David Whyte

Literary Birthday – 2 November – David Whyte


Happy Birthday, David Whyte, born 2 November 1955

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

More Quotations

  1. The poet lives and writes at the frontier between deep internal experience and the revelations of the outer world. There is no going back once this frontier has been reached; a new territory is visible and what has been said cannot be unsaid.
  2. Read and admire, but then go back to first principles and ask the question yourself, in your own way. Dare to disagree.
  3. Ambition left to itself, like a Rupert Murdoch, always becomes tedious, its only object the creation of larger and larger empires of control; but a true vocation calls us out beyond ourselves; breaks our heart in the process and then humbles, simplifies and enlightens us about the hidden, core nature of the work that enticed us in the first place. We find that all along, we had what we needed from the beginning and that in the end we have returned to its essence, an essence we could not understand until we had undertaken the journey.
  4. P O E T R Y:  Language against which we have no defences.
  5. The price of our vitality is the sum of all our fears.
  6. It is always hard to believe that the courageous step is so close to us, that it is closer than we ever could imagine, that in fact, we already know what it is, and that the step is simpler, more radical than we had thought: which is why we so often prefer the story to be more elaborate, our identities clouded by fear, the horizon safely in the distance, the essay longer than it needs to be and the answer safely in the realm of impossibility.
  7. Art is the act of triggering deep memories of what it means to be fully human.
  8. The ability to speak the truth is as much the ability to describe what it is like to stand in trepidation at this door, as it is to actually go through it and become that beautifully honest spiritual warrior, equal to all circumstances, we would like to become.
  9. At any time of life, follow your own questions; don’t mistake other people’s questions for your own.
  10. Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without. Vulnerability is not a choice. Vulnerability is the underlying, ever-present, and abiding undercurrent of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens
so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

David Whyte is an English poet of Irish extraction. He is the author of seven books of poetry and three books of prose. Whyte holds a degree in Marine Zoology and has travelled extensively, including living and working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands and leading anthropological and natural history expeditions in the Andes, Amazon and Himalaya. His books include Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity, The House of Belonging, and Everything Is Waiting for You.

Visit DavidWhyte.com

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by Amanda Patterson

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