A Great Shout of Joy Waiting to be Born


No one but me by the fire,
my hands burning
red in the palms while
the night wind carries
everything away outside.

All this petty worry
while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark
and intense
round every living thing.

What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.

What we strive for
in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
we desire,

what disturbs
and then nourishes
has everything
we need.

What we hate
in ourselves
is what we cannot know
in ourselves but
what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.

Even with summer
so far off
I feel it grown in me
now and ready
to arrive in the world.

All those years
listening to those
who had
nothing to say.

All those years
how everything
has its own voice
to make
itself heard.

All those years
how easily
you can belong
to everything
simply by listening.

And the slow
of remembering
how everything
is born from
an opposite
and miraculous

Silence and winter
has lead me to that

So let this winter
of listening
be enough
for the new life
I must call my own. 

Every sound
has a home
from which it has come
to us
and a door
through which it is going
out into the world
to make another home.

We speak
only with voices
of those
we can hear ourselves
and the body has a voice
only for that portion
of the body of the world
it has learned to perceive.

It becomes a world itself
by listening
for the way
it belongs.

There it can
how it
must be
and what
it must do.

in the tumult
of the night
I hear the walnut
above the child’s swing
its dark limbs
in the wind
and the rain now
come to
beat against my window
and somewhere
in this cold night
of wind and stars
the first whispered
opening of
those hidden
and invisible springs
that uncoil
in the still summer air
each yet
to be imagined

I listened to David Whyte recite this poem (on the CD set, “What to Remember When  Waking”) yesterday while on the treadmill at the gym.  I find the treadmill a great place for receiving wisdom.  There’s something about placing one foot in front of the other that puts me in a receptive state of mind.  David Whyte wrote this poem during a period of radical change in his life when he spent much time alone – his winter of listening, a time for establishing a relationship with the unknown.  On this CD he talks about destiny, and while he believes there is no preordained destiny, he maintains that each of us lives out our destiny, either in complete frustration or deep fulfillment.  Our path is not laid out for us but if we listen closely we can hear that “great shout of joy waiting to be born”, leading us to a new direction for our future, which is “like a bud inside us waiting to grow”.

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2 Responses to A Great Shout of Joy Waiting to be Born

  1. I was totally drawn into this poem, not recognizing the author at first. about three fourths of the way down, i recognized and image and breathed a deep sigh. Somewhere in me i Knew the weight and brilliance of his words. Thanks for printing it and bringing it to me tonight. it does make a difference to read the poem, rather than listen to it. Not that one is better than the other, but it sure is different. I want to listen to the part about preordained destiny, or not as is his belief. I’m not so sure about that. let’s talk in front of the kiva on some long night when we are together and ponder this.

  2. suellen1234 says:

    Yes, we will read and/or listen to his poetry and then discuss it. This poem is in “The House of Belonging”.xxooxx,SE

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