Embodiment Poetry: Celebrating the Body

What are your favorite poems that celebrate the body?

Today like every other day
We wake up empty and scared.
Don’t open the door of your study
And begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do
There are hundreds of way to kneel
And kiss the earth.
– Rumi

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
Dream Work (1986)
You do not have to be good
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that. You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied. You say you have lost all recollection of it, remember. You know how to avoid meeting a bear on the track. You know the winter fear when you hear the wolves gathering. But you can remain seated for hours in the tree-tops to await morning. You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not exist. But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent.
– Monique WittigLes Guerilleres

Bird Wings by Rumi
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
if it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.

from A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin
The wise [girl] is one
who never sets [herself] apart
from other living things,
whether they have speech or not,
and in later years [she] strove long
to learn what can be learned,
in silence,
from the eyes of animals,
the flight of birds,
the great slow gestures of trees.