The Warbler Knows

by Ivan M. Granger

Original Language English

The warbler knows
only dawn's shaft
of light
on her breast.

Forgetting false future
suns, she sings

in no voice
but her own.

-- from Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, by Ivan M. Granger

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I know this feels like a difficult time for many of us. New Covid lockdowns as we approach the winter months, holidays that feel uncharacteristically isolated, a US presidential election that is over but without a smooth transition of power, and more economic uncertainties. Anxiety is high. Depression is not uncommon. Everyone is facing some form of struggle in this period. I would like to remind us all to be kind toward one another -- and kind toward ourselves. Compassion and being willing to help when we can will help us through.

It is useful to think of this period as a sort of doubled winter, an enforced time of inturning, reflection, and inner work. We can either exhaust ourselves by fighting the larger pattern or we can work with it, use it. This is a good time for meditation and rediscovering our purpose, so that, when the thaw comes, we can step out into the world renewed and strengthened.

Another important reminder is that even amidst the darkest days, the light we seek we carry within ourselves. The dark days are the best days to recognize that light, to tend to it and help it to grow.

So I thought today I would share a poem of light and renewal, one of my own poems...


Dawn is the flood of light that comes from the east which causes us to awaken. When we allow ourselves to become fully aware of this sacred state, we know nothing else, see nothing else; the spiritual dawn engulfs all, enlightening everything.

And we experience this state most strongly in the breast, a warming and radical opening and deep centering in the heart.

Utterly content in the eternal present, we forget the mind's endless fantasies and fears about the future. All the future ever can be is an extension of the present, and it is here, now that we reside -- always.

Recognizing this, we settle into silence, "no voice." Yet a song emerges from the stillness, nonetheless. The voice that sings is not the mind or the ego, but the presence quietly and eternally seated behind those fluctuating elements; it is the deeply familiar voice the true Self.


The poet Gabriel Rosenstock translated this poem into the Irish language --

Ní heol don cheolaire
ach maide gréine
an mhaidneachain
ar a brollach.

Dearúdann sí na bréag-ghrianta
a thiocfaidh, ní chanann

i nguth ar bith
ach ina guth féin.

Something about reading this poem in an unfamiliar language makes me smile. It's like seeing an old friend through new eyes.

Recommended Books: Ivan M. Granger

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics Diamond Cutters: Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania
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The Warbler Knows