Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sometimes Only Kindness Makes Sense

Doctors Without Borders (already in Haiti)

See two more items on kindness below the poem (Add more as Comment)

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.


"In this rending yet redemptive poem, Nye reaches down to the roots of our humanity, which lie in the great heart where we all cry together. Nye, an Arab American, has been writing poetry since she was five. She has published six books of poetry and several chilren's books. Born of a Palestinian father and an American mother, she has lived her life between those two cultures."
Roger Housden, Ten Poems to Open Your Heart

Excerpted from Ten Poems to Open Your Heart by Roger Housden. "Kindness" from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Mr. Housden says that a friend sent this poem to him right after September 11th and paraphrases Ms. Nye saying that poetry humanizes us in a way that news and even religion sometimes has difficulty doing.

Photo and article just below from Electronic Intifada 2004
Rafah Remembers Rachel's Kindness

Photo from CBS Internet Popular Galleries from May 2009 Pakistan Swat refugee area

Reuters AlertNet - Pakistan: Host families' kindness an example to us all. 03 Jun 2009 11:31:00 GMT. Written by: CARE International. here


ReeBz said...

I have no words to comment over this natural disaster.Thousand of people have lost their lives in this earthquake.May their souls rest in peace.
No doubt it has caused much destruction in Haiti but i believe the little plant of hope still survives and we have to grow it healthy and fruitful by helping the suffering ones...

Komal Khan said...

Sometimes natural disaster comes when there is a need of re living the sense of responsibility and the feelings through which all the human beings are connected with each other.

It reminded me when the earthquake hit Pakistan and we were like "One". Working for the victims day and night, felt their pain, cried for them and wanted to help them by every possible means.

We can feel the pain of those victims of Haiti and pray that they would come out of this difficult time soon inshaAllah!

ReeBz said...

Exactly sir,by reading this post and after hearing the news about earthquake in Haiti I also remembered the destructive earthquake of 8 oct.

Not to mention that, that sense of oneness, love and devotion which i observed among all Pakistanis filled my heart with pleasure.I just hope that may we always have same level of love and brotherhood for our fellow citizens.

May Allah lessens the problems of ppl in Haiti which they are facing now as a result of earthquake!

Nasir Khan said...

"...poetry humanizes us in a way that news and even religion sometimes has difficulty doing". Very well put; I think this is true of literature and art in general.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem.