A Great Poem Tells A Personal Story… Yours! (And I want to hear it!)

Conventional wisdom says it takes years for ideas, feelings and attitudes to change. No doubt, there is truth to that and it can be a depressing truth. Thankfully, it’s not always the case. There are exceptions… surprising, wonderful, even stunning exceptions.

I’m speaking of instances where something suddenly shifts. It is the ah-ha moment, where language mysteriously takes us beyond language. Where we step inside the poem to experience our own unique and personal story. The poem nails us exactly where we are, leaving us feeling that something profound and wise has been transmitted. We see things differently!

These sudden shifts remind us that while we humans may be able to grab knowledge, when it comes to wisdom, it grabs us.

Which brings me to my main request. When has a poem grabbed you?

When did a poem surprise, delight, shock and amaze you? What poem was it? Where were you? What happened? What new thing did you realize, understand or feel after experiencing the poem? Were the shifts related to your work or personal life? Do you still have and read the poem? Tell as many details as you can.

I would love you to share your story below in the comments so we can all benefit. Of course, if you prefer send it by email.

One example for me comes from a poem included in my newest book, Poetry For The Leader Inside You – A Search and Rescue Mission For The Heart and Soul.

This is a poem by the wonderful poet, teacher and speaker, David Whyte. I first heard this poem some years ago and have never been able to think of questions in quite the same way.

Suddenly many tiny but frightening requests came front and center for me. More than anything, I realized how much was a stake in my life by putting off answering such questions. I’ve read the poem many times. It has never left me.

Sometimes (By David Whyte)


if you move carefully

through the forest,



like the ones

in the old stories,


who could cross

a shimmering bed of leaves

without a sound,


you come

to a place

whose only task


is to trouble you

with tiny

but frightening requests,


conceived out of nowhere

but in this place

beginning to lead everywhere.


Requests to stop what

you are doing right now,



to stop what you

are becoming

while you do it,



that can make

or unmake

a life,


that have patiently

waited for you,



that have no right

to go away.

OK, now it’s your turn. I’m serious about wanting to know the poem or poems that have shifted your life in large or small ways. Don’t hold back. Every story helps us all. Every story that shows your courage to shift and change helps to bolster our collective courage to do the same.

Also, please send this blog to anyone in your community who you feel would enjoy answering this question. People who want to help all of us use this amazing tool called poetry for even more beautiful, practical, restorative and healing purposes.

Lastly, if you are around this coming Tuesday, January 30th at 1PM, please join me at the Marin JCC for a 90 minute discussion of my new book mentioned above. Here is the link again.

PS: I’ve been encouraged by the reception to my new book. If you want a signed copy click here. If you want to purchase the book from Amazon, click this link. Either way, I would be deeply grateful if you would make a comment on the Amazon web site. The most common response I get from those I tell about my work bringing poetry into the business world is “Wow, they need it!” Then immediately they say, “But how are you going to get their attention?” All I need is a recommendation and a chance to tell them the story and then pickle them with some great poetry and the rest takes care of itself. So please refer your favorite business leader and I’ll do the rest.

Poem printed with permission from Many Rivers Press, www. David Whyte, “Sometimes” from Everything Is Waiting For You, © 2003 Many Rivers Press, Langley, WA USA.

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