer for me.

    1. I can imagine that! It's more a prayer than an answer, isn't it?

  13. Thanks for an inspiring prompt. I has a lots of ideas about the spiritual kind of awakening, but when sitting down to write, while the oldest did homework concerning the environment. My muse took me in that direction instead.

    1. I think environmental awakening is also spiritual. neat that you were inspired by one of your family.

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