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Poems About Stillness

Updated on November 10, 2012


This page expresses some of the many aspects of stillness through poems and photographs. Be still and enjoy . . . or enjoy and be still . . .

There is a point where in the mystery of existence contradictions meet; where movement is not all movement and stillness is not all stillness; where the idea and the form, the within and the without, are united; where infinite becomes finite, yet not.

~ Rabindranath Tagore ~

Still the Body

by Kabir

still the body

still the mind

still the voice inside

in silence

feel the stillness move


this feeling

cannot be imagined

Be Still

by Arthur Osborne

Thou art? -- I am? -- Why argue? -- Being is.

Keep still and be. Death will not still the mind.

Nor argument, nor hopes of after-death.

This world the battle-ground, yourself the foe

Yourself must master. Eager the mind to seek.

Yet oft astray, causing its own distress

Then crying for relief, as though some God

Barred from it jealously the Bliss it sought

But would not face.

Till in the end,

All battles fought, all earthly loves abjured,

Dawn in the East, there is no other way

But to be still. In stillness then to find

The giants all were windmills, all the strife

Self-made, unreal; even he that strove

A fancied being, as when that good knight

Woke from delirium and with a loud cry

Rendered his soul to God.

Mind, then, or soul?

Break free from subtle words. Only be still,

Lay down the mind, submit, and Being then

Is Bliss, Bliss Consciousness: and That you are.

The Moor

by R. S. Thomas

It was like a church to me.

I entered it on soft foot,

Breath held like a cap in the hand.

It was quiet.

What God was there made himself felt,

Not listened to, in clean colours

That brought a moistening of the eye,

In movement of the wind over grass.

There were no prayers said. But stillness

Of the heart's passions -- that was praise

Enough; and the mind's cession

Of its kingdom. I walked on,

Simple and poor, while the air crumbled

And broke on me generously as bread.

Go Deeper

by Chris McCombs

Go deeper

Past thought

Into silence

Past silence

Into stillness

Deeper still

Past stillness

Into the Heart


Let the Love


Whatever is left of you

Stillness Through Motion

Tai Chi: Stillness Through Motion
Tai Chi: Stillness Through Motion
Beginners can get their best start and advanced players can plumb new depths with this instruction progressing from principles through absolutly clear demonstrations and explainations of the world's most popular Taiji form. Through humor and abiding good will many formerly secret fundamentals are transmitted to become your own. I'll give you two examples-"standing still for self-correction" and "initiating movement with specific pelvic alignments" have afforded me my most significant progress in 10 years. (Sifu Dave, amazon reviewer)

These Divine Verses

by Mirza Ghalib

These divine verses,

As I write


The hallowed revelations


From on high

The sound of the scribe's pen

In the stillness of the night is indeed

The heavenly muse

Uttering her immortal words

East Coker (from The Four Quartets)

by T. S. Eliot

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older

the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated

Of dead and living. Not the intense moment

Isolated, with no before and after,

But a lifetime burning in every moment

And not the lifetime of one man only

But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

There is a time for the evening under starlight,

A time for the evening under lamplight

(The evening with the photograph album).

Love is most nearly itself

When here and now cease to matter.

Old men ought to be explorers

Here or there does not matter

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity

For a further union, a deeper communion

Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,

The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters

Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

If the greatest god is the stillness all the motions add up to, then we must ineluctably be included.

~ A. R. Ammons ~

His Stillness

by Sharon Olds

The doctor said to my father, "You asked me

to tell you when nothing more could be done.

That's what I'm telling you now." My father

sat quite still, as he always did,

especially not moving his eyes. I had thought

he would rave if he understood he would die,

wave his arms and cry out. He sat up,

thin, and clean, in his clean gown,

like a holy man. The doctor said,

"There are things we can do which might give you time,

but we cannot cure you." My father said,

"Thank you." And he sat, motionless, alone,

with the dignity of a foreign leader.

I sat beside him. This was my father.

He had known he was mortal. I had feared they would have to

tie him down. I had not remembered

he had always held still and kept quiet to bear things,

the liquor a way to keep still. I had not

known him. My father had dignity. At the

end of his life his life began

to wake in me.


by James Elroy Flecker

When the words rustle no more,

And the last work's done,

When the bolt lies deep in the door,

And Fire, our Sun,

Falls on the dark-laned meadows of the floor;

When from the clock's last time to the next chime

Silence beats his drum,

And Space with gaunt grey eyes and her brother Time

Wheeling and whispering come,

She with the mould of form and he with the loom of rhyme,

Then twittering out in the night my thought-birds flee,

I am emptied of all my dreams:

I only hear Earth turning, only see

Ether's long bankless streams,

And only know I should drown if you

Laid not your hand on me.

Pine Forest

by J Brehmer

Forest is a palpable presence

greater than its sum of branches,

coniferous-ly expressing mystery

bottomless as deep-seas are black.

The hottest day is rendered cool

one step inside the blue-green cave -

as if you're walking underwater

through the Earth's most natural nave.

Sunlight freckles the needle-y floor

though not enough to bring it bright,

mythical creatures will appear

solid in the softened light.

Unlike drugstore perfumed candles

in the throat real pine scent stings

pleasantly, a pinch of potent

woodland ginger: tantalizing.

Time spent steeped in forest spirit

soothes the flesh though soul is bared,

in the stillness is remembrance

of how vast and loved we are.

What To Remember When Waking

by David Whyte

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,

coming back to this life from the other

more secret, movable and frighteningly honest world

where everything began,

there is a small opening into the new day

which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.

What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough

for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible

while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.

To remember the other world in this world

is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,

you are not an accident amidst other accidents

you were invited from another and greater night

than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window

toward the mountain presence of everything that can be

what urgency calls you to your one love?

What shape waits in the seed of you

to grow and spread its branches

against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?

In the trees beyond the house?

In the life you can imagine for yourself?

In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?

Gifts of Solitude

Stillness: Daily Gifts of Solitude
Stillness: Daily Gifts of Solitude
Four years ago, dealing with professional uncertainty and a deteriorating relationship with the woman in his life, the author voluntarily took a job as a winter caretaker on a remote ranch in New Mexico's Tusas Mountains, in order to experience an extended period of silence and contemplation. Part memoir, part guide, Mahler's account of what he learned is laced with reflective excerpts from the journal he kept during this period as well as with the words of others who have drawn strength from solitude. (Publisher's Weekly)


by Matsuo Basho


the cicada's cry

drills into the rocks.

Translated by Robert Hass


David Taylor

Without movement and so not rhythmic

no change only a potential for becoming.

What colour does it possess?

Not known but it surely does not fade.

What sound does it make

other than constancy?

Throwing into stark relief

all of a different nature

Which do you say is the more real

the comings and goings

or stillness with serenity as its countenance?

And will you hone the mind so finely

that it may separate the two

and choose its dwelling place?

Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen - that stillness becomes a radiance.

~ Morgan Freeman ~


by Mary Oliver

Salt shining behind its glass cylinder.

Mild in a blue bowl. The yellow linoleum.

The cat stretching her black body from the pillow.

The way she makes her curvaceous response to the small, kind gesture.

Then laps the bowl clean.

Then wants to go out into the world

where she leaps lightly and for no apparent reason across the lawn,

the sits, perfectly still, in the grass.

I watch her a little while, thinking:

what more could I do with cold words?

I stand in the cold kitchen, bowing down to her.

I stand in the cold kitchen, everything wonderful around me.

Sense and Stillness

by Dilshan Boange

In the comfortable daze of half-sleep

I lay with you

Your nape a bed-couch

For my eyelids

Softness beholds us-the breeziness of exhales

Imagine freshness of cool moisture

Subtle as water grain on lily pads

Sleep prevails not to make this bliss break

The world of motion calls not to awake

In the perfect stillness of the night

Tim Woodhouse

In the perfect stillness of the night

Some artistic sense inspires me

And makes me think that one day I just might

Reach out from daily, dull monotony -

Achieve some lasting goal, some burning aim -

And then I wake and go to work again...

Comments Welcome!

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    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      4 years ago from India

      A lovely collection of poems. I enjoyed reading it.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      4 years ago from California

      A lovely collection--I love Mary Oliver's work~

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      great but not easy to understand, only to feel

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      diggin your page yo! i'll be back

    • profile image

      leafspirit lm 

      8 years ago

      Some of these really touched me, and I might have to use one or two of them as Thoughts for the Day on my website.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Really good collection. Thank you.

    • profile image

      mary lighthouse15 

      8 years ago

      I like your poetry collection!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What a great collection of poems! I'll be coming back here to read more when I feel the need for some contemplation ... Thanks for pulling these together!

    • JakTraks profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Marshall 

      9 years ago from Chicago area

      @lovelylashes: Thank you for the sprinkle!

    • lovelylashes profile image


      9 years ago

      I feel very still after reading these lovely poems. Silently, and with just a little sprinkling of angel dust...I've blessed your lens. :)

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      10 years ago

      Nice selection of poems on an evocative theme. I'm thinking of a line from a song: "Someday you will learn to be still."

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      O living pine be still. -Native American

    • Amy Fricano profile image

      Amy Fricano 

      10 years ago from WNY

      calming. still. thanks.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      10 years ago from UK

      Thank you for this peaceful place of stillness. Beautifully done. Lensrolled to The Gift of Solitude.


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