Poetry Friday: Be Kind by Michael Blumenthal

Poetry Friday is hosted by Donna at Mainely Write.

I found this poem while scrolling through the archives of The Writer’s Almanac, which I often do when the news of the world fills me with trepidation and rage, and I need words of comfort and beauty.  I loved it instantly…that, and last evening’s sky, put me in a better frame of mind.

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Be Kind by Michael Blumenthal

 

Not merely because Henry James said
there were but four rules of life—
be kind be kind be kind be kind— but
because it’s good for the soul, and,
what’s more, for others; it may be
that kindness is our best audition
for a worthier world, and, despite
the vagueness and uncertainty of
its recompense, a bird may yet wander
into a bush before our very houses,
gratitude may not manifest itself in deeds
entirely equal to our own, still there’s
weather arriving from every direction,
the feasts of famine and feasts of plenty
may yet prove to be one, so why not
allow the little sacrificial squinches and
squigulas to prevail? Why not inundate
the particular world with minute particulars?
Dust’s certainly all our fate, so why not
make it the happiest possible dust,
a detritus of blessedness? Surely
the hedgehog, furling and unfurling
into its spiked little ball, knows something
that, with gentle touch and unthreatening
tone, can inure to our benefit, surely the wicked
witches of our childhood have died and,
from where they are buried, a great kindness
has eclipsed their misdeeds. Yes, of course,
in the end so much comes down to privilege
and its various penumbras, but too much
of our unruly animus has already been
wasted on reprisals, too much of the
unblessed air is filled with smoke from
undignified fires. Oh friends, take
whatever kindness you can find
and be profligate in its expenditure:
It will not drain your limited resources,
I assure you, it will not leave you vulnerable
and unfurled, with only your sweet little claws
to defend yourselves, and your wet little noses,
and your eyes to the ground, and your little feet.

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12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Be Kind by Michael Blumenthal

  1. So much to love here! “the little sacrificial squinches and
    squigulas,” “the happiest possible dust,/a detritus of blessedness,” “take/whatever kindness you can find/and be profligate in its expenditure.” Thanks, Tara!

  2. This is wonderful, Tara. I love “Oh friends, take
    whatever kindness you can find
    and be profligate in its expenditure:” Thanks for sharing–I will be more mindful of spreading some kindness in my world today.

  3. Oh, how true! Thank you for sharing this poem. I’ve been so stuck on sharing my writing that I aim to share some great work that makes me feel like writing. This makes me want to write about kindness. Well done for finding a poem that giving in to a rant of some sort.

  4. I suspect you and I could talk a long time about today’s world, and I appreciate this sharing. There are many words that take this message, but “Be kind” is really all that’s needed, though Michael Blumenthal has taken it to a level everyone will adore, like me! “why not
    allow the little sacrificial squinches and
    squigulas to prevail?”

  5. Tara, this is fabulous! I especially love these lines:

    “Oh friends, take
    whatever kindness you can find
    and be profligate in its expenditure:
    It will not drain your limited resources…”

    Some year I’m going to choose “kindness” as my one-little-word, and so I am tucking this poem away against that day now. Thank you!

  6. Tara, your sky photo and this poem has shed a new light on today. This line, “it may be that kindness is our best audition for a worthier world,” strikes me. As busy as a day can be, when I share a kindness with another, I feel I have done something to better humanity. No praise, no applause, just a gesture of giving. What if the world would feel this need to give and not to just take, or rule, or direct???

  7. These truly are words to live by:
    “Oh friends, take
    whatever kindness you can find
    and be profligate in its expenditure”
    Thank you for sharing these “words of comfort and beauty,” Tara!

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