Monday, August 17, 2015
By Dorothy Walters
(1928 - )
And not once,
but many times over,
again and again,
how we disappeared
into that deep well
of darkness, shuddering beneath that load of silence,
clinging to our narrow ledge.
Yet the darkness, sometimes,
unfolded as light.
Our atoms dissolved in it,
each separate molecule opening
into a radiant disk of feeling.
How still we became,
witness and thing seen,
spectacle and observer,
each point admitting an untrammeled flood.
-- from Marrow of Flame : Poems of the Spiritual Journey, by Dorothy Walters
Marrow of Flame
Poems of the Spiritual Journey
by Dorothy Walters
"This re-issue of Dorothy Walters's mystical masterpiece is a great literary and spiritual event." -Andrew Harvey
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Book Announcement: Marrow of Flame
I can't express how pleased and honored I am to announce the availability of the Poetry Chaikhana's newest publication: Marrow of Flame: Poems of the Spiritual Journey, by Dorothy Walters. The poetry of Dorothy Walters has always been a favorite on the Poetry Chaikhana. Each time I feature one of her poems, I receive many emails and blog comments telling me how much her poems connect and speak to the heart.
Now the Poetry Chaikhana is making her most popular collection of poetry available in a new and revised edition. This is a chance for you to add some truly inspiring and insightful poetry to your collection -- and, at the same time, support the Poetry Chaikhana.
“This re-issue of Dorothy Walters's mystical masterpiece Marrow of Flame is a great literary and spiritual event. I don’t know of any other poet currently writing in English who expresses so simply and nobly and with such authority the ordeals, ecstasies and revelations of the path...”
~ ANDREW HARVEY, from the Introduction
This beloved collection of poetry by Dorothy Walters explores the spiritual journey through its ecstasies, struggles, and vistas. Each step is observed with the keen insight and clear voice of a modern woman who is both a skilled poet and genuine mystic.
Dorothy Walters’s poems are immediate and inviting, transcendent and often playful. Many of these poems are in dialog, with Rumi and Rilke, Denise Levertov and Lalla, each poem contributing its own wisdom and humor to the ongoing conversation that passes between visionaries and sages through history and across cultures.
Since the publication of the first edition in 2000, Marrow of Flame has already become a modern classic among spiritual seekers.
Now the Poetry Chaikhana offers Marrow of Flame in this updated and revised edition, with a new introduction by Andrew Harvey.
“What if there were a modern Rumi or Kabir, Dante Alighieri or John Donne writing of mystical longing, ecstasies and despair? What if she were a woman? What if she were Dorothy Walters weaving her passionate songs into a priceless prayer shawl? Beware: Who holds up this scarf is swept in the arms of the Lover on the path from which no one returns the same.”
~ SOPHY BURNHAM, author, The Ecstatic Journey: Walking the Mystical Path in Everyday Life
Excerpt from the Introduction by Andrew Harvey
Six years ago now I gave classes on Rumi at the California Institute of Integral Studies. After one of them, during my office hours, a gentle and shy woman with short cropped gray hair in her early sixties came in to talk to me. Before she even began to speak, I was startled by the kind clarity of her presence, the unmistakable aura of canny and tried goodness that clothed her. We spoke of many things that afternoon—about Rumi and his extraordinary relationship with Shams, about the nature of mystical ecstasy, about the kind of rigor and capacity for ordeal demanded by the authentic path of transformation; it became clear to me very quickly that I had a great deal to learn from the woman sitting before me, and that she spoke not from curiosity, or even literary or spiritual passion, but from the most profound, intricate and seasoned inner experience. What struck me most that afternoon about Dorothy Walters was her humility; unlike many of my Californian students and friends, she did not claim enlightenment or flaunt her "mystical" insights. Part of her, I felt, was always kneeling in silence before the vastness of the mystery that had clearly claimed her for its own: she spoke of the Divine haltingly, and with a refined and poignant tenderness, like a lover of her Beloved. And she had a wild Irish laugh, too, which reassured me.
In the years since, we have become the greatest and deepest of friends and I have come to think of Dorothy as a spiritual mother and as one of the few true mystics I have met in my life. Her beauty of soul has illumined my life; her courage has inspired me always to travel deeper into my own vision; I have been able to speak to her, as a fellow seeker and lover of God, with complete candor about the demands of the Path. When I left Meera in circumstances that caused great scandal and controversy, Dorothy wrote me a letter which I shall always cherish and re-read often in which she begged me to "remain true to myself whatever happens and never to give in to any of the terrible pressures my actions and insights will inevitably arouse." It was the perfect advice, perfectly expressed, at exactly the right time; this kind of precision characterizes Dorothy's spirit. The only other being who in my experience combined such deep kindness with such wisdom was Iris Murdoch; one of the great sadnesses of my life is that Iris died before they could meet. When I think of them together I think of the commentary the I Ching gives on the sixth line of the hexagram Ting, "the Cauldron." "The Ting has rings of jade." "Jade is notable for its combination of hardness with soft luster... here the counsel is described in relation to the sage who imparts it. In imparting it, he will be mild and pure, like precious jade."
It was only after the first two years of our friendship that Dorothy began, diffidently and self-deprecatingly, to show me the poems she was writing. I was immediately struck by them; they were exquisitely made, subtle, passionate and profound, unlike anything else I knew that was being written in our time. Whenever we met, Dorothy would bring some fresh works to our meeting. Slowly, as we read them together and discussed them, Dorothy came to reveal more to me of her remarkable inner journey; a journey that has led her through much ordeal and heartbreak and loneliness, from a cramped sometimes difficult childhood, through a long, testing stint as a teacher of literature and women's studies in a mid-western university, to the festive and fertile spiritual and personal life she enjoys now in her very active “retirement” in San Francisco, surrounded by books and music and friends...
“These poems make me gasp. I thought all the great mystics had been gone for centuries… Dorothy Walters--part buddha, part elf--weaves mythic literacy with subversive compassion.”
~ MIRABAI STARR, author of Saint Teresa of Avila and God of Love
Marrow of Flame
Poems of the Spiritual Journey
by Dorothy Walters
Introduction by Andrew Harvey
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