Donald Lee Ravey - 22 July 1929 - 22 August 2014

Poetry, Philosophy & Prayers
that have enriched and inspired me during my life;
I hope you will find them worthwhile, too --

The Prayer of St. Francis  
When All the World Is Young (English traditional song)
13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens
Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Moments of Happiness by T. S. Eliot
The Journey by James Michener
In the Time of Your Life by William Saroyan
Ode to Retirement by Donald Ravey

The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
And where there is sadness, joy.

Oh, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

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When All The World Is Young

When all the world is young, lad,
And all the leaves are green,
And ev'ry goose a swan, lad,
And ev'ry lass a queen,
Then Hey! for boot and saddle, lad,
And 'round the world away!
Young blood must have his course, lad,
And ev'ry dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
And all the leaves are brown,
And all the sports are stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down,
Creep home and find your place there,
The sick and maimed among.
God grant you find one face there
You loved when you were young.

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

    I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendoes,
    The blackbird whistling
             Or just after.
                     ...

                          -- Wallace Stevens 

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Desiderata

      Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
       And remember what peace there may be in silence.

      As far as possible, without surrender,
       Be on good terms with all persons.

      Speak your truth quietly and clearly
       And listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant;
        they, too, have their story.

      If you compare yourself with others,
       you may become vain and bitter,
       For always there will be greater and lesser persons
       than yourself.

      Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
        It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

      Exercise caution in your business affairs,
        for the world is full of trickery;
      But do not let this blind you to what virtue there is;
      Many persons strive for high ideals
        and everywhere life is filled with heroism.

      Be yourself.  Especially, do not feign affection;
        neither be cynical about love,
      For, in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
        it is perennial as the grass.

      Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune,
        But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
      Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

      Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
      You are a child of the universe,
       no less than the trees and the stars.
      You have the right to be here.

      And, whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt
        the universe is unfolding as it should.

      Therefore, be at peace with God  whatever you may
        conceive Him to be,
      And in the noisy confusion of life,
        make peace with your Soul.

      With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
        It is still a beautiful world.
      Be careful.
      Strive to be happy.
  
                             -- Max Ehrmann

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The Prophet Speaks of Love

Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.
And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them.
And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you, yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you, believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth, so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's theshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

-- Khalil Gibran

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The Moments of Happiness

The moments of happiness ...
We had the experience but missed the meaning.
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness ...
...the past experience revived in the meaning
Is not the experience of one life only
But of many generations -- not forgetting
Something that is possibly quite ineffable ...

-- from T. S. Eliot "The Dry Salvages" in Four Quartets
   (used as the prelude to the Second Act of Cats! by Andrew Lloyd Webber)
	

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The Journey

 It's like coming home to yourself at last.
   For this is the journey that men make:  to find themselves.
     If they fail in this, it doesn't matter much what else they find.
     Money, position, fame, many loves, revenge ..
       all are of little consequence,
       and when the tickets are collected at the end of the ride,
       they are tossed into the bin marked failure.

  But if a man happens to find himself --
    if he knows what he can be depended upon to do,
      the limits of his courage,
      the positions from which he will no longer retreat,
      the degree to which he can surrender his inner life to some woman,
      the secret reservoirs of his determination,
      the extent of his dedication,
      the depth of his feeling for beauty,
      his honest and unpostured goals --

  then he has found a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity
  all the days of his life.

                                              -- James Michener

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In the Time of your Life

In the time of your life, live --
so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death
for yourself or for any life your life touches.

Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found,
bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed.

Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values,
for these are the things that hold death and must pass away.

Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption.

Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world.

Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart.

Be the inferior of no man, nor of any men be superior.
Remember that every man is a variation of yourself.

No man's guilt is not yours, nor is any man's innocence a thing apart.

Despise evil and ungodliness,
but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand.

Have no shame in being kindly and gentle
but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill,
kill and have no regret.

In the time of your life, live --
so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world,
but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.

                                   -- William Saroyan

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Ode to Retirement - December, 1989

In the style of Robert Service

	Farewell to the Battle of the Bayshore;
	Adios, So Long and See You Afterwhile.
	Sayonara, no more traffic jams to slow me;
	Au revoir, I leave you with a smile.

	The time has come to put away the suit coat
	I wore for years from dawn to setting sun,
	As I struggled in and out of vicious traffic
	That clogged the lanes of highway one oh one.

	Auf Wiederseh'n to those whom I'll remember;
	Adieu to daily fifty mile round trips.
	Hasta Luego and Good Riddance, Santa Clara;
	Arrividerci, Valley of the Chips.

	Finito, all those endless, boring meetings
	That served, at best, as alibis for work;
	I'll no more have to sit and hear the whining
	Of someone whom I classify a jerk.

	Goodbye, I feel no tugging of the heart-strings;
	It's all over now, so let our glasses meet.
	In closing, let these verses tell the story
	Of an era past, a narrative complete.

	When history is written of this venture,
	Some author will research it and allow
	That somewhere, somehow, someone made some errors;
	But I don't care - it's time that I say, Ciao!
	
	                         Donald Ravey

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