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The Song of the Soul

Poetry is like the dream, always a step ahead of us. We fall in love with a poem well before we know what it means. Years later, after reading it a thousand times, maybe learning to recite it, it finally lands, before taking flight again in the sky of just feeling. A couple years later it settles once more, in a completely different way. Maybe poems come from the same country as dreams, where every character is exactly casted, perfectly costumed, in just the right room, to mean something as complex as the world itself, each stanza a lamp on the table that lights a way home.

The lark of this poem has landed in me in this way, for now. I'd recommend reading it twice before reading my wrap on it, then reading it another time. Might as well do that aloud. And my God go buy David Whyte's books.

The Song of the Lark, by David Whyte

The song begins and the eyes are lifted

but the sickle points toward the ground,

its downward curve forgotten in the song she hears.

While over the dark wood, rising or falling,

the sun lifts on cool air the small body of a singing lark.

The song falls, the eyes raise, the mouth opens

and her bare feet on the earth have stopped.

Whoever listens in this silence, as she listens,

will also stand opened, thoughtless, frightened by the joy she feels,

the pathway in the field branching to a hundred more, no one has explored.

What is called in her rises from the ground and is found in her body.

What she is given is secret even from her.

This silence is the seed in her of everything she is

and falling through her body

to the ground from which she comes,

it finds a hidden place to grow,

and rises and flowers in old while places.

where the dark edged sickle cannot go.


What if the world was calling to you, singing a beckoning song? If you are lucky, or listening, the song gathers your attention, as if your ears are an arm reaching toward your one wild and precious life. When you hear it, it is easy to forget who you are supposed to be. Even the best traditions, the most fruitful ones, dry up on the vine, and the tools of your harvest hang limp, suddenly useless, in your hand. When you hear that song, it becomes the only thing in the world, a chorus that seems to hum with the meaning of your life.

I'm talking about the song of the soul. That deep purpose for your life that defies, or perhaps transcends, whatever job your culture has assigned you. Soul is the evolutionary edge. It doesn't care for the cultivated. It is not concerned with the productivities of your culture. It sings of what is possible.

And what is possible is vast, magnificent, and terrifying. What soul asks of you stops your heart, stops your feet, stops your mind from wandering down any familiar path, suddenly lost, disoriented, but captivated. The world cracks open like a big bang, comes alive, becomes alluring, because you've heard the truth about you, and it is more beautiful than you ever imagined.

Like the lark's song, this one comes and goes. You hang on to the notes as long as you can. And wait in the silence, wanting, praying, trying to remember.

But it is less about remembering, or trying, and more about allowing. Your body a cell of the organ of the land of the organism of this planet. The instinct of life to make beauty, arising unbidden. Earth's dreaming through the human. Not your idea at all. Yet everything you are. The gift you are to life that lives through you. Seeded not by will, but by soma, the animal. The gift that grows into possibility out beyond whatever field the culture tends now. The evolutionary song of soul.



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