Sometimes, along with the great poems in our literature, other voices also reach us — that touch us in that place that longs to be truly human. Here are a few — known and not so known — that we encountered doing Poems for Peace.
If you have any doubt about the power of a POEM to remind us of what it means to be human, read this little poem written by a 13 year-old boy from India. He was so happy to be studying in an English speaking school.
A few weeks after we received his poem back in August of 2012, he was killed in a rickshaw accident.
What is Important
by Ligori J. (1998-2012)
A word is important
To construct a sentence.
A sentence is important
To frame a question.
A question is important
To get an answer.
An answer is important
To master a subject.
A subject is important
To acquire knowledge.
Knowledge is important
To understand the world.
The world is important
To lead a happy life.
Life is important
To save our soul.
Our soul is important
To reach our creator.
Myra Margolin, volunteering for Susila Dharma International’s ANESHA project in India, knew the child and sent the poem on to us. The boy’s parents subsequently sent on his photo, and
we use it with their permission.
Peace Begins with Ourselves
Atlanta artist Sal Brownfied's Celebration of Healing: Lives Touched by Breast Cancer, went from an exhibition to a best seller. Brownfield had become deeply moved by this experience of art as a language of healing — and how each subject facing cancer, found within themselves a strength they didn't know they had before.
Poets and Poems that have inspired us.
by Maya Angelou
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound.
We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, and comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into
And we say without shyness or apology or
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.
“Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.”
— Pablo Neruda
Recipe for Peace
by Devreaux Baker*
Bare your feet, roll up your sleeves
oil the immigrant's bowl
open the doors and windows of your house
invite in the neighbors, invite in strangers off the street
roll out the dough, add the spices for a good
cardamon and soul, cumin and tears
stir in sesame and sorrow, a dash of salt
pink as new hope
rub marjaram and thyme, lemon grass and
on your fingers and pat the dough
bless the table, bless the bread
bless your hands and feet
bless the neighbors and strangers
off the street
bake the bread for a century or more
on a moderate heat
under the olive trees in your back yard
or on the sun filled stones of Syria
in the white rocks of Beirut
or behind the walls of Jerusalem
in the mountains of Afghanistan
and in the sky scrapers of New York
feast with all the migrant tongues
until your mouth understands
the taste of many different homes
and your belly is full so you fall asleep
cradled in the skirts of the world
curled in the lap of peace.
California poet Devreaux Baker was awarded first prize in the 2014 Nuclear Foundation for Peace's Barbara Manigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards. She was also awarded Honorable Mention in SICA's 2012 Poem for Peace Competition. Her latest book of poems, "Out of the Bpnes of Earth" is published by Wild Mountain Press.
"One eye sees, the other feels." — Paul Klee
The head in a painting by Paul
Is as round as a plate or a ball
With a mouth made of squares
Red eyes and no hair
At first it makes no sense at all/
If ever I met Mr. Klee
I'd ask why he painted this way.
He'd probably smile
Like a mischievous child:
The answer's inside you, he'd say
Could it be a clown, blushing pink?
Or a robot who's trying to wink?
The mouth is shut tight
The eyes have no sight
I really don't know what to think.
For hours I gazed at this head
In a silence as deep as the dead
Till a message came through
"You are me, I am you"
At least I think that's what it said.