Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Poem - "Kindness" 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 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.

     -- Naomi Shihab Nye

There are many fine poets in the world (including all my fellow Tuesday Poets on the blogroll) and not enough time in one lifetime to discover and read all the fine poets, both alive and dead, out there in the big, wide world.

I have a poetry aficionado friend in Wellington to thank for introducing me to this wonderful poem by a poet I had never heard of.

I love this poem because I think you'd go a long way to find such a wonderful, rich and poetic encapsulation of the concept of kindness. A simple act of kindness performed from the heart can lift a person's spirit and enrich their day.

If you'd like to know more about this poet, Naomi Shihab Nye, see:


And then you can kindly proceed to read some of the wonderful offerings of my fellow Tuesday Poets at the blogroll at:



  1. That is indeed a lovely poem - and it goes well with "They tuck you up" below. It's good to see poems that are n=both so positive and so well-written!

  2. Thanks for this Andrew. it's a gift to be held close.

  3. A very moving and thoughtful poem: thank you for sharing it here, Andrew.

  4. Loved this poem, beautiful, thanks very much for posting it :)