“Beyond Santiago” by David Whyte

Beyond Santiago

Death is so simple,
one moment
you are alive
and then,
you are not.

And that fear
you carry with you
might be
equally as simple too,

that you’ll
never have
the time
to accomplish
what you wish.

But stop
a moment now,
before the way
and let me
tell you this.

You will go
out of this life
having completed
every single thing
you wished.

You will
in that night like
a new born child
loving arms.

You will find
in that long
the ultimate form
of forgiveness

fearful goodbye
suddenly become,
a gentle
getting to know,

a getting to know
of a forgiveness
that was strangely
always anticipated,
a welcome
and a full understanding
of all you ever did,

everything you gave
and everything
you were given,
and then everything
you could never give,
and above all
everything you
could never
bring yourself
to receive,

those unattainable
that always
broke your heart
and the gifted
of why it was so hard
for you to love,

and then
and most importantly
and right to the heart,

everything you were
and everything you gave,
that was never,
ever, on your list.



If you were to ask me in the busy, lighted hours of the day whether I believed in an after-life I would have to say that I am firmly neutral on the matter, with an accompanying practical sense, passed down from my father’s Yorkshire, that we will all find out soon enough. But every now and again in the deeper states of attention and letting go, necessary to the writing of good poetry, there emerges a physical sense of a deeper and surer foundation in the body: and beneath even that, a voice from an inner, tidal core identity, which displays absolutely no neutrality at all.


David Whyte, 1955–

© 2022 David Whyte
“Beyond Santiago” from Still Possible

Photo by Travis Essinger on Unsplash

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