Whyte Lectures About Death, Life, and Perserverance

David Whyte, renowned poet and lecturer, visited EMU this past Saturday, Feb. 22. His focus at EMU revolved around several topics, one of which included the art of asking the “beautiful question.”

A few themes that pervaded the lecture were death and loss, how to deal with these struggles, and the subsequent result of our own psyche and perseverance through life.

David Whyte makes his home in the Pacific Northwest. The sprawling mountains, open expanses, and old forests perhaps speak for his love of the natural world and the questions it poses for our existence. He holds a degree in marine zoology, and formerly worked as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands, the Andes region, the Amazon, and the Himalayas.

Whyte interprets and promotes his views through his poetry. He experiences the best of three worlds: the literary vantage point of a writer, the theological repercussions of philosophical questioning, and the realm of vocational leadership opportunities.

His poems often draw comparisons between his theological musings and the natural world. For instance, in his poem “Ten Years Later,” he begins with, “When the mind is clear and the surface of the now still, now swaying water slaps against the rolling kayak…” The conclusions he draws, or perhaps questions, are set on nature’s stage.

Whyte’s consistent comparisons of the human life to life in the natural world speak for his ability to find relationships in everything.

In the same poem he concludes that, “Innocence is what we allow to be gifted back to us once we’ve given ourselves away.” He draws this conclusion from observing a sea breeze playing on the wildflowers covering the rocky shoreline.

In another poem, “Loaves and Fishes,” the analogy to Jesus’ loaves and fishes miracle is intentional, and themes of preserving the natural world still continue. It is a short poem, and poetically terse. “This is not the age of information,” he writes. “Forget the news and the radio and the blurred screen.”

He calls for a renewed sense of love shown to the natural world.

Above all, he uses nature in his works as a vessel for his true intentions: promoting a need for increased creativity in today’s work environments.

-Chris Yoder, Staff Writer


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