poems to nourish and comfort


This is a little book I made for myself called ‘poems for the journey’.  It occurred to me that others might find nourishment and comfort here too.  My favourite poets are represented: Mary Oliver, Jane Hirshfield, Annie Lighthart, John O’Donohue, Robert McDowell, and emerging poet Robert Cairns.  Here are a few of my favourites:

For Those Who Have Died

” ……To love to hope to dream, and oh, to lose.

…For your life has lived in me; Your laugh once lifted me; Your word was a gift to me.

‘Tis a human thing, love, A holy thing, To love what death can touch.”

extract from Judah Halevi ‘ For Those Who Have Died’

Judah Halevi was a 10th century Spanish Jewish physician, philosopher and poet.



Talking with the DeadTalking with the dead poem

“……The work of keeping you alive. Just as you
Constantly renewed yourself (and have again,
for all we know), I keep your lesson close:
Be open, honest, true; be rigorous and loyal,
But most of all be joyful in everything I say and do.

The world is shining even as we lose
The people, things, and scenes we cherish most.
Walking on the beach, my son whose middle name
Is yours collects stones and makes up stories for each one.
A life can be a model. I learned that much from you.”

extract from Robert McDowell. “Talking With the Dead.” Sewanee Review 117.1 (2009): 62-63.

For What Binds UsWhat binds us 2

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.


And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,


as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—


And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.


Jane Hirshfield, “For What Binds Us”  Of Gravity & Angels (Wesleyan University Press, 1988)