Loaves and Fishes by David Whyte

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

Loaves and Fishes

The news, whatever it is, whatever the source, always seems to be the background of my days – everything from faraway wars to local traffic accidents, covid statistics to political manoeuvring, an endless fount of information. There is only so much of the details that I can take in, much less want to absorb. Forget the news, / and the radio, / and the blurred screen – especially the blurred screen, this new Zoom lifestyle that we have adopted.

This is the time of loaves and fishes. Even with a modicum of biblical training, I recognize the story of the hungry multitudes waiting to be fed. And I hear the poet using that metaphor to say that people right now are hungry, not for food and not for information, but for compassion and generosity and kindness. Perhaps that one good word can come from a poem, offering beauty and comfort in difficult times.

This poem reminds me of a wonderfully succinct line by William Carlos Williams in the same vein: It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there. This is why I read poems more than newspapers, for what I find there, bread for my soul.

12 thoughts on “Loaves and Fishes by David Whyte

  1. I look forward to every post here. Each poem brings comfort and curiosity – just what is needed. I’ve read this one over and over this morning, trying to memorize those last 3 lines. Thank you!

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  2. Oh, yes, Jan, what an important reminder. I too am overwhelmed with toxic information that I consume like a compulsive over-eater. I try to remember to begin my day with at least one poem so my heart gets set right before the rest of the world floods in. Thank you for this!

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  3. I also look forward to every post Jan. Each one touches me and reaches a part of me that has been waiting for these very words to help me express what’s inside. The “loaves and the fishes”; how very appropriate today. Thank you for your insight and for your gift of being attuned to what matters.

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  4. I just love that these poems reach a part of you ‘that has been waiting for these very words to help me express what’s inside’. Thank you for your attunement Sandra. xoxo

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  5. Your observations are always so pithy and heart-felt, poignant and important. Thank you. I am grateful that you take the time to share these poems, and also your very special interpretations thereof.

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  6. I’m touched by your kind words Annie. It is such a pleasure for me to find and share these poems and an added pleasure when someone responds with such heart as you have. Thank you. xoxo Jan

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  7. Dear Jan – I so relate to feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of information, most of it of hardship and peril. Thank you for this wise observation, “people right now are hungry, not for food and not for information, but for compassion and generosity and kindness.” And yes, poetry fills that hunger as you so beautifully reveal, post after post. Love – Mary Lou

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