"Whyte fits in with Gary Snyder and with John Haines as poets who work the matter of their poems as if they were working with natural objects - they model the poem on the wisdom of the earth. The poet's questions of faith are always answered by the constant presence of sheer beauty in the world. This presence matters above all else. Reading David Whyte's poetry is an act of presence - afterwards the mind is ready to accept the complicated beauty of life."
                                                                                         - Bloomsbury Review

Fire

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OPEN

It is a small step to remember
how life led to this
moment's hesitation.

How the door to the deeper world
opens, letting the body fall at last,
toward the few griefs it can call its own.

Oh yes, I know. Our wings catch fire
in that downward flight
and we come to earth afraid
we can never fly again.

But then we always knew
heaven would be a desperate place.
Everything you desired coming
in one fearful moment
to greet you.

Your full presence only in rest
and the love that asks nothing.
The rest where you lie down
and are no longer found at all.


NEVER ENOUGH

It is never enough. The three riders
arrive with gifts. The woman brings food.
The child looks with admiring eyes.

Something else is triggered. He hears
unaccountably the voice of someone he knew.
He pulls back the curtain. No one.
At night he opens his depths
and dreams. He will not appear.
He turns to the old part of himself
known since a boy. Gone.
The door open in the night wind
and on the oak table a note.
"I am to be trusted but you are not".

He remembers everything he can. His face.
His hands. The way he would rise as if to speak.
Oblivion begins to pull on its long shroud.
He has one moment before panic.
His voice ready to pounce on death
unsheathes its secret claws. His hour.
His place. His voice with its new sound.
A bunched animal cornered by stealth.

Then someone gets up, closes the door,
begins to speak.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

FIRE IN THE BODY

Millennium
Fire In the Earth
What It Means to be Free
Self-Portrait
Waiting on the Steppes
Traveling to London
the Eldership of Praise
The Painter's Hand
This Time
Never Enough
You Darkness

FIRE IN THE VOICE

The Soul Lives Contented
Revelation Must be Terrible
In the Beginning
The Fire in the Song
The Careful Stone of my Voice
The Sound of the Wild
The Husk of Your Voice
The Poet
The Body in Full Presence
No One Told Me
Horse in Landscape: Franz Marc
Second Birth
The Old Wild Place
Unutterable Name

FIRE IN THE QUIET

Sitting Zen
Again
Imagine My Surprise
Open
We Shall Not be Here
Death Waits
Midsummer Prayer
The Half Turn of Your Face

FIRE IN THE MOUNTAINS

This Poem A Prayer Flag
Takstang
Mountain Fever
The Old Interior Angel
Statue of Buddha
Statue of Shiva
Here in the Mountain