Words of Wonder

Poems can be a doorway into another world. Each one, a simple arrangement of otherwise ordinary words, that together evoke presence, wonder, possibility. So here is an invitation to pause, let the words wash over you and glimpse the world they offer you…

It’s a growing collection, and we’d love to hear which ones resonate with you and why, and find out about your favourites.

Join us for regular updates to our ever growing collection, and if you’d prefer to see the poems as a simple alphabetical list, please click here.

With great gratitude to the poets who caught these words of wonder!

Featured Poem of the week

Balance - Jane Hirshfield

Balance – Jane Hirshfield

Balance is noticed most when almost failed of — in an elephant’s delicate wavering on her circus stool, for instance, or that moment when a ladder starts to tip but steadies back. There are, too, its mysterious departures. Hours after the dishes are washed and stacked, a metal bowl clangs to the floor, the weight…

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Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye

Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish. The loud voice is famous to silence, which knew it would inherit the earth before anybody said so. The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds watching him from the birdhouse. The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek. The idea you carry close to…

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zen poem by ryokan

Zen Poem by Ryokan

Like the little stream Making its way Through the mossy crevices I, too, quietly Turn clear and transparent. Ryokan   Sitting by this little babbling stream in my mind’s eye takes me back to times when I used to cycle out of Glasgow and into the countryside, stopping and sitting by a wee babbling burn…

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Mask - Dr Parween Pazhwak

Mask by Dr Parween Pazhwak

Mask Don’t give me consolation I’m ashamed of my tears Go without looking at me I don’t want you to find me weak Go And give me the opportunity To carve for my cheek A mask of stone To hide and seek.   Dr Parween Pazhwak (Afghanistan)   I recognise this feeling of exposed vulnerability…

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Today - Mary Oliver

Today – Mary Oliver

Today I’m flying low and I’m not saying a word I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep. The world goes on as it must, the bees in the garden rumbling a little, the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten. And so forth. But I’m taking the day off. Quiet as a feather. I hardly…

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Waiting - Leza Lowitz

Waiting – Leza Lowitz

You keep waiting for something to happen, the thing that lifts you out of yourself, catapults you into doing all the things you’ve put off the great things you’re meant to do in your life, but somehow never quite get to. You keep waiting for the planets to shift the new moon to bring news,…

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the shattering - jeff foster

The Shattering – Jeff Foster

Sometimes you don’t get to be a Buddha. Sometimes you just have to break. And feel. You have to lose your precious ‘spiritual awakening’. You just have to be a human being, feeling. Sometimes old pain resurfaces. Old fear. Sorrow. Trauma. The searing ache of the abandoned child. The rage of a forgotten universe. And…

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Not a day on any calendar – Rumi

My Life Is Not Mine— Give up wanting what other people have. That way you’re safe. “Where, where can I be safe?” you ask. This is not a day for asking questions, Not a day on any calendar. This day is conscious of itself. This day is a lover, bread, and gentleness, More manifest than…

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walk slowly

Walk Slowly – Danna Faulds

It only takes a reminder to breathe, a moment to be still, and just like that, something in me settles, softens, makes space for imperfection. The harsh voice of judgment drops to a whisper and I remember again that life isn’t a relay race; that we will all cross the finish line; that waking up…

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Enough - David Whyte

Enough – David Whyte

Enough. These few words are enough. If not these words, this breath. If not this breath, this sitting here. This opening to the life we have refused again and again until now. Until now. by David Whyte   A few simple words from the prolific poet David Whyte, often shared on the world wide web.…

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Hokusai Says by Roger Keyes

HOKUSAI SAYS By Roger Keyes Hokusai says look carefully. He says pay attention, notice. He says keep looking, stay curious. He says there is no end to seeing. He says look forward to getting old. He says keep changing, you just get more who you really are. He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself…

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Stay - Pema Chödrön

Stay – Pema Chödrön

Stay…stay…just stay. So whenever we wander off, we gently encourage ourselves to “stay” and settle down. Are we experiencing restlessness? Stay! Discursive mind? Stay! Aching knees and throbbing back? Stay! What’s for lunch? Stay! What am I doing here? Stay! I can’t stand this another minute! Stay! That is how we cultivate steadfastness. by Pema…

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A Winter Bluejay

Crisply the bright snow whispered, Crunching beneath our feet; Behind us as we walked along the parkway, Our shadows danced, Fantastic shapes in vivid blue. Across the lake the skaters Flew to and fro, With sharp turns weaving A frail invisible net. In ecstasy the earth Drank the silver sunlight; In ecstasy the skaters Drank…

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Gratefulness - Dale Biron

Gratefulness – Dale Biron

Each day the engine of my gratefulness must be coaxed and primed into action. Of course like any old clunker, it would just as soon stay put. For even after the labored start beats the inertia, and the plume of white smoke struggles upward, the same hills always appear, soaring daily—tall and ominous as before.…

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fall leaves fall

Fall, Leaves, Fall

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away; Lengthen night and shorten day; Every leaf speaks bliss to me Fluttering from the autumn tree. I shall smile when wreaths of snow Blossom where the rose should grow; I shall sing when night’s decay Ushers in a drearier day. Emily Brontë As I look out of my window,…

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Happiness cannot be found through great effort and willpower, but is already here, right now, in relaxation and letting go. Don’t strain yourself, there is nothing to do. Whatever arises in the mind has no importance at all, because it has no reality whatsoever. Don’t become attached to it. Don’t pass judgement. Let the game…

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Willing to experience aloneness, I discover connection everywhere; Turning to face my fear, I meet the warrior who lives within; Opening to my loss, I gain the embrace of the universe; Surrendering into emptiness, I find fullness without end. Each condition I flee from pursues me, Each condition I welcome transforms me And becomes itself…

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One Morning - Rosemerry Tromner

One Morning – Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

One morningwe will wake upand forget to buildthat wall we’ve been building,the one between usthe one we’ve been buildingfor years, perhapsout of some senseof right and boundary,perhaps out of habit. One morningwe will wake upand let our empty handshang empty at our sides.Perhaps they will rise,as empty thingssometimes dowhen blownby the wind.Perhaps they simplywill not rememberhow…

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Who turns? – Karen Maezen Miller

Who turns this into that? Sound into noise? Aroma into odor? Taste into pleasure or disgust? Who turns yes into no? Grace into disgrace? Who turns the present into the past? Who turns the now into the not-now? As-it-is into as-it-should-be? Silence into restlessness? Stillness into boredom? The ordinary into the menial? Who turns pain…

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Benedicto – Edward Abbey

Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a…

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Fear – Khalil Gibran

It is said that before entering the sea a river trembles with fear. She looks back at the path she has traveled, from the peaks of the mountains, the long winding road crossing forests and villages. And in front of her, she sees an ocean so vast, that to enter there seems nothing more than…

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Daisies - Mary Oliver

Daisies – Mary Oliver

It is possible, I suppose that sometime we will learn everything there is to learn: what the world is, for example, and what it means. I think this as I am crossing from one field to another, in summer, and the mockingbird is mocking me, as one who either knows enough already or knows enough…

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Lost – David Wagoner

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…

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Pandemic – Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it as the Jews consider the Sabbath— the most sacred of times? Cease from travel. Cease from buying and selling. Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world different than it is. Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life. Center down. And when…

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Do You Love Me – Rumi

Do You Love Me? A lover asked his beloved, Do you love yourself more than you love me?The beloved replied, I have died to myself and I live for you. I’ve disappeared from myself and my attributes. I am present only for you. I have forgotten all my learning, but from knowing you I have…

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Change – Kathleen Jessie Raine

Change Said the sun to the moon, You cannot stay. Change Says the moon to the waters, All is flowing. Change Says the fields to the grass, Seed-time and harvest, Chaff and grain. You must change said, Said the worm to the bud, Though not to a rose, Petals fade That wings may rise Borne…

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The Darkling Thrush – Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate When Frost was spectre-grey, And Winter’s dregs made desolate The weakening eye of day. The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires. The land’s sharp features seemed to be The Century’s corpse outleant, His crypt…

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Mistletoe – Walter de La Mare

Sitting under the mistletoe (Pale-green, fairy mistletoe), One last candle burning low, All the sleepy dancers gone, Just one candle burning on, Shadows lurking everywhere: Some one came, and kissed me there. Tired I was; my head would go Nodding under the mistletoe (Pale-green, fairy mistletoe), No footsteps came, no voice, but only, Just as…

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Autumn – John Clare

I love the fitful gusts that shakes The casement all the day And from the mossy elm tree takes The faded leaf away Twirling it by the window-pane With thousand others down the lane I love to see the shaking twig Dance till the shut of eve The sparrow on the cottage rig Whose chirp…

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Splendor – Thomas Centolella

One day it’s the clouds, one day the mountains. One day the latest bloom of roses—the pure monochromes, the dazzling hybrids—inspiration for the cathedral’s round windows. Every now and then there’s the splendor of thought: the singular idea and its brilliant retinue— words, cadence, point of view, little gold arrows flitting between the lines. And…

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Kingfisher – Robert Macfarlane

Kingfisher: the colour-giver, fire-bringer, flame-flicker, river’s quiver. Ink-black bill, orange throat, and a quick blue back-gleaming feather-stream. Neat and still it sits on the snag of a stick, until with… Gold-flare, wing-fan, whipcrack the kingfisher – zingfisher, singfisher- Flashes down too fast to follow, quick and quicker carves its hollow In the water, slings its…

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The Guest House – Rumi

“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes As an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honourably. He may be…

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Allow – Danna Faulds

There is no controlling life. Try corralling a lightning bolt, containing a tornado. Dam a stream and it will create a new channel. Resist, and the tide will sweep you off your feet. Allow, and grace will carry you to higher ground. The only safety lies in letting it all in – the wild and…

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Ash Tree – Mike Pratt

Let your eyes fall easy upon me, And gaze without intention or preconceived idea of what I am. My shape is not me, as yours is not you. There is more to it than that. More to it than meets the eye, or the precept. Think more of what I may be, of what I…

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Go In and In – Danna Faulds

Kristine has been providing us with her wonderful Words of Wonder.  Duncan and I are inspired by this and have decided to share some of our favourite poems, and those of our tutors and members too. This week we have a wonderful poem by Danna Faulds.  This was introduced to me at my very first…

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Grace - Alice Walker

Grace – Alice Walker

grace gives me a day too beautiful I had thought to stay indoors & yet washing my dishes straightening my shelves finally throwing out the wilted onions shrunken garlic cloves I discover I am happy to be inside looking out. This, I think, is wealth. Just this choosing of how a beautiful day is spent.…

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Today – Hafiz

I do not want to step so quicklyover the beautiful line on God’s palmas I move through earth’smarketplacetoday I do not want to touch any object in this worldwithout my eyes testifying to the truththat everything ismy Beloved Something has happenedto my understanding of existencethat makes my heart full of wonderand kindness I do notwantto…

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Daily – Naomi Shihab Nye 

These shriveled seeds we plant,corn kernel, dried bean,poke into loosened soil,cover over with measured fingertips These T-shirts we fold intoperfect white squares These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp stripsThis rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl This bed whose covers I straightensmoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanketand nothing hangs out…

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In the beginning – David Whyte

Sometimes simplicity riseslike a blossom of firefrom the white silk of your own skin.You were there in the beginningyou heard the story, you heard the mercilessand tender words telling you where you had to go.Exile is never easy and the journeyitself leaves a bitter taste. But then,when you heard that voice, you had to go.You…

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A prayer – Toyohiko Kagawa

I want to be ever a childI want to feel an eternal friendshipfor the raindrops, the flowers,the insects, the snowflakes.I want to be keenly interested in everything,with mind and muscle ever alert, forgetting my troubles in the next moment.The stars and the sea, the ponds and the trees,the birds and the animals, are my comrades.Though…

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Boundaries – Lynn Ungar

The universe does notrevolve around you.The stars and planets spinningthrough the ballroom of spacedance with one anotherquite outside of your small life.You cannot hold gravityor seasons; even air and waterinevitably evade your grasp.Why not, then, let go? You could move through timelike a shark through water,neither restless or ceasing,absorbed in and absorbingthe native element.Why pretend…

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Words – Shinkichi Takahashi

I don’t take your wordsMerely as words.Far from it. I listenTo what makes you talk – Whatever that is – And me listen. by Shinkichi Takahashi. Translated from the Japanese by Lucien Stryk & Takahashi Ikemoto I’m not sure how come, but I’ve had an unusual amount of rich conversations and deep heart-meetings this week. They’ve left…

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Don’t go outside – Kabir

Don’t go outside your house to see the flowers.My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.Inside your body there are flowers.One flower has a thousand petals.That will do for a place to sit.Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beautyInside the body and out of it,Before gardens and after gardens. by Kabir I was immediately…

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The Journey – David Whyte

Above the mountains the geese turn into the light again painting their black silhouettes on an open sky. Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that first, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in…

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The door – Miroslav Holub

  Go and open the door. ….Maybe outside there’s ….a tree, or a wood, ….a garden, ….or a magic city. Go and open the door. ….Maybe a dog’s rummaging. ….Maybe you’ll see a face, or an eye, or the picture ….of a picture. Go and open the door. ….If there’s a fog ….it will clear.…

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Mindful – Mary Oliver

  Every day ….I see or hear ……..something …………that more or less kills me ….with delight, ……..that leaves me …………like a needle in the haystack ….of light. ……..It was what I was born for – …………to look, to listen, to lose myself ….inside this soft world – ……..to instruct myself …………over and over in joy, …

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The way it is – Lynn Ungar

One morning you might wake up to realize that the knot in your stomach had loosened itself and slipped away, and that the pit of unfulfilled longing in your heart had gradually, and without your really noticing, been filled in—patched like a pothole, not quite the same as it was, but good enough. And in…

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Moon – Gregory Orr

  Has the moon been up there All these nights And I never noticed? A whole week with my nose To the ground, to the grind. And the beloved faithfully Returning each evening As the moon. Where have I been? Who has abandoned whom? by Gregory Orr   Yes, I can relate to this! When…

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Awakening now – Danna Faulds

The moment your eyes are open, seize the day. Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons? Would you deliver your litany of sins like a child’s collection of sea shells, prized and labeled? “No, I can’t step across the threshold,” you say, eyes downcast. “I’m not worthy, I’m afraid, and my motives aren’t pure.…

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It felt love – Hafiz

How did the rose Ever open its heart And give to this world All its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light Against its being, Otherwise, We all remain Too frightened by Hafiz   A little gem by Hafiz, simple and true. It reminds me how important that “encouragement of light” against my being is,…

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