“Lost” by David Wagoner

Here’s a great poem – another that illustrates how the great poets are mystics pointing us beyond language, beyond our senses to a quieter knowing.  This comes from Collected Poems 1956-1976 © Indiana University Press.


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.


Poems for Personal Practice

I said to the wanting-creature inside me:

What is this river you want to cross?
There are no travelers on the river-road, and no road,
Do you see anyone moving about on that bank, or resting?
There is no river at all, and no boat, and no boatman.
There is no tow-rope either, and no one to pull it,
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford!

And there is no body, and no mind!
Do you believe there is some place that will make the soul less thirsty?
In that great absence you will find nothing.

Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
there you have a solid place for your feet,
Think about it carefully!
Don’t go off somewhere else!

Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things,
and stand firm in that which you are

Ecstatic Poems, versions by Robert Bly (Boston: Beacon, 2004), pp. 26-27.