Poem about Radical Forgiveness


Forgiveness or anger? Its your choice....
Forgiveness or anger? Its your choice….


To begin and there is so much to forgive

for one, your parents, one and two,

out of whose dim haphazard coupling

you sprang forth roaring, indignantly alive.

For this, whatever else followed,

innocent and guilty, forgive them.

If it is day, forgive the sun its white radiance

blinding the eye;

forgive also the moon for dragging the tides,

for her secrets, her half heart of darkness;

whatever the season, forgive it its various assaults

— floods, gales, storms of ice —

and forgive its changing; for its vanishing act,

stealing what you love and what you hate,

indifferent, forgive time;

and likewise forgive its fickle consort, memory

which fades the photographs of all you can’t remember;

forgive forgetting, which is chaste and kinder

than you know; forgive your age and the age you were when happiness was afire in your blood

and joy sang hymns in the trees;

forgive, too, those trees, which have died;

and forgive death for taking them, inexorable  as God; then forgive God His terrible grandeur, His unspeakable Name

forgive, too, the poor devil for a celestial falll no worse than your own.

When you have forgiven whatever is of earth, of sky, of water, whatever is named, whatever remains nameless


forgive, finally, your own sorry self, clothed in temporary flesh,

the breath and blood of you already dying.

Dying, forgiven, now you begin.


by Pamela Spiro Wagner in “We Mad Climb Shaky Ladders” (Cavakerry Press 2009) also featured in “Divided Minds: twin sisters and their Journey through  schizophrenia.”

5 thoughts on “Poem about Radical Forgiveness”

  1. Pam, I love this poem. Makes me think of all the forgiving that I have done and all the forgiving that I still need to do. My favorite parts are about forgiving memory and forgetting and how when you were young happiness was afire in your blood…..wow those are some beautiful lines right there! You are so talented! Hope all is well with you.

    Matt is now 29 and doing OK. Still trying to find a better drug for him. Latuda is the latest one he has been on. Not sure yet if it is any better than the others.

    Keep up the great work.
    Love, Sue


  2. Lyrical, insightful and wise. Thank you.

    This part hit me the hardest:

    “forgive your age and the age you were when happiness was afire in your blood”

    My son was such a happy little boy. He sings, “Looking back, grinding teeth, good times are the worst… beautiful and cursed.”

    I often ruminate, going from one bad memory to another until I catch myself and force a new topic on my brain. I look at something that was positive. Then I realize I’ll never surf again at my age. And I see the four dolphins who said goodbye to me the last time I surfed Rencon. I need to forgive the good times, too. It’s like you say.


  3. I love this poem for its philosophicalness, for its ability to make me think of the good in the bad and the bad in the good and to make me realize that putting blame or judgment on any particular piece of reality makes little sense. It’s all one grand dance. I especially love the last stanza: forgiving the self, and realizing that everything that looks like an ending is just a beginning in disguise.


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