The House of Belonging: David Whyte

“At the centre of this life
there is a man I want to know again.”

Do we lose something of ourselves as we scurry through life, running to make the next deadline and dealing with the mundane business of day-to-day life? David Whyte’s poems is a reminder of how important it is to come back to yourself and remember who you really are. To belong to yourself again.

Whyte finds his way back to himself though solitude and quiet: a man with no company but “his own/well peopled solitude,/entering/the silences/and chambers/of the heart/to start again.”

Whyte’s various ways of belonging are like ripples: himself and his house at the centre, “the bright home/in which I live”, the “temple of my adult aloneness/and I belong to that aloneness/as I belong to my life”. Moving out from the core are the places that shaped him: Yorkshire, where he is from, and the US, where he lives. The pull of centuries of history bind him to Yorkshire and run in his blood. His new home is a new beginning, an opportunity to be reborn. And finally, the outer ripples encircle those he knows and who are a crucial part of his life.

Whyte’s poetry is sparse and deceptively uncomplicated, packing layers of meaning into simple phrases. And like all good writing, it is something to go back to because each reading yields something new.

I have to thank my sister-in-law Gina for introducing me to David Whyte. Over the last few years, I’ve started reading poetry again, and it is a treat to discover a new poet who speaks to me. I will be going back to this collection time and again.

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