Beauty Will Save the World


Beauty Will Save the World.   — Fyodor Dostoevsky

Do you believe that?  Or do you believe Dostoevsky was full it and his phrase is sentimental nonsense?

I know beauty won’t solve everything, but more and more I believe it has saving power.  I lost faith in it about nine years ago.  I stopped writing poetry and didn’t write for approximately six years.  I couldn’t see what my poetry was adding to the world.  I felt despair about the Iraq War, the arrogant actions of the Bush Administration, and our culture’s narrow and revolting focus on reducing everything to utilitarian and economic ends.

But then I woke up.  I needed to write.  I needed poetry in my life.  I felt less of a human and less of who I am without it in my life on a daily basis. 

And I need to share beauty with other humans.

And I think this is true for all humans.  We need the mysterious and profound in our lives.  We need art and beauty as antidotes to the relentless pragmatism, efficiency, and results-focus that is prevalent in our culture.

And we need to share beauty in community.

We aren’t just about getting things done.  We are better than that.  We need beauty to be the imaginative, compassionate, and caring people we can be.

Beauty isn’t just about poetry and art.  It can have many looks.  Redemption is beautiful.  Forgiveness is beautiful, and the acts of these in public is incredibly beautiful.

 The world desperately needs beauty.  We need places where people can stand together and be uplifted in its presence.

A task of leadership is to bring beauty into the room.

Image: Nosha

Blood, Imagination and Intellect

“It is blood, imagination, intellect running together . . . . it bids us touch and taste and hear and see the world, and shrink from all that is of the brain only.”

-William Butler Yeats

Was Yeats talking about poetry or leadership?

He was referring to poetry, but he could have been talking about leadership.

The work of leadership is more than of the brain.

It is of the heart, spirit and soul too.

Image:  bedrocan

Death and Life

For the Anniversary of My Death


Every year without knowing it I have passed the day

When the last fires will wave to me

And the silence will set out

Tireless Traveler

Like the beam of a lightless star


Then I will no longer

Find myself in life as in a strange garment

Surprised at the earth

And the love of one woman

And the shamelessness of men

As today writing after three days of rain

Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease

And bowing not knowing to what

–W. S. Merwin. From The Lice (Atheneum) Copyright (c) 1967 by W. S. Merwin.


Although this poem is partially about the finality of death, it is cheerful,  incredibly beautiful, and uplifting.

It is a wonderful reminder of the beauty on this planet, here and now.

It is a wonderful reminder that even in the midst of hard times,  challenges and despair, life is lovely if we only shift our focus and look around.

It is also a wonderful reminder about the importance of mystery.  We know very little of death and life.

A task of leadership is to instill hope and not to offer it falsely but to offer it authentically.

Acknowledging the truth first, as Merwin acknowledges that we will all die, opens the door to genuine hope.

Wren Image:  Seabamirum