Tunes for a Monday Morning
The value of rest

Gradually returning to oneself....

Flaming June by Fredrick Lord Leighton

For everyone who has been overworking lately, or trying to handle too many Big Life Things at once (including extremes of winter weather), I offer this lovely poem about weariness and restoration from the late (and much missed) Irish poet, philosopher, and Catholic mystic, John O'Donohue:

A study for the Briar Rose series by Sir Edward Burne-JonesA Blessing for One Who is Exhausted

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
A study for the Briar Rose series 3 by Sir Edward Burne-JonesThe desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

A detail from the Briar Rose series by Sir Edward Burne-Jones xTake refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

A study for the Briar Rose series 3 by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

The art above: "Flaming June" by Fredrick Lord Leighton (1830-1896), two color studies  and a drawing for the "Legend of the Briar Rose" series by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), and a detail from one of the completed "Briar Rose" panels (bottom right).


For those in need of repose, a small piece of considered advice:


Curl your soul
Into the camomile calm
Of a water-warm,

Where it pours its form
Like molten peace
Into the mould

Of deep...



Most appropriate for now, thank you. Your blog is lovely. Am a long time fan, starting with The Wood Wife...

Stuart--your lovely poetic response is to the latter part of the Donohue prayer/poem. Mine is to the beginning.

Last Tide

"The tide you never valued has gone out."
—John O’Donoahu, Catholic mystic, poet

Not only has that tide gone out,
I am standing on damp sand
that sucks at my toes.
I see stranded fish, scuttling crabs,
the pearly translucence of jellyfish,
smoothed pieces of old glass,
limp decorations of wrackweed.
This is the desolation of a life
once lived on the crest,
now plowed into the trough.
How fast it has all disappeared.
How final the transformation.
How memory traduces, reduces
the struggle to this one devastating, final

©2014 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

Oh, how I needed to read something like that right now! Thank you!

February finally beat me down to this
lassitude laced into every synapse.
Tra-la the next storm is falling.
Spring? I don't believe in you.

Lovely inspiring post terri,beautifully chosen art and actually I had never hear of this man before! I did feel weary yesterday after working in the library.

This has given me the words I could not find for myself, only yesterday. "you have been forced to enter empty time. The desire that drove you has relinquished." I was at a loss to describe how I have been feeling of late. Thank you for this offering, it has touched something deep in me.

Jane, this is so vivid, stark and 'devastating' to use your word!

I remember family holidays to Skegness, a seaside resort on the east coast of England where the tide would recede for miles to reveal just the sort of chaos you describe in your poem. The sky was often grey too, but as it was reflected in the wet sand it was transformed into a glistening glory of silver that, (had I known the word at such a young age), would have seemed a metaphor for a trust and faith in the future. Your brilliant poem seems so sad and bleak that I hope that such reflections are there for you too; their presence made known in their absence.

I'm fighting a bit within myself to surrender to the exhaustion - bone and soul deep - but this helps to give me permission.

It's been a tough week healthwise, but I seem to have started to dip a toe in the waters again, Stuart. The poem is residue. Thanks for worrying.


I am now emerging from a quiet time - thanks for this lovely post and for the introduction to John O'Donohue. Jane Yolen's poem is so poignant - sometimes it's hard to see new life in the waste. I just picked up a copy of her book "Dragon's Blood" at the used book store where I work, and I discovered that she had signed it, "Dragons forever, Jane Yolen". What a treasure!

Thank you, always seem to know where to guide us for the right words, and Jane and Stuart to follow with lovely interpretation.

So glad you're 'on the mend' as my mother used to say. I always advise chocolate and whiskey as the perfect panacea and cure-all! But only if they're permitted, of course!

that study for the Briar Rose Series by Edward Burnes Jones is sublime, thank you!

Ah yes, we do indeed return to ourselves, gradually. Changed - slightly, or greatly - for having learned that 'new respect.' I am touched by the beauty of this poem, and the responses of both Stuart Hill, and Jane Yolen, as I ponder this over late-morning coffee.

Don't drink and trying to stay away from chocolate!


"You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back."

Wow. That is so the way I feel when I get overwhelmed with busyness. Exactly the way I am feeling now. Thank you, that is so timely, and so beautiful.

I have enjoyed reading all of your comments and the original post.thanks

Beautiful responses, beautiful poetry: thank you so much, everyone. May we all move just a little more slowly and give our souls a chance to return, to rest, to be restored.

'trying to stay away from chocolate...' A truly terrifying thought!

I have a date book with which I've started a new practice based on your blog, Terri. When a poem or a bit of a quote strikes me, I open to a random blank date in the date book and copy it down as a surprise to myself later on in the year. John Donahue's poem provides many quotes that I have taken down and I'm sure they will remind me, just at the time they are needed, to slow down and rest. Thank you!

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