The Poetry of Earth


“The poetry of earth is never dead:

When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,

And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run

From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;

That is the Grasshopper’s – he takes the lead

In summer luxury, – he has never done

With his delights; for when tired out with fun

He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.”

John Keats

“On the Grasshopper and Cricket”


My young grandson and I spend time each week listening to the summer hummers and buzzers in the trees and the grass – cicadas, grasshoppers, bees. Take a moment to listen to the sounds of summer – bugs, birds, water splashing from a garden hose, children at play, even the whir of an air conditioner. Let the sounds of summer refresh your spirit. Nurture peace. Cultivate kindness. Carry the calm.

Nature of the week:

Shadow of the Week:

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Text and photos © 2019 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Chekhov’s 4 Qualities of Great Art

“In any true, great piece of art you will always find four qualities which the artist has put into his creation,” said actor and director Michael Chekhov. He calls those qualities the “Four Brothers”: a feeling of Ease, a feeling of Form, a feeling of Beauty, and a feeling of the Whole.

I just spent the afternoon at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, which is itself a work of art, built in the early 1930’s inFrist1 classicism and Art Deco styles. Ease, Form, Beauty, Wholeness, the building fits Chekhov’s definition perfectly. The main gallery is currently exhibiting a collection from a noble family in Spain, the House of Alba, which includes paintings by artists like Titian, Goya, Velasquez, and Rubens. Many of the paintings are portraits from as early as the 15th century, and it’s interesting not only to see how the people dressed and wore their hair but also to notice what else they wanted in the painting. As one description of the exhibit points out, “[A] portrait declares his or her intellectual interests, social standing, and values. Crowns, gowns, hairstyles jewelry, military insignia, musical instruments and pets all give us insight into . . . how he or she wanted to be remembered.”

Because, really, it’s the person, not the painting who is the greater work of art. We who are roaming the galleries are the masterpieces. In fact, in one version of ancient scriptures, St. Paul says, “We are God’s masterpiece” or poiéma in ancient Greek, which technically means creation or workmanship but became the word for, yes, poetry or poem.

It just so happens that April is National Poetry Month – a perfect time to think of ourselves as living, breathing poems, as works of art. I suspect that’s why Chekhov’s “Four Brothers,” those feelings of great art, call to the deepest places in us. Great art resonates with the desire of our souls for ease, form, beauty, and wholeness.

Great art calls to the art that is you. You are the art, the poem, the masterpiece. As you meditate this week, breathe into that place of ease, feel and accept yourself in your own unique form and beauty, and open your spirit to the wholeness that is around you and within you.

Nourish peace, cultivate loving kindness, and carry the calm.

Nature photo of the week:


Shadow of the Week:


Text and photos © 2016 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.


Far Away in the Sunshine

The Poetry of Life

“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.”

Gustave Flaubert


Robert Penn Warren said, “[I]n the end, the poem is not a thing we see – it is, rather, a light by which we may see – and what we see is life.” This week, look for the poetry, the emotional echo, in an object, a place, or an event this week. “We all write poems,” said John Fowles, “it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words.”

Nourish peace, cultivate lovingkindness, and carry the calm.

Shadow of the Week:


Nature photo of the week:



Text and photos © 2014 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.