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Inspirational Poems

The Invitation
    by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah from her book, THE INVITATION © 1999.
Published by HarperONE, San Francisco.
All rights reserved. Presented with permission
of the author. www.oriah.org

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking
    by Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain ;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

 

You and To-Day
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

With every rising of the sun
Think of your life as just begun.

The past has shrived and buried deep
All yesterdays - there let them sleep,

Nor seek to summon back one ghost
Of that innumerable host.

Concern yourself with but to-day;
Woo it and teach it to obey

Your wish and will. Since time began
To-day has been the friend of man.

But in his blindness and his sorrow
He looks to yesterday and to-morrow.

You and to-day! a soul sublime
And the great pregnant hour of time.

With God between to bind the train,
Go forth, I say - attain - attain.

 

Morning Prayer
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Let me to-day do something that shall take
A little sadness from the world's vast store,
And may I be so favoured as to make
Of joy's too scanty sum a little more
Let me not hurt, by any selfish deed
Or thoughtless word, the heart of foe or friend;
Nor would I pass, unseeing, worthy need,
Or sin by silence when I should defend.
However meagre be my worldly wealth,
Let me give something that shall aid my. kind -
A word of courage, or a thought of health,
Dropped as I pass for troubled hearts to find.
Let me to-night look back across the span
'Twixt dawn and dark, and to my conscience say -
Because of some good act to beast or man -
"The world is better that I lived to-day."

 

Let Us Be Kind
    by W. Lomax Childress

Let us be kind;
The way is long and lonely,
And human hearts are asking for this blessing only --
That we be kind.
We cannot know the grief that men may borrow,
We cannot see the souls storm-swept by sorrow,
But love can shine upon the way to-day, to-morrow --
Let us be kind.

Let us be kind;
This is a wealth that has no measure,
This is of Heaven and earth the highest treasure --
Let us be kind.
A tender word, a smile of love in meeting,
A song of hope and victory to those retreating,
A glimpse of God and brotherhood while life is fleeting --
Let us be kind.

Let us be kind;
Around the world the tears of time are falling,
And for the loved and lost these human hearts are calling --
Let us be kind.
To age and youth let gracious words be spoken;
Upon the wheel of pain so many lives are broken,
We live in vain who give no tender token --
Let us be kind.

Let us be kind;
The sunset tints will soon be in the west,
Too late the flowers are laid then on the quiet breast --
Let us be kind.
And when the angel guides have sought and found us,
Their hands shall link the broken ties of earth that bound us,
And Heaven and home shall brighten all around us --
Let us be kind.

 

The World's Need
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind,
Is all the sad world needs.

 

Hope
    by Emily Brontë

Hope Was but a timid friend;
She sat without the grated den,
Watching how my fate would tend,
Even as selfish-hearted men.

She was cruel in her fear;
Through the bars one dreary day,
I looked out to see her there,
And she turned her face away!

Like a false guard, false watch keeping,
Still, in strife, she whispered peace;
She would sing while I was weeping;
If I listened, she would cease.

False she was, and unrelenting;
When my last joys strewed the ground,
Even Sorrow saw, repenting,
Those sad relics scattered round;

Hope, whose whisper would have given
Balm to all my frenzied pain,
Stretched her wings, and soared to heaven,
Went, and ne'er returned again!

 

Dawn
    by Emily Dickinson

When night is almost done,
And sunrise grows so near
That we can touch the spaces,
It 's time to smooth the hair

And get the dimples ready,
And wonder we could care
For that old faded midnight
That frightened but an hour.

 

The Road Not Taken
    by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

The Things Divine
    by Jean Brooks Burt

These are the things I hold divine:
A trusting child's hand laid in mine,
Rich brown earth and wind-tossed trees,
The taste of grapes and the drone of bees,
A rhythmic gallop, long June days,
A rose-hedged lane and lovers' lays,
The welcome smile on neighbors' faces,
Cool, wide hills and open places,
Breeze-blown fields of silver rye,
The wild, sweet note of the plover's cry,
Fresh spring showers and scent of box,
The soft, pale tint of the garden phlox,
Lilacs blooming, a drowsy noon,
A flight of geese and an autumn moon,
Rolling meadows and storm-washed heights,
A fountain murmur on summer nights,
A dappled fawn in the forest hush,
Simple words and the song of a thrush,
Rose-red dawns and a mate to share
With comrade soul my gypsy fare,
A waiting fire when the twilight ends,
A gallant heart and the voice of friends.

 

Limitless
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

When the motive is right and the will is strong
There are no limits to human power;
For that great Force back of us moves along
And takes us with it, in trial's hour.

And whatever the height you yearn to climb,
Though it never was trod by the foot of man,
And no matter how steep - I say you can,
If you will be patient - and use your time.

 

Loss and Gain
    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.

I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.

But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb in the turn of the tide.

 

The Winds of Fate
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

One ship drives east and another drives west,
With the self-same winds that blow,
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That tell them the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the winds of fate,
As we voyage along through life,
'Tis the set of the soul
That decides its goal
And not the calm or the strife.

 

If We Understood
    Anonymous

Could we but draw back the curtains
That surround each other's lives,
See the naked heart and spirit,
Know what spur the action gives,
Often we should find it better,
Purer than we judged we should,
We should love each other better,
If we only understood.

Could we judge all deeds by motives,
See the good and bad within,
Often we should love the sinner
All the while we loathe the sin;
Could we know the powers working
To o'erthrow integrity,
We should judge each other's errors
With more patient charity.

If we knew the cares and trials,
Knew the effort all in vain,
And the bitter disappointment,
Understood the loss and gain--
Would the grim, eternal roughness
Seem -- I wonder -- just the same?
Should we help where now we hinder,
Should we pity where we blame?

Ah! we judge each other harshly,
Knowing not life's hidden force;
Knowing not the fount of action
Is less turbid at its source;
Seeing not amid the evil
All the golden grains of good;
Oh! we'd love each other better,
If we only understood.

 

The Things that Count
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Now, dear, it isn't the bold things,
Great deeds of valour and might,
That count the most in the summing up of life at the end of the day.
But it is the doing of old things,
Small acts that are just and right;
And doing them over and over again, no matter what others say;
In smiling at fate, when you want to cry, and in keeping at work when you want to play -
Dear, those are the things that count.

And, dear, it isn't the new ways
Where the wonder-seekers crowd
That lead us into the land of content, or help us to find our own.
But it is keeping to true ways,
Though the music is not so loud,
And there may be many a shadowed spot where we journey along alone;
In flinging a prayer at the face of fear, and in changing into a song a groan -
Dear, these are the things that count.

My dear, it isn't the loud part
Of creeds that are pleasing to God,
Not the chant of a prayer, or the hum of a hymn, or a jubilant shout or song.
But it is the beautiful proud part
Of walking with feet faith-shod;
And in loving, loving, loving through all, no matter how things go wrong;
In trusting ever, though dark the day, and in keeping your hope when the way seems long -
Dear, these are the things that count.

 

The Land of Beginning Again
    by Louisa Fletcher Tarkington

I wish there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all our poor, selfish griefs
Could be dropped, like a shabby old coat, at the door,
And never put on again.

I wish we could come on it all unaware,
Like the hunter who finds a lost trail;
And I wish that the one whom our blindness had done
The greatest injustice of all
Could be at the gate like the old friend that waits
For the comrade he's gladdest to hail.

We would find the things we intended to do,
But forgot and remembered too late--
Little praises unspoken, little promises broken,
And all of the thousand and one
Little duties neglected that might have perfected
The days of one less fortunate.

It wouldn't be possible not to be kind.
In the Land of Beginning Again;
And the ones we misjudged and the ones whom we grudged
Their moments of victory here,
Would find the grasp of our loving handclasp
More than penitent lips could explain.

For what had been hardest we'd know had been best,
And what had seemed loss would be gain,
For there isn't a sting that will not take wing
When we've faced it and laughed it away;
And I think that the laughter is most what we're after,
In the Land of Beginning Again.

So I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all our poor, selfish griefs
Could be dropped, like a ragged old coat, at the door,
And never put on again.

 

Life is Too Short
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Life is too short for any vain regretting;
Let dead delight bury its dead, I say,
And let us go upon our way forgetting
The joys and sorrows of each yesterday
Between the swift sun's rising and its setting
We have no time for useless tears or fretting:
Life is too short.

Life is too short for any bitter feeling;
Time is the best avenger if we wait;
The years speed by, and on their wings bear healing;
We have no room for anything like hate.
This solemn truth the low mounds seem revealing
That thick and fast about our feet are stealing:
Life is too short.

Life is too short for aught but high endeavor--
Too short for spite, but long enough for love.
And love lives on forever and forever;
It links the worlds that circle on above:
'Tis God's first law, the universe's lever.
In His vast realm the radiant souls sigh never
"Life is too short."

 

Resolve
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Build on resolve, and not upon regret,
The structure of thy future. Do not grope
Among the shadows of old sins, but let
Thine own soul's light shine on the path of hope
And dissipate the darkness. Waste no tears
Upon the blotted record of lost years,
But turn the leaf and smile, oh, smile, to see
The fair white pages that remain for thee.

Prate not of thy repentance. But believe
The spark divine dwells in thee: let it grow.
That which the upreaching spirit can achieve
The grand and all-creative forces know;
They will assist and strengthen as the light
Lifts up the acorn to the oak tree's height.
Thou hast but to resolve, and lo! God's whole
Great universe shall fortify thy soul.

 

Assertion
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I am serenity. Though passions beat
Like mighty billows on my helpless heart,
I know beyond them lies the perfect sweet
Serenity, which patience can impart.
And when wild tempests in my bosom rage,
"Peace, peace," I cry, "it is my heritage."

I am good health. Though fevers rack my brain
And rude disorders mutilate my strength,
A perfect restoration after pain,
I know shall be my recompense at length.
And so through grievous day and sleepless night,
"Health, health," I cry, "it is my own by right."

I am success. Though hungry, cold, ill-clad,
I wander for awhile, I smile and say,
"It is but for a time - I shall be glad
To-morrow, for good fortune comes my way.
God is my father, He has wealth untold,
His wealth is mine, health, happiness, and gold."

 

Worth While
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It is easy enough to be pleasant
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is the one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years,
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through tears.

It is easy enough to be prudent
When nothing tempts you to stray,
When without or within no voice of sin
Is luring your soul away;
But it's only a negative virtue
Until it is tried by fire,
And the life that is worth the honour on earth
Is the one that resists desire.

By the cynic, the sad, the fallen,
Who had no strength for the strife,
The world's highway is cumbered to-day -
They make up the sum of life;
But the virtue that conquers passion,
And the sorrow that hides in a smile -
It is these that are worth the homage on earth,
For we find them but once in a while.

 

I Am
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I know not whence I came,
I know not whither I go;
But the fact stands clear that I am here
In this world of pleasure and woe.
And out of the mist and murk
Another truth shines plain -
It is my power each day and hour
To add to its joy or its pain.

I know that the earth exists,
It is none of my business why;
I cannot find out what it's all about,
I would but waste time to try.
My life is a brief, brief thing,
I am here for a little space,
And while I stay I would like, if I may,
To brighten and better the place.

The trouble, I think, with us all
Is the lack of a high conceit.
If each man thought he was sent to this spot
To make it a bit more sweet,
How soon we could gladden the world,
How easily right all wrong,
If nobody shirked, and each one worked
To help his fellows along!

Cease wondering why you came -
Stop looking for faults and flaws;
Rise up to-day in your pride and say,
"I am part of the First Great Cause!
However full the world,
There is room for an earnest man.
It had need of me, or I would not be -
I am here to strengthen the plan."

 

Wishing
    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Do you wish the world were better?
Let me tell you what to do:
Set a watch upon your actions,
Keep them always straight and true;
Rid your mind of selfish motives;
Let your thoughts be clean and high.
You can make a little Eden
Of the sphere you occupy.

Do you wish the world were wiser?
Well, suppose you make a start,
By accumulating wisdom
In the scrapbook of your heart:
Do not waste one page on folly;
Live to learn, and learn to live.
If you want to give men knowledge
You must get it, ere you give.

Do you wish the world were happy?
Then remember day by day
Just to scatter seeds of kindness
As you pass along the way;
For the pleasures of the many
May be ofttimes traced to one,
As the hand that plants an acorn
Shelters armies from the sun.

 


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