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    Shepherd's Avatar
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    In Search Of Poems On Darkness

    I will be offering a gathering on "Sweet Darkness" next month in Santa Fe that will be based on poetry, stimulated by David Whyte's poem "Sweet Darkness" that Larry Robinson sent out. I am looking for some more poems on darkness, either written by you or others. Please send me any titles, links, or actual poems that you may have for me to consider.

    I was asked recently to offer this event by a friend who lives there who heard that I was coming to vacation, so the idea is new and will evolve and change. Following is what I have come up with so far. It includes possible words for a flyer, a list of poems that I am studying, and a few fragments from those poems. My friend the artist Ross Lew Allen will combine some of these words with an image of his to produce an invitation.
    Thanks for any help,
    Shepherd, [email protected]

    Sweet Darkness—A Winter Gathering With Shepherd Bliss
    Dec. 17, Sun., afternoon

    Do you long for the light, especially at this time of year? Perhaps an acceptance of and journey into the darkness (the via negativa) may be in order. If you go down, enough, you are likely to come up, perhaps even into ecstasy. Darkness can be healing, instructive, and wise.

    This gathering will use the poetry of Rumi, Whitman, Mary Oliver, Rilke, David Whyte and others to explore darkness. We will consider how to embrace rather than reject darkness. Rather than base our journey on Aristotelian dualistic logic that something cannot be itself and its opposite, we will consider how everything that lives is itself and what appears to be its opposite—day/night, light/dark, good/bad, yin/yang, right/wrong, north/south, heads/tails, male/female.

    The universe is full of dark matter and dark energy, as is the inside of our bodies. This darkness—including invisible forces like gravity—provides our context and connects us to this Earth. Though invisible or dimly visible to humans, the darkness (to our eyes) beneath the surface and within the universe supports us.

    Together we will explore hynogogic consciousness—those few moments between sleep and being awake, which are so full of images and the imagination—as we travel between and betwixt. We will seek to develop our night eyes—nourished by the moon—and be less dependent upon the light and flashlights to see our ways during our Dark Time.

    Do not expect too much from this gathering. It will be what you bring and what you listen to and sense, nothing more. If you seek enlightenment, go elsewhere. This gathering will offer you endarkenment.

    Things to bring: your pain and fears, a poem on darkness, an open heart and willingness to listen actively.

    Shepherd Bliss, [email protected], is a retired college teacher who farms organically in Northern California. He spent the last three years teaching at the University of Hawai'i in Hilo in the Communication Department and as a contributing writer to the Hawai’i Island Journal. His specialty is the Oral Interpretation of Literature. He felt called to Hawai'i by Pele and then released to return home to the state of his birth to work at this turning point in the life of our threatened planet. Shepherd has contributed to 19 books, including three post 9/11 books most recently to "Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace," edited by Maxine Hong Kingston (

    Poems on Darkness
    Compiled by Shepherd Bliss, [email protected], additions welcome

    Wendell Berry, "To go in the dark…"
    "In the dark of the moon…"

    Shepherd Bliss, "Embrace the Dark"
    "Caves, War, & People"

    Robert Bly, "The grass is half-covered…"

    Johnny Cash, "Man in Black"

    Emily Dickinson, "After great pain…"

    Seamus Heaney from Sophocles, "The Cure"

    W.S. Merwin, "Listen"

    Pablo Neruda, "Si cada dia…"

    Michael Parmeley, "Meditation on Being a Baby-Killer"

    Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Man Watching"
    "You darkness…"

    Theodore Roethke, "In A Dark Time"

    Rumi, "The Darkness"

    Brad Sachs, "A Boy in the Bed in the Dark"

    May Sarton, "The Invocation to Kali"

    Walt Whitman, "To One Shortly to Die"
    "O Living Always, Always Dying"

    David Whyte, "Sweet Darkness"

    Poetry Fragments on Darkness

    Compiled by Shepherd Bliss, [email protected], additions welcomed

    "In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
    I meet my shadow in the deepening shade…
    Theodore Roethke, "In a Dark Time"

    Night cancels the business of day…
    Doesn’t the dark contain the water of life?
    Be refreshed in the darkness… Rumi

    To know the dark, go dark.
    Go without sight…
    And know that the dark, too,
    Blooms and sings
    And is traveled by dark feet and dark wings. Wendell Berry

    …without darkness
    Nothing comes to birth…

    Bear the roots in mind,
    You, the dark one, Kali,
    Awesome power. May Sarton, "Inovation to Kali"

    Time to go into the dark
    where the night has eyes
    to recognize its own.

    There you can be sure
    you are not beyond love.
    The dark will be your womb
    The night will give you a horizon
    further than you can see.
    David Whyte, "Sweet Darkness"
    Last edited by Barry; 11-22-2006 at 01:37 PM.
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