Real Thirst, Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, Ivan M. Granger Real Thirst
Poetry of the Spiritual Journey

Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger

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The poems in Real Thirst are an exploration of the spiritual journey viewed through the mystic's eyes. This collection is a delightful blend of word and silence, presenting moments of contemplation punctuated with bursts of ecstatic insight.

Real Thirst combines original poems by Ivan M. Granger with new translations of works by visionaries from both East and West: John of the Cross, Francis of Assisi, Symeon the New Theologian, Hakim Sanai, Tukaram, Sarmad, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Vladimir Solovyov, Tulsi Sahib, and Antonio Machado.

Read More: Table of Contents + Sample Poetry + Poetry Notes + About the Author

“I found Real Thirst to be a slow, cool and refreshing drink. The deep singularity present within each poem, evokes a kind of felt suchness, and that is a real gift. I believe you will find these poems an antidote to the rush of your days.”
     ~ JOHN FOX author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making

Table of Contents
Introduction by Dorothy Walters

Surprised by the Sun
First Dawn
Every Shaped Thing
carried by the wind
Autumn's first snow
Snow all day
beneath the spring moon
rainy day
The Warbler Knows
Twelve Ways to Lose Your Head on Maui
Holy Ground
Thief of Hearts
No stars
Goodnight Moon
All You Gurus
There Is No Letting Go
How Can I Explain?
Day and Night
Mountain Peaks
games in a green field
white world
Too many nights
in love with the new sun
On the way
Adi Atman

Symeon the New Theologian
How is it I can love you
The fire rises in me
The Light of Your Way
Hakim Sanai
There is no place for place
Francis of Assisi
Prayer Before the Crucifix
John of the Cross
All men to me are god-like Gods
Every man who knows his secret
Bulleh Shah
One Thread Only
Sachal Sarmast
Friend, this is the only way
Vladimir Solovyov
Three Meetings (excerpt)
Tulsi Sahib
Within This Body
Antonio Machado


About the Author

“Ivan M. Granger has thrown open the doors of his body, heart and mind to the Infinite’s expressions of Itself in this world… These poems touch all the heart-strings. I laughed, I shed tears, I fell into contemplative states, I felt awe and wonder, love and longing as I read his offerings… You’ll want to return to this wellspring to quench your thirst over and over again.”
     ~ LAWRENCE EDWARDS, Ph.D. author of The Soul’s Journey: Guidance From the Divine Within and Kali’s Bazaar

Real Thirst, Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, Ivan M. Granger Real Thirst
Poetry of the Spiritual Journey
Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger

Real Thirst US
 Real Thirst UK Real Thirst CAN Real Thirst DER

Sample Poetry

First dawn. Even the
birds in the tallest pines are
surprised by the sun.


The parched know –

real thirst
draws rainwater
from an empty sky.

Every Shaped Thing

every shaped thing

Your altar
cannot seat
the thousand thousand

Holding them,
what do you have?

Each gilded god

"I am
by the sun.

I can only


Medusa says –

I was wisdom
black as night.

Now they call me:

So I hide
behind this hissing curtain
of hair.

little ones,
breathe easy;
you are free
to not see.

what is a lonely
old lady to do?

I still wait
for some daughter,
     some son,
so wounded by the world,
to seize these snakes
and part my locks wide.

I still wait
for some bold, tired
     wild child of mine,

determined to die
seeing what’s reflected
in my unblinking eye.

* Comments on this poem

“A delightful prism through which we see a delicate dance of fireflies and countless other wonders – poems, haiku and translations to illuminate the heart and the world.”
     ~ GABRIEL ROSENSTOCK author of Haiku Enlightenment

Real Thirst, Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, Ivan M. Granger Real Thirst
Poetry of the Spiritual Journey
Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger

Real Thirst US
 Real Thirst UK Real Thirst CAN Real Thirst DER

John of the Cross

1542 – 1591

John of the Cross was born Juan de Ypes in a village near Avila, Spain. His father died when he was young, and he was raised in poverty with his two brothers by his widowed mother. His intellectual gifts, however, were recognized by a patron who provided for his early education at a Jesuit school.

In his early 20s, John entered the Carmelite order and moved to Salamanca to further his studies. Among his other teachers was the well-known mystic and poet Fray Luis de Leon.

Still in his 20s, the young John of the Cross first met the woman who would become his mentor, Teresa of Avila, who was in her 50s at the time. Teresa of Avila was a mystic, a writer, a social activist, and the founder of several monasteries. She had begun a reform movement within the Carmelite Order, advocating a return to simplicity and the essential spirituality that should be at the heart of a monastic order. John of the Cross joined her movement of Discalced Carmelites and quickly became a leading figure himself.

Members of the unreformed Carmelites felt threatened by the critique from this new movement, and they turned to force, imprisoning and even torturing John of the Cross. He was held in a tiny cell in Toledo for nine months, until he escaped.

As terrible as this experience must have been, it was during his time of imprisonment that John's spirituality and poetry blossomed. The experience of losing everything, of being supremely vulnerable, seems to have brought John of the Cross to a profound state of openness and spiritual insight. One of his guards smuggled in scraps of paper, and John began to write poetry.

Free from prison, John continued his work with Teresa of Avila, founding new monasteries and advocating for their spiritual reforms. He spent the rest of his life as a spiritual director among the Discalced Carmelites.

His two best known works, the Spiritual Canticle and Dark Night of the Soul, are considered masterpieces of Spanish poetry and esoteric Christianity. Besides these, he wrote many other short poems, along with extensive commentaries on the meaning of his poetry as they relate to the soul's journey to God.

La Suma de la Perfección

Olvido de lo criado,
memoria del Criador,
atención a lo interior
y estarse amando al Amado
The Sum of Perfection

Creation forgotten,
Creator only known,
Attention turned inward
In love with the Beloved alone.


I was surprised by something I discovered a few years back: Medusa, the quintessential monster of Greek mythology, was originally a much loved goddess. Her name comes from the Greek word "metis" (related to the Sanskrit "medha") meaning "wisdom." Her worship is thought to have originated in Northern Africa and been imported into early Greek culture. She was black-skinned, wore wild, matted hair (with, of course, snakes), stood naked, wide-eyed, and embodied the mystery of woman, the wisdom of the night, the truths too profound or terrible to face in the daylight. Medusa is, in effect, a Mediterranean version of the Indian Goddess Kali. Medusa was eventually subsumed into the safer, patriarchal worship of Athena, who carries Medusa’s head upon her shield. This discovery inspired me to look at the figure of Medusa more deeply. What is the wisdom that terrifies? Why the snakes? Why the petrifying open-eyed stare? And how does such a bringer of terrible wisdom feel about being rejected by her children as a "monster"?

Thief of Hearts
Let's face it, from the ego's point-of-view, the relationship with the Divine is a problematic one. What the heart recognizes as liberation, the ego sees as theft. So what is the ego to do when that master thief...

Ivan M. Granger About the Author

Ivan M. Granger is the founder and editor of the Poetry Chaikhana, an online resource of sacred poetry from around the world. He has lived in Oregon, California, and Hawaii. He now makes his home in Colorado with his wife and two dogs.

"Poetry has an immediate effect on the mind. The simple act of reading poetry alters thought patterns and the shuttle of the breath. Poetry induces trance. Its words are chant. Its rhythms drumbeats. Its images become the icons of the inner eye. Poetry is more than a description of the sacred experience; it carries the experience itself.”

Read More About Ivan M. Granger

“Every page of this book is a luminous portal through the details of this world into the vastness of pure being. I will turn to these poems again and again for transport to the ineffable, for medicine to heal my restless mind, for a fierce and tender dose of the Beloved.”
     ~ KIM ROSEN, author of Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words

Real Thirst, Ivan M. Granger, Poetry of the Spiritual Journey

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