Poetry Friday: Vaclav Havel – a poem for beginnings

Searching for just the right words of encouragement and advice  can be tricky, especially if they are intended for someone who has spent their entire life listening to your words of encouragement and advice – your own kid, for example. Everything you try to say has been said – by you, and many times already. The words seem practiced and flat, no matter how heartfelt or filled with the wisdom of experience they may be.  So, English teacher that I am, I turn to other people’s words, poems and essays I’ve collected and filed away for moments such as this.  This was today’s offering, copied out and slipped under the door:
It Is I Who Must Begin – Vaclav Havel

It is I who must begin.
Once I begin, once I try —
here and now,
right where I am,
not excusing myself
by saying things
would be easier elsewhere,
without grand speeches and
ostentatious gestures,
but all the more persistently
— to live in harmony
with the “voice of Being,” as I
understand it within myself
— as soon as I begin that,
I suddenly discover,
to my surprise, that
I am neither the only one,
nor the first,
nor the most important one
to have set out
upon that road.
Whether all is really lost
or not depends entirely on
whether or not I am lost

(Teaching With Fire, ed. by S.M. Intrator and M. Scribner)
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8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Vaclav Havel – a poem for beginnings

  1. Tough being a parent! Even when heartfelt, the words fall on deafened ears at times. I like your opening explanation, trying a new way to connect. I know this poem, have the book, but never looked at it in this way. Those final lines-so true! Thank you, Tara.

  2. Very powerful poem. Wish I'd thought of slipping this under a door years ago. Because , as you said, repeating my own words of wisdom falls on deaf ears after a while. Great post!

  3. Tara,Don't you just wish you could write all your advice into a poem. But then you'd have to fight to have the child read as well as listen. What's a parent to do? Good thing we all out-grow it, finally. Not the kid, the parent, because if the child is lucky he grows to be a parent too.Great post, thank you.

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