A poem for a season of waiting

If you’re like me, you might be finding it difficult to be patient in this season. Everyone’s waiting for something whether it’s term paper deadlines, seeing friends and family who’ve been at opposite ends of the country, or a break from the  9-5 grind.

Galway Kinnel‘s poem called “Wait” was in the Writer’s Almanac recently and the message it holds for me is that the process of waiting is just as important as getting what you want. Before the poem, here’s a little background about Kinnel because he had an interesting life.

He grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and spent his childhood reading Emily Dickinson and Egar Allan Poe. After attending Princeton and traveling around the world, he returned to the U.S. in the 60s when he got involved in the Civil Rights Movement and also published his first book of poetry. He said, “It’s the poet’s job to figure out what’s happening within oneself, to figure out the connection between the self and the world, and to get it down in words that have a certain shape, that have a chance of lasting.” Kinnell spent his final years living in Vermont until his death.


by Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become interesting.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a little and listen:
music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.


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