Four: A poem on Meditation and Wonder

Li-Young Lee


In the dark, a child might ask, What is the world?
just to hear his sister
promise, An unfinished wing of heaven,
just to hear his brother say,
A house inside a house,
but most of all to hear his mother answer,
One more song, then you go to sleep.

How could anyone in that bed guess
the question finds its beginning
in the answer long growing
inside the one who asked, that restless boy,
the night’s darling?

Later, a man lying awake,
he might ask it again,
just to hear the silence
charge him, This night
arching over your sleepless wondering,

this night, the near ground
every reaching-out-to overreaches,

just to remind himself
out of what little earth and duration,
out of what immense good-bye,

each must make a safe place of his heart,
before so strange and wild a guest
as God approaches.


I’m no poetry expert, English major, or grammar assassin, but I find this to be a magnificent poem.  I love the wonder of the child about his place in the big picture of the universe.  It hit me especially as I have the privilege to watch my toddler grow right before my eyes, as he begins to find himself on the cusp of grand wonder.  I find myself completely relating to the child, now a man, struggling to find those reassurances as to his place in the grand scheme of things.  I find myself thinking that this is a poem about meditation and wonder.

When we wonder about our place in a crafted universe so big, how dare we feel in the presence of that very creator?

What do you think the poem is about?

*It’s Saturday, Sunday is a Sabbath, post five drops on Monday.*

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