Three Poems To Read When Things Are Just Too Much
When things are too much, it sometimes helps to take a moment and turn to literature.
Writing, especially poetry, has a way of capturing the things we’re going through and allowing us to see things in a new way. It may not fix things, but it allows me to breathe — even just for a moment. Below are three of my favorite poems to read when my life seems too much to handle. I hope you enjoy them!
Hafiz: All the Hemispheres
My brother and I discovered Hafiz totally by accident in a bookstore we stopped by on a trip this past summer. I am so glad we did. Hafiz is a Persian poet who lived from 1350 to 1390. He “lauded the joys of love and wine but also targeted religious hypocrisy.” His works are regarded as a pinnacle of Persian literature. I love Hafiz because his poetry brings me back into my body and reminds me that I can return to stillness by connecting with my senses. I particularly love this poem because it contains the line, “Change rooms in your mind for a day,” which I interpret as a suggestion to regularly look at your life from new perspectives.
All the Hemispheres
Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out
Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadows and shores and hills.
Open up to the Roof.
Make a new water-mark on your excitement
Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
Upon our intimate assembly.
Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of
Mary Oliver: Wild Geese
Mary Oliver is an American poet from Ohio. She has won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. I love this poem, Wild Geese, because it reminds me that I am enough, just as I am.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Emily Dickinson: Hope is a Thing With Feathers
Emily Dickinson was an American poet who lived from 1830–1886. She was a recluse who wrote more than 1,800 poems throughout her lifetime, and is world-known for her talent and creativity. I like the poem below because of the way it reminds me that there is always hope, even when I can’t see or feel it.
“Hope” is a thing with feathers