Tuesday, April 30, 2013

John Moffitt: "To Look at Anything"

To look at any thing,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:
To look at this green and say,
"I have seen spring in these
Woods," will not do—you must
Be the thing you see:
You must be the dark snakes of
Stems and ferny plumes of leaves,
You must enter in
To the small silences between
The leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace
They issue from.

"To Look at Anything" by John Moffitt, from Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach, edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner. © Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Photography credit: "New Zealand Tree Fern Fronds" by Pieter Pieterse, 2005 (originally color).



  1. This poem is excellent, I like it seems to deal with liminal spaces, like the 'small silence between leaves'

  2. I memorized this poem back in the 1970s, and have loved having it in my mind's pocket. It quickly puts me in touch with the deep peace behind it all. Nowadays it is my favorite meditative mantra. Daily, each morning, I think it slowly, as I breathe, and by the last line, I'm there. Posthumous thanks, Sir, Mr. John Moffett.

  3. I think you are attributing this poem to the wrong John Moffitt.

    1. Can you say more, please? I try to do my due diligence. If I'm in error, help me out. I'll be grateful.

  4. To my knowledge, the poem was first published in 1966, in “Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle and other modern verse.”


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