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« Congratulations Heather McHugh - 2009 MacArthur Foundation Grant Recipeint | Main | Tripping [by Jennifer Michael Hecht] »

September 23, 2009


One of my favorites. I don't know what the (1999) implies after David Wagoner's name above. The poem was written well before that. I first read it in the late 1980's.

Terry, I've just realised that the '1999' reference is in relation to when his book, 'Travelling Light - Collected and New Poems' was published.

thank you for this.

It was published in 1971.

I hate it, so condescending, I’d stay lost, thankfully art is one thing open to personal criticism, it’s just personal

Nature is always condescending. The way it keeps human arrogance in check.

Beautifully said Jill.

Thanks for the info. The page in POETRY magazine is truly beautiful.

no one asked

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you .................... tripping , lol ...


haha. I like you Jill. I agree.

Condescension is at least half created by the perceiver; and conflict, the process of consummation.

Hey Sarah, I dont disagree with you, nor do I want to convince you.
But I think "staying lost", and to be brazen, is exactly what the poem is suggesting in a practical sense.

That we're all lost, in the sense of exploring an unknown world, and while we love this freedom, we get scared when we realize we may be all alone in our journeys.
And in that moment, Mr. Wagoner suggests, don't be afraid and don't feel lost.

Everything around you is welcoming you and awaiting for your request to invite it in.
And when we pay attention, or "return to our bodies", so to speak, we're not lost.

Because we have nowhere to go, we're where we're supposed to be.
Part of a greater whole, where every branch and tree are serving a purpose (ie the "powerful stranger").

If we can see this, we can never be lost.
This is the essence of stillness, or "Here", in Zen.

It is losing touch with this mode of being, that is felt as a sense of loss, any loss.

that's what I got, YMMV.
(sorry my interpretation is still kinda patchy, but I think this is in context of Zen or similar philosophy. reeeeeeeeeeks of it)

This is one of the most profound poems ever ... all of us are lost and this is the wisdom that helps us to become un lost .... patriica

Oh dear. Trees and bushes are inanimate and birds have, well, bird brains. I'm afraid that this is just hippy drivel. Believe me, if one is lost in a forest, panic is a normal state of mind and whilst standing still may well be a good idea, it is unlikely to stop one from being lost. I think that Mr. Wagoner had something to say, but he chose entirely the wrong way to say it.

If after reading this poem you think it is about being lost in the forest, you are lost. If after reading this poem your rebuttal is that panicking in the forest is the appropriate "animate" response, you are lost. If you think trees are inanimate objects, you are lost.
The antidote is this poem, even if it's a hard pill to swallow.
Dig where you fall.

Dear Lawrence, "Dig where you fall". I dig it. Thanks.

Just read this poem for the first time tonight & subsequently 4 or 5 times later & brings my nearby woods closer.
Lighting a fire tomorrow with my bairns & grandbairns in the woods,they're special spaces,belta poem.

Credo che ogni essere umano debba prima o poi stabilire coscientemente di essere un ospite solitario di passaggio in qualsiasi posto si trovi in quanto necessario a stabilire un ascolto profondo con chi ti sta ospitando. Personalmente preferisco la natura, quella che frequentemente attraverso praticando da solo la MTB. Quando siamo in sintonia con questo pensiero, non siamo mai persi anche se la nostra attenzione è rapita dagli affari che ci circondano, e sono affari necessari che ci richiamano allo scopo principale della nostra esistenza...VIVERE. Ritornare in quella sintonia, e quindi rilassare le tensioni emotive indotte e crearne altre tutte tue, è cosa ben diversa...anche questa necessaria in quanto non si vive di solo materia ma anche di ascolto dal quale nasce se lo vuoi un dialogo necessario a chiudere il cerchio sulla nostra presenza QUI.

Do you think he had read Mark Strand's Black Maps prior to composing?

Was so inspired that made a Russian translation. Thanks Tim for pointing to this

Остановись. Деревья и кусты перед тобой
Не пропадут. Везде, где ты сейчас, зовётся «Здесь».
Увидь в этом великую незнакомую силу,
Спроси разрешения знать её и быть узнанным.
Лес дышит. Прислушайся. Он отвечает,
Так я создал этот мир вокруг тебя.
Если уйдёшь, всегда можно вернуться, произнеся «Здесь».
Нет для ворона стволов похожих.
Нет для воробья похожих веток.
Когда связи нет с кустом или деревом,
Ты реально потерялся. Остановись. Лес знает,
Где ты. Дай ему себя найти.

i love men

I ran across a piano piece played in the keys that spell the letters "LOST" on Tiktok and and Found this poem and they felt so right together, and would like to share it with you. My name is CharlesTheVoiceVO

Anybody have any suggestions on HOW to ask permission to be known by ‘here’

Perhaps we are all lost and do not know it.
Knowing where you are is assuming what you know
Is certain.
Saying “ I am lost “ is always a possibility.
Knowing where one is ? Thats one way to look at things.
Possibly not the most interesting.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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