Inspiration going into the week (a little late) – Anne Porter

I’ve been a little glum lately – nothing serious, just suffering under the weight of ordinary, daily cares. I’ve fallen into the trap of believing I’ll never be much more than a laundress, cook and child-rearer (as if those weren’t the most important of occupations.) Whenever I feel, at nearly 30, that my chance to accomplish anything great has passed me by, I read this astonishing poet, who didn’t publish her first book until she was in her eighties, and saw it nominated for a National Book Award. She is one of my favorites. The beauty and simplicity of her writing stop me in my tracks time after time.


When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother’s piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold

And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying

Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country

I’ve never understood
Why this is so

Bur there’s an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest

And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country

We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander.


Anne Porter, Living Things


One thought on “Inspiration going into the week (a little late) – Anne Porter

  1. Thanks for posting, Melissa. I’m going through a little something myself, and the poem was very inspiring for me. Aunt Kathy

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