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David Whyte: Poet

Updated on September 10, 2014

David Whyte: "People are hungry, and one good word is bread for a thousand."

I was introduced to DAVID WHYTE's poetry over a decade ago. Many of the poems touched me deeply and had an impact on my life. This page is to share his life's work.

DAVID WHYTE is an adventurous poet. He has a degree in marine zoology, has worked as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands, led natural history and anthropological expeditions in Chile, Bolivia,and Peru, and has traveled to India and Nepal.

Whyte is also a lecturer and corporate consultant. He uses poetry in corporate settings to help others deal with change, and to encourage creativity in individual employees.


Poem: The Opening of Eyes

That day I saw beneath dark clouds

the passing light over the water

and I heard the voice of the world speak out,

I knew then, as I had before

life is no passing memory of what has been

nor the remaining pages in a great book

waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.

It is the vision of far off things

seen for the silence they hold.

It is the heart after years

of secret conversing

speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert

fallen to his knees before the lit bush.

It is the man throwing away his shoes

as if to enter heaven

and finding himself astonished,

opened at last,

fallen in love with solid ground.

~ David Whyte ~

It is the vision of far off things / seen for the silence they hold.
It is the vision of far off things / seen for the silence they hold. | Source

Poem: Self Portrait

It doesn't interest me if there is one God

or many gods.

I want to know if you belong or feel


If you know despair or can see it in others.

I want to know

if you are prepared to live in the world

with its harsh need

to change you. If you can look back

with firm eyes

saying this is where I stand. I want to know

if you know

how to melt into that fierce heat of living

falling toward

the center of your longing. I want to know

if you are willing

to live, day by day, with the consequence of love

and the bitter

unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have been told, in that fierce embrace, even

the gods speak of God.

~ David Whyte, from Fire In the Earth

New and Selected Poems

River Flow: New & Selected Poems 1984-2007
River Flow: New & Selected Poems 1984-2007

RIVER FLOW contains over one hundred poems selected from five previously published works, together with twenty-three new poems, including a tribute to an Ethiopian woman navigating her first escalator, a meditation of love and benediction for his young daughter, and a cycle of Irish poems that convey his deep love of the land and life-long appreciation for its wisdom. (amazon)


David Whyte grew up in Yorkshire, England

David Whyte grew up in Yorkshire, England
David Whyte grew up in Yorkshire, England

Our work is to make ourselves visible in the world. This is the soul's individual journey, and the soul would much rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else's.

~ D. Whyte ~

Poem: What To Remember When Waking

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?

~ David Whyte ~

TED: David Whyte

He studied marine zoology in Wales

He studied marine zoology in Wales
He studied marine zoology in Wales

Poem: The Lightest Touch

Good poetry begins with

the lightest touch,

a breeze arriving from nowhere,

a whispered healing arrival,

a word in your ear,

a settling into things,

then like a hand in the dark

it arrests the whole body,

steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows

a great line

you can feel Lazarus

deep inside

even the laziest, most deathly afraid

part of you,

lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

~ David Whyte ~

from Everything is Waiting for You

Current home is in the Pacific Northwest, USA

Current home is in the Pacific Northwest, USA
Current home is in the Pacific Northwest, USA

Poem: Loaves and Fishes

This is not the age of information.

This is not

the age of information.

Forget the news,

and the radio,

and the blurred screen.

This is the time

of loaves

and fishes.

People are hungry,

and one good word is bread

for a thousand.

~ David Whyte ~ from The House of Belonging

Excerpt: Interview with David Whyte

Interviewer: Tami Simon

taken from David Whyte: Being At the Frontier of Your Identity

Tami Simon [interviewer]: So we need to go a little bit more into this idea of the "conversation" because I want to make sure I really understand what you mean. At first, you were talking about reality having a conversational nature and that makes sense to me in terms of "I have these ideas that I want and then I get feedback from all kinds of people about what's actually going to happen here." And it keeps going back and forth. But now you are talking about an "inner conversation" and some "central conversation" and I'm not quite tracking. I could have a ton of conversations with myself. I mean, there are a gajillions of me in here! What conversations are useful and not useful and how I do I know if I am in this fierce, central conversation?

David Whyte: Well I'd say that the diagnostics of that fierce, central conversation is that everything starts to make sense in your life. For instance, to use a practical example, if you're a writer or you've got some form of artistic discipline, and you say, "Well, I'll get to it when I've done my work during the day, when I come home." Or, "I'll get to it when I've done this project work and I've got a little bit of space. I'll get to it when I have enough money in the bank, or when I've retired." Or even, "I'll do all my chores in the morning and when that's done, I'll get to it in the afternoon," if you say these things to yourself, you're living a life of contingency and it's very difficult in the afternoon to actually change your identity. You can do it but you're lucky if you can. You have to change your identity back to this initial, original conversational focus.

If you tend to the things that are most important to you first, you don't actually need to spend much time. You can spend even just twenty minutes or half an hour, an hour as you get further into it, perhaps a couple of hours. The rest of the day, and all the other chores, including getting the curtains cleaned and cleaning out the refrigerator and getting the car to the garage to be worked on--all of those things actually can take on a kind of delight instead of something that is standing in the way of your real life.

One of the things that we have to learn in life is "What is my core conversation?" Of course, that is one of the great pedagogical questions when you're growing up through your teens and into your twenties and thirties. It is finding out, "What is my conversational frontier?" And the only way that you find it out is often by making a lot of mistakes and getting into relationships that aren't good for you, getting into work that's not good for you, or doing the work in a way that's not good for you.

But eventually, if you're sincere, you start to get closer and closer to what is real in your life. But you're also, while you're doing that, gaining self-knowledge. This is what delineates what you could say is the "serious practitioner or artist, the serious conversationalist" from those who are constantly, throughout their life, on the periphery and never able to step into the core. That core is where parts of you start to shrive away, to disappear, shaved away, and you get this sense of a nucleus.

This kernel or nucleus - this creative crucible - is not something that exists just by itself. So when you're talking about this creative conversational core, it's something that's working with all of the phenomenology of life around you. It's constantly looking, hearing, seeing, and creating this identity - this "frontier identity" where you're partaking of both at the same time so what you think is you and what you think is not you."

I returned to poetry as a more

precise way to describe the world --- more precise than science.

~ D. Whyte ~

Poem: The Journey

Crossing The Unknown Sea (excerpt)

. . . D. W.'s thoughts about keeping integrity

Somehow, whatever CREATIVE POWERS we have in our work are intimately CONNECTED TO OUR ABILITY TO REMEMBER WHO WE ARE amidst the traumas and losses of existence. All of our great literary traditions emphasize again and again the CENTRAL IMPORTANCE of this dynamic: that there are tremendous forces at work upon us, trying to make us like everyone else, and therefore WE MUST REMEMBER SOMETHING INTENSELY PERSONAL ABOUT THE WAY WE WERE MADE for this world in order to keep our integrity.

Crossing the Unknown Sea
Crossing the Unknown Sea

Poem: Mameen

Be infinitessimal under that sky, a creature

even the sailing hawk misses, a wraith

among the rocks where the mist parts slowly.

Recall the way mere mortals are overwhelmed

by circumstance, how great reputations

dssolve with infirmity and how you,

in particular, live a hairsbreadth from losing

everyone you hold dear.

Then, look back down the path as if seeing

your past and then south over the hazy blue

coast as if present to a wide future.

Remember the way you are all possibilities

you can see and how you live best

as an appreciator of horizons,

whether you reach them or not.

Admit that once you have got up

from your chair and opened the door,

once you have walked out into the clean air

toward that edge and taken the path up high

beyond the ordinary, you have become

the privileged and the pilgrim,

the one who will tell the story

and the one, coming back

from the mountain,

who helped to make it.

~ David Whyte ~ from River Flow

Poem: The Well of Grief


Those who will not slip beneath

the still surface on the well of grief

turning downward through its black water

to the place we cannot breathe

will never know the source from which we drink,

the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering

the small round coins

thrown by those who wished for something else.

~ Davie Whyte, from Many Rivers Meet

Feedback is always welcome . . .

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice lens :P

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You are awesome lens master.! Thanks

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      fantastic lens.

      you are awesome lensmaster.

      I learn a lot from this.

      Thank you.

      Salmon Recipes

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A fantastic lens shared wholesale dropship.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A fantastic lens shared wholesale dropship.

    • jeremiahjpwalto1 profile image


      7 years ago

      A long lens but worth the read

    • jeremiahjpwalto1 profile image


      7 years ago

      A long lens but worth the read

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      He is an inspiration. The light and positive outlook of life he conveyed in his pieces is an eye-opener. Thanks for this lens. I need this, thanksâ¥

    • JakTraks profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Marshall 

      7 years ago from Chicago area

      @kimmanleyort: Thank you for the blessing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Fantastic resource for all things David Whyte. He is an incredible human being. I am just finishing The Heart Aroused, and so many pages are underlined and dog-eared. I love how he has moved beyond publishing books of poetry to get his voice and ideas into the world. Blessed.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I'd never heard of David Whyte. Thank you for thiis feature.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I will read Anam Cara - thanks for the suggestion!

    • efriedman profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the introduction to this poet

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      yeah.. i love too.. toko online

    • DuaneJ profile image


      7 years ago

      very nice and engaging...thanks for the introduction to this poet!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Your selections are very moving... both poems and imagery. Love this lens! David Whyte really cuts to the heart and soul of it all. Deep resonance for me. Thank you for a fabulous experience.

    • avorodisa lm profile image

      avorodisa lm 

      7 years ago

      Good poems!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      cool lens!!!!:D

    • Earlystart profile image


      7 years ago

      Great collection!

      Poetry is as good as the subject it discusses...what greater poetry is out there than the one that talks about the Source of Peace - God, our One and only Creator.

      Check out the sound of such Speech (scroll down to the videos):

    • tlholley717 profile image

      Thomas Holley 

      7 years ago from Evansville, IN

      David Whyte is a great poet and I love "The Well of Grief." A poet that really changed my opinion of poetry and changed the way I write is Billy Collins.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      great and informative lens

    • kguru1979 lm profile image

      kguru1979 lm 

      7 years ago

      Very informative lens...! Thanks for sharing...! Nice poet...!

    • ZenandChic profile image


      7 years ago

      I love poetry and write it myself. Nicely done lens!

    • Asinka profile image

      Asinka Fields 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thanks for dropping by and liking my lens. You have such a good lens here.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! It's a wonderful poem lense! I like it. Wait to see your next great works :)

    • JakTraks profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Marshall 

      7 years ago from Chicago area

      @LadyJasmine LM: I will read Anam Cara - thanks for the suggestion! And thanks for stopping by.

    • LadyJasmine LM profile image

      LadyJasmine LM 

      7 years ago

      Wow, this guy is ~*brilliant*~ . Thanks for putting this lens together, I wasn't familiar with this writer. I'm hooked, now I have to sit down and watch all the videos. :-) Have you read John O'Donahue's "Anam Cara" ? I feel some kind of connection in the way the two men think, you might like it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I LOVE David Whyte, thanks for sharing!

    • ZablonMukuba profile image


      8 years ago

      i love the poem self portrait, that is really deep

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love this! ~ I am featuring this on Poetry Notebook. Very nicely done.

    • Amy Fricano profile image

      Amy Fricano 

      8 years ago from WNY

      art IS a more precise way to describe the world

      a poet to be sure. you,too!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow! Marvelous lens. Great work and wonderful poetry displayed here.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      8 years ago from USA

      Beautiful poetry!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wonderful lens and full of great poetry, 5*.



    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 

      9 years ago

      This lens is beautiful love poetry and this one is amazing! 5*

    • MattTaylor LM profile image

      MattTaylor LM 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for telling me about David Whyte! 5***** from me...


    • ZenandChic profile image


      10 years ago

      Wow! I love his poetry. Great stuff! 5 *****


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