Monday, January 2, 2012

The whole World

"Be silent now.
Say fewer and fewer praise poems.
Let yourself become living poetry."

~ Rumi

"A wealth you cannot imagine
flows through you.

Do not consider what strangers say.
Be secluded in your secret heart-house,
that bowl of silence.

Talking, no matter how humble-seeming,
is really a kind of bragging.

Let silence be the art 
you practice."


Coleman Barks, in Rumi: Bridge to the Soul, says that Rumi closes over 500 poems with a mention of silence.  Barks says, "sometimes it is felt as a waiting for a new way of speaking to begin..."

In the noise of the holidays, I had been thinking quite a lot about silence. And this article by Pico Iyer "The Joy of Quiet" is being posted and reposted on Facebook. I'd been thinking about kinds of silence, quiet, when I came across this poem by Billy Collins titled "Silence." I particularly liked thinking about the silence of orchids, and the stillness of a cup and the stillness of the water in it.  

And then, there is this poem, titled "In Silence" by Thomas Merton:

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your

to the living walls.

Who are you?
are you? Whose
silence are you?

Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.

be what you are (but who?)
be the unthinkable one
you do not know.

O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you

speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the unknown
that is in you and in themselves.

“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a man be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”

What can I say to you after that?  The whole world is secretly on fire.  Listen!  Be still!


  1. Takes a lot of strength to be still......but how peaceful a state that would be....trying..... :-)
    A blessed New Year to you Shawna. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work xx

  2. i absolutely
    LOVE your posts!!!


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