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Poems About Stillness



This page expresses some of the many aspects of stillness through poems and photographs. Be still and enjoy . . . or enjoy and be still . . .

There is a point where in the mystery of existence contradictions meet; where movement is not all movement and stillness is not all stillness; where the idea and the form, the within and the without, are united; where infinite becomes finite, yet not.

~ Rabindranath Tagore ~


Still the Body

by Kabir

still the body

still the mind

still the voice inside

in silence

feel the stillness move


this feeling

cannot be imagined


Be Still

by Arthur Osborne

Thou art? -- I am? -- Why argue? -- Being is.

Keep still and be. Death will not still the mind.

Nor argument, nor hopes of after-death.

This world the battle-ground, yourself the foe

Yourself must master. Eager the mind to seek.

Yet oft astray, causing its own distress

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Then crying for relief, as though some God

Barred from it jealously the Bliss it sought

But would not face.

Till in the end,

All battles fought, all earthly loves abjured,

Dawn in the East, there is no other way

But to be still. In stillness then to find

The giants all were windmills, all the strife

Self-made, unreal; even he that strove

A fancied being, as when that good knight

Woke from delirium and with a loud cry

Rendered his soul to God.

Mind, then, or soul?

Break free from subtle words. Only be still,

Lay down the mind, submit, and Being then

Is Bliss, Bliss Consciousness: and That you are.


The Moor

by R. S. Thomas

It was like a church to me.

I entered it on soft foot,

Breath held like a cap in the hand.

It was quiet.

What God was there made himself felt,

Not listened to, in clean colours

That brought a moistening of the eye,

In movement of the wind over grass.

There were no prayers said. But stillness

Of the heart's passions -- that was praise

Enough; and the mind's cession

Of its kingdom. I walked on,

Simple and poor, while the air crumbled

And broke on me generously as bread.


Go Deeper

by Chris McCombs

Go deeper

Past thought

Into silence

Past silence

Into stillness

Deeper still

Past stillness

Into the Heart


Let the Love


Whatever is left of you

Stillness Through Motion


These Divine Verses

by Mirza Ghalib

These divine verses,

As I write


The hallowed revelations


From on high

The sound of the scribe's pen

In the stillness of the night is indeed

The heavenly muse

Uttering her immortal words


East Coker (from The Four Quartets)

by T. S. Eliot

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older

the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated

Of dead and living. Not the intense moment

Isolated, with no before and after,

But a lifetime burning in every moment

And not the lifetime of one man only

But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

There is a time for the evening under starlight,

A time for the evening under lamplight

(The evening with the photograph album).

Love is most nearly itself

When here and now cease to matter.

Old men ought to be explorers

Here or there does not matter

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity

For a further union, a deeper communion

Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,

The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters

Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.


His Stillness

by Sharon Olds

The doctor said to my father, "You asked me

to tell you when nothing more could be done.

That's what I'm telling you now." My father

sat quite still, as he always did,

especially not moving his eyes. I had thought

he would rave if he understood he would die,

wave his arms and cry out. He sat up,

thin, and clean, in his clean gown,

like a holy man. The doctor said,

"There are things we can do which might give you time,

but we cannot cure you." My father said,

"Thank you." And he sat, motionless, alone,

with the dignity of a foreign leader.

I sat beside him. This was my father.

He had known he was mortal. I had feared they would have to

tie him down. I had not remembered

he had always held still and kept quiet to bear things,

the liquor a way to keep still. I had not

known him. My father had dignity. At the

end of his life his life began

to wake in me.



by James Elroy Flecker

When the words rustle no more,

And the last work's done,

When the bolt lies deep in the door,

And Fire, our Sun,

Falls on the dark-laned meadows of the floor;

When from the clock's last time to the next chime

Silence beats his drum,

And Space with gaunt grey eyes and her brother Time

Wheeling and whispering come,

She with the mould of form and he with the loom of rhyme,

Then twittering out in the night my thought-birds flee,

I am emptied of all my dreams:

I only hear Earth turning, only see

Ether's long bankless streams,

And only know I should drown if you

Laid not your hand on me.


Pine Forest

by J Brehmer

Forest is a palpable presence

greater than its sum of branches,

coniferous-ly expressing mystery

bottomless as deep-seas are black.

The hottest day is rendered cool

one step inside the blue-green cave -

as if you're walking underwater

through the Earth's most natural nave.

Sunlight freckles the needle-y floor

though not enough to bring it bright,

mythical creatures will appear

solid in the softened light.

Unlike drugstore perfumed candles

in the throat real pine scent stings

pleasantly, a pinch of potent

woodland ginger: tantalizing.

Time spent steeped in forest spirit

soothes the flesh though soul is bared,

in the stillness is remembrance

of how vast and loved we are.


What To Remember When Waking

by David Whyte

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,

coming back to this life from the other

more secret, movable and frighteningly honest world

where everything began,

there is a small opening into the new day

which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.

What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough

for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible

while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.

To remember the other world in this world

is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,

you are not an accident amidst other accidents

you were invited from another and greater night

than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window

toward the mountain presence of everything that can be

what urgency calls you to your one love?

What shape waits in the seed of you

to grow and spread its branches

against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?

In the trees beyond the house?

In the life you can imagine for yourself?

In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?

Gifts of Solitude



by Matsuo Basho


the cicada's cry

drills into the rocks.

Translated by Robert Hass



David Taylor

Without movement and so not rhythmic

no change only a potential for becoming.

What colour does it possess?

Not known but it surely does not fade.

What sound does it make

other than constancy?

Throwing into stark relief

all of a different nature

Which do you say is the more real

the comings and goings

or stillness with serenity as its countenance?

And will you hone the mind so finely

that it may separate the two

and choose its dwelling place?



by Mary Oliver

Salt shining behind its glass cylinder.

Mild in a blue bowl. The yellow linoleum.

The cat stretching her black body from the pillow.

The way she makes her curvaceous response to the small, kind gesture.

Then laps the bowl clean.

Then wants to go out into the world

where she leaps lightly and for no apparent reason across the lawn,

the sits, perfectly still, in the grass.

I watch her a little while, thinking:

what more could I do with cold words?

I stand in the cold kitchen, bowing down to her.

I stand in the cold kitchen, everything wonderful around me.


Sense and Stillness

by Dilshan Boange

In the comfortable daze of half-sleep

I lay with you

Your nape a bed-couch

For my eyelids

Softness beholds us-the breeziness of exhales

Imagine freshness of cool moisture

Subtle as water grain on lily pads

Sleep prevails not to make this bliss break

The world of motion calls not to awake


In the perfect stillness of the night

Tim Woodhouse

In the perfect stillness of the night

Some artistic sense inspires me

And makes me think that one day I just might

Reach out from daily, dull monotony -

Achieve some lasting goal, some burning aim -

And then I wake and go to work again...

Comments Welcome!

Shaloo Walia from India on December 28, 2015:

A lovely collection of poems. I enjoyed reading it.

Audrey Howitt from California on November 29, 2015:

A lovely collection--I love Mary Oliver's work~

anonymous on September 04, 2013:

great but not easy to understand, only to feel

Treaphort on October 30, 2012:

diggin your page yo! i'll be back

leafspirit lm on June 16, 2012:

Some of these really touched me, and I might have to use one or two of them as Thoughts for the Day on my website.

anonymous on May 13, 2012:

Really good collection. Thank you.

mary lighthouse15 on January 28, 2012:

I like your poetry collection!

Woverwijk on September 12, 2011:

What a great collection of poems! I'll be coming back here to read more when I feel the need for some contemplation ... Thanks for pulling these together!

Jacqueline Marshall (author) from Chicago area on April 09, 2011:

@lovelylashes: Thank you for the sprinkle!

lovelylashes on April 07, 2011:

I feel very still after reading these lovely poems. Silently, and with just a little sprinkling of angel dust...I've blessed your lens. :)

KarenTBTEN on July 23, 2010:

Nice selection of poems on an evocative theme. I'm thinking of a line from a song: "Someday you will learn to be still."

anonymous on June 11, 2010:

O living pine be still. -Native American

Amy Fricano from WNY on April 18, 2010:

calming. still. thanks.

Indigo Janson from UK on April 18, 2010:

Thank you for this peaceful place of stillness. Beautifully done. Lensrolled to The Gift of Solitude.

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