This Being Human Is a Guest House

Sarah Miller posted this poem on her lovely blog last January and it wowed me so much that I printed it out and stuck it on my wall. Sarah, thanks for introducing me to a poem that I love every single day.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door, laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

- Rumi

Feel free to leave a favorite poem in the comments. :)


Artemis Grey said…
That is quite honestly the first thing I've ever read that makes me glad to be human. Sounds strange, but usually I see my humanity as more of a burden, a barrier between me and the world because of the expectations and mindsets that come with being human and being raised to think in certain terms. But that poem made me revel in being human and experiencing things that humans experience.

Here's one of my favorite poems ever:

Ancient Beauty

I am the glowing embers of a dying fire,
An icy wind blowing across northern wastes,
The knee-deep sludge of a marshy mire,
An errant knight who rides in haste.

I am the softness of feathered down,
The wailing cries of sea gulls on the heights,
The majesty of a flowing gown,
An assassin's stealth, a warrior's might.

I am the spirits of sailors, bound for new shores,
The wrath and fury of a mighty gale,
The straining of muscles and creaking of oars,
The billowing of an unfurled sail.

I am the twinkling of stars in the sky above,
The pale grey light of the crescent moon,
The "I wish" of one in need of love,
The glowing rays of the sun at noon.

I am the towering strength of the highest mountain,
The suppleness of well-tanned leather,
The burbling murmur of a silver fountain,
The lightness of a wind-borne feather,
Once, in ages past, they called me beautiful.
Now they just call me cliche.

- Daniel Perett

I found it in an old magazine called Virginia Writing that showcases young artists of all sorts. Someone had tossed the magazine in the trash. There were dozens of them, most of which came home with me. I get all dreamy and wistful when I read it. I'd love to know if the author was still writing. I keep this poem in the front of whatever notebook I'm currently using for my own writing.
Q said…
I love The Lady of Shalott, by Tennyson, but it's a bit long to post here. Here's a link.
Lindsie said…
I am a fan of poetry, but I rely on the knowledge of others for my education; I follow a few blogs where people post poems and I get a few new ones daily! Here's one that recently caught my attention:

“She Considers the Dimensions of Her Soul”
Young Smith

The shape of her soul is a square.
She knows this to be the case
because she often feels its corners
pressing sharp against the bone
just under her shoulder blades
and across the wings of her hips.
At one time, when she was younger,
she had hoped that it might be a cube,
but the years have worked to dispel
this illusion of space, so that now
she understands: it is a simple plane,
a shape with surface, but no volume—
a window without a building, an eye
without a mind.
Of course, this square
does not appear on x-rays, and often,
weeks may pass when she forgets
that it exists. When she does think
to consider its purpose in her life,
she can say only that it aches with
a single mystery, for whose answer
she has long ago given up the search—
since its question is a word whose name
can never quite be asked. This yearning,
she has concluded, is the only function
of the square, repeated again and again
in each of its four matching angles,
until, with time, she is persuaded
anew that what it frames has no
interest in ever making her happy.
Melina said…
I love almost anything from Robert Frost, but this is one of my favourites from him.

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Jazz said…
My favorite poem, and one of only two that I have memorized, is The Veteran by Dorothy Parker, which I take great inspiration from for my WIP.

The Veteran
Dorothy Parker

When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
"Come out, your dogs, and fight!'' said I,
And wept there was but once to die.

But I am old; and good and bad
Are woven in a crazy plaid
I sit and say, "The world is so;
And he is wise who lets it go.
A battle lost, a battle won--
The difference is small, my son.''

Inertia rides and riddles me;
The which is called philosophy.
KT Howard said…
I don't read poems too often, but I picked up a Random House Treasury of Best-Loved Poems. My favorites are small.

by Edwin Markham

He drew a circle that shut me out ---
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
AndrewsMommom said…
Yeah! It's poetry day. I posted by the same author last time - but I love Shel! It's not very philosophical but it sure is funny! Here's DREADFUL:

Someone ate the baby.
It's rather sad to say.
Someone ate the baby
So she won't be out to play.
We'll never hear her whiney cry
Or have to feel if she is dry.
We'll never hear her asking "Why?"
Someone ate the baby.

Someone ate the baby.
It's absolutely clear
Someone ate the baby
'Cause the baby isn't here.
We'll give away her toys and clothes.
We'll never have to wipe her nose.
Dad says, "That's the way it goes."
Someone ate the baby.

Someone ate the baby.
What a frightful thing to eat!
Someone ate the baby
Though she wasn't very sweet.
It was a heartless thing to do.
The policemen haven't got a clue.
I simply can't imagine who
Would go and (burp) eat the baby.

-- Shel Silverstein
Nasir said…
Rumi's poetry is etherial

one of my favs from him.

The Meaning of Love

Both light and shadow
are the dance of Love.
Love has no cause;
it is the astrolabe of God’s secrets.
Lover and Loving are inseparable
and timeless.

Although I may try to describe Love
when I experience it I am speechless.
Although I may try to write about Love
I am rendered helpless;
my pen breaks and the paper slips away
at the ineffable place
where Lover, Loving and Loved are one.

Every moment is made glorious
by the light of Love.
Caroline said…
One of my favorite poems is by Edgar Allan Poe. Like a lot of Poe's work, it is best read aloud. It's called Annabelle Lee (its kind of long, sorry):

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love -
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me
Yes! that was the reason
(as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we
Of many far wiser than we
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In the sepulcher there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
-Edgar Allan Poe

This poem always makes me emotional. It is so filled with love that it makes me cry. The rhythm and the emotion are wonderful. Though it is sad, it is still one of my all time favorite poems.

Kristin Cashore said…
Thanks for the poems, everyone! I'm in FL with the babies and confess I haven't had time to read them all yet, but I'll enjoy them in a quiet moment. :o)
Anonymous said…
Oof. I think I needed too read that. Thank you.

Laurence King said…
I came across this poem a few years ago and since then have read it a million times over. I often read it in my yoga classes during the last relaxation pose.

As a bee seeks nectar from all kinds of flowers,
seek teachings everywhere.
Like a deer finds a quiet place to graze, seek seclusion to digest all that you have gathered.
Like a mad one beyond all limits,
go where you please and live like a lion completely free of all fear.

—Ozogchen Tantra
Anonymous said…
Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow 
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second 
to be a bud on a spring branch, 
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile, 
learning to sing in my new nest, 
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, 
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, 
in order to fear and to hope. 
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and 
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time 
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond, 
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence, 
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, 
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks, 
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to 

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names, 
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once, 
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, 
so I can wake up, 
and so the door of my heart can be left open, 
the door of compassion.

- Thich Nhat Hanh
Con Lombardo said…
Well I'll have to add an extremely short poem to balance things out, by Ogden Nash I'm pretty sure:


Adam had 'em
Kimmie said…
Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

-- Robert Frost
Anonymous said…
First Lessons by Philip Booth

Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

I'm a pretty stoic person, but this poem always gives me chills and teary eyes. I grew up on the Maine coast (Booth is considered a Maine poet), so the imagery here resonates with me on a very literal level, but I think it makes for a powerful metaphor as well.

Interesting trivia: Booth was one of Robert Frost's last students at Dartmouth. I think you can definitely see his influence.

- lih
Anonymous said…
I don't have a poem today, but hopefully, this great exchange between a student and Martha Graham will suffice:

"I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. ... I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be. Martha said to me, very quietly,

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."

I just read this and thougth I'd share. It certainly made my night ;)
Tabatha said…
I love all these poems! Something short from my Poetry Friday page for you:

by Christopher Morley

The pearl
Is a disease of the oyster.
A poem
Is a disease of the spirit
Caused by the irritation
Of a granule of Truth
Fallen into that soft gray bivalve
We call the mind.
Kel said…
Apologies for the length, but here's one of my favorites:


If you can keep your head when all around you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Of being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
Within sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son

-Rudyard Kipling, 1895.
Katt said…
This is one of my favorites, I named my dragon statue after Custard. :D

By Ogden Nash

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Week!, which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.

But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.

The pirate gaped at Belinda's dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets but they didn't hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.

Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.
Kristin Cashore said…
Oh, thanks, everyone, for the beautiful poems and the funny ones, too.
helen said…
Picking one is hard! I love everything by Emily Dickinson but my very favorite poem are by e.e. cummings. I read this one in JHS and remember thinking "You can say this in poetry?" I attempted to include all the correct punctuation and spacing. Hopefully it works!

she being Brand

-new;and you
know consequently a
little stiff i was

careful of her and(having

thoroughly oiled the universal
joint tested my gas felt of
her radiator made sure her springs were O.

K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her

up,slipped the
clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she
kicked what
the hell)next
minute i was back in neutral tried and

again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing(my

lev-er Right-
oh and her gears being in
A 1 shape passed
from low through
second-in-to-high like
greasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity

avenue i touched the accelerator and give

her the juice,good


was the first ride and believe i we was
happy to see how nice she acted right up to
the last minute coming back down by the Public
Gardens i slammed on

brakes Bothatonce and

brought allofher tremB
to a:dead.


Charlotte said…
Hi Kristin, I've been following your blog for quite a while now, but never posted a single comment because I had a lot to write about (I wrote you an extremely long email last year but, like you say, you get loads of them !). Quick explanation : I'm a bilingual reader for Hachette Jeunesse in France, and I'm the one lucky reader in which hands landed GRACELING, and a year later FIRE. I fell in love with both of them. I've been working for Hachette for 2 years now, and honestly, they are on the first steps of my personal podium ! My reviews were really enthusiastic. And I was so glad when I heard that Hachette was going to release your books ! I feel like I contributed to that, even though my position is a small one. Anyway, thank you for your books, congratulations on your success, and I can't wait to read the adventures of Bitterblue.

Here is a poem that I have always loved.

My Fairy - Lewis Carroll

I have a fairy by my side
Which says I must not sleep,
When once in pain I loudly cried
It said "You must not weep"
If, full of mirth, I smile and grin,
It says "You must not laugh"
When once I wished to drink some gin
It said "You must not quaff".

When once a meal I wished to taste
It said "You must not bite"
When to the wars I went in haste
It said "You must not fight".

"What may I do?" at length I cried,
Tired of the painful task.
The fairy quietly replied,
And said "You must not ask".

Moral: "You mustn't."
Kristin Cashore said…
Noisy Daisy, I owe you a thank you! I"m so happy to be with Hachette Jeunesse! Thanks for the poem, as well :o)
Coldplaygirl said…
Here's one that a friend of mine recited at a Poetry Out Loud competition at our school (he won, 'cause he recited it with the perfect tone - ironic and a bit patronizing, and pretty arrogant, too. This poem suited him perfectly.)


by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley,
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I am not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and—somehow—the wine.

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