“Try To Praise The Mutilated World”

30 01 2010

A couple days ago, I came home to find that I had left my office window wide open. Strong winds had reduced a 2 foot high stack of papers to hundreds of single sheets scattered everywhere in the room.

Ankle-deep like snow all over my office. The place looked ransacked.

During the clean-up, I came across quite a few things that I hadn’t seen in awhile.

One of the things I came across was the September 24, 2001 issue of the New Yorker magazine. It was the first issue after 9/11

On the very last page, was the following poem, which moved me again and maybe even more so thinking about the state of our world which has taken a hard right turn in the last 9 years.

It seems that the suffering of sentient beings and the earth, is on turbo.

I personally think it’s a time now, more than ever, that we need poets. And artists of all kinds. They are the superhero’s that can steer this boat back onto a course that is more sane and gentle and humane.

Don’t give up on this world. And to me, that means staying connected to the soft spot in ourselves, continuing to disarm ourselves internally, and taking any kind actions that we can toward the greater good of restoring and cultivating peaceful abiding.

Here’s the poem:


Try to praise the mutilated world.

Remember June’s long days,

and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.

The nettles that methodically overgrow

the abandoned homesteads of exiles.

You must praise the mutilated world.

You watched the stylish yachts and ships;

one of them had a long trip ahead of it,

while salty oblivion awaited others.

You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,

you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.

You should praise the mutilated world.

Remember the moments when we were together

in a white room and the curtain fluttered.

Return in thought to the concert where music flared.

You gathered acorns in the park in autumn

and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.

Praise the mutilated world

and the grey feather a thrush lost,

and the gentle light that strays and vanishes

and returns.

– Adam Zagajewski  (Translated, from the Polish, by Claire Cavanagh)





9 responses

30 01 2010

Oh, Bindu yes, yes. This brings to mind two quotes, “poetry makes nothing happen” (which we know is NOT TRUE) and “you cannot get the news from poems, yet men die miserably ever day for lack of what is found there.” (WCW).
Oh, yes. I am crying.

30 01 2010


30 01 2010
La La

now i’m all emotional! LOL

Thank-you! what an amazing post! 🙂 THANK-YOU.

30 01 2010
Kate T.W.

Thank you so much for this. Staying open, vulnerable. You put it so beautifully. The poem reminds me of Alice Hoffman’s book, Green Angel, which was written for young adults as a response to 911. Its a gorgeous poetic meditation on healing after great loss. Quite possibly she was inspired by this poem, too.

30 01 2010

This is a beautiful post! We can’t give up on this world, or give up on each other

Thank you for sharing this!

30 01 2010

Look what the wind blew in! Just what we all needed. Thanks to you both (the wind and you, that is).

31 01 2010

So very, very beautiful, both Zagajewski’s and your own. Thank you for being one of the voices we need. And what a delightful gift the open window and wind brought you!

31 01 2010
Emma Alvarez Gibson

Oh! This took my breath away. Thank you.

3 02 2010

yes, we will always need poetry to reach those soft spots we can’t always get to on our own.

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