The Valley Of Pain

We were exiled from the Garden of Eden.
Its sinless wonders nevermore to regain.
So every man on life's toilsome journey,
Must enter the valley of pain.

We don't enter because of desire
And it's certainly not a voluntary fare.
But, rather, it's a matter of destiny
Compelling and forcing us there.

Eden's garden; its beauty so magnificent,
Can't be reclaimed; it is a lost paradise.
Trees of knowledge and life gone forever,
We are now paying consequences price.

The valley of pain is bleak and lonely,
And all heartache must be suffered alone.
The petty and trite ceases to matter.
When facing hurt as never before known.

In pain's valley, no restaurants exist.
Shopping malls can't be found anywhere.
There's no joy to be had from entertainment.
There are no parks, for it is no picnic there.

There are no banks in the valley of pain,
No theaters, no lounges, no beach.
In this valley, we have no lofty aspirations,
Surviving the only goal we hope to reach.

Pain's valley in not a poor man's haven;
We'll find no comfort, or ease or rest.
Nor will we encounter family or friends
For this valley is one's own personal test.

Bitter anguish is experienced in this valley,
A site of conflict on a titanic scale.
A place of failing and spiritual torture,
Of deficiency and interminable travail.

When we enter the valley of pain,
We no longer worry about unpaid bills.
We don't fret about outstanding car notes,
We don't care about acquiring new skills.

When we enter the valley of pain,
We don't dabble in vain vanity.
For this valley inevitably drives us,
To the very brink of human sanity.

When we enter the valley of pain
Family prayer just will not do.
Praying in the church is insufficient,
And social prayer is inadequate too.

We must find our own secret hideaway
Close the door to the world and all its strife.
We must surrender ourselves to our God
And let Him work a miracle in our life.

Saundra L. Washington is the author of two coffee table books: "Negative Disturbances, Homilies that Teach," and the book from which this poem is taken, "Room Beneath the Snow, Poems that Preach." She can be contacted at: http://www.clergyservices4u.org

In The News:


Opinionator | Poetry Kept My Patient Alive
New York Times (blog)
Steve, my patient, fancied himself a poet, first and foremost. Brilliant, yet sadly bedeviled by schizoaffective disorder — a condition somewhere between schizophrenia and bipolar — he feared he would die before his gift was discovered. “I think I'm ...


Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Cowboy Poetry Festival is 'dad burn' fun
Salt Lake Tribune
(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jay "Bo" Dean from Helena, Montana, plays his guitar at the Cowboy Legends Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival at the Fielding-Garr Ranch on Antelope Island, Saturday, May 23, 2015.


Asheville Citizen-Times

Book thief vents rage on laureate's poetry with shotgun
Asheville Citizen-Times
Two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins has been blasted by critics before but never this literally. Miegan and Chan Gordon, the veteran booksellers of rare and used books at The Captain's Bookshelf, have the proof that poetry, long mourned as dead ...

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Reconstructing two poets who suffered taking the middle path
Buffalo News
Here are two 20th century American poets who took the path less traveled – the middle path – and their reputations suffered for it, at least during their lifetimes. But now major retrospectives are underway, rebuilding their reputations. And showing ...


Poetry contest helps locked-up youth find their voices
Washington Post
Reif submitted Javon's poem to a national poetry competition for locked-up youth called Words Unlocked. On May 21, judges named Javon's poem — “Bradenton,” about a Florida neighborhood where he had lived — as the winner. His was the best of 15 ...

and more »

Financial Times

Souad Massi's homage to Arabic poetry
Financial Times
The words are not those of the Algerian-born singer-songwriter but of Abou el Kacem Chebbi, a Tunisian modernist poet whose face is on the country's 10 dinar banknote. A Byronic Romantic with a weak heart, he died young in 1934, but his poem “To the ...


Daily Mail

Maro Itoje reveals how his love of poetry and politics comes second only to ...
Daily Mail
With studying and fulfilling his rugby commitments, his poetry has suffered. 'I think some people have made me come across as if I'm some sort of William Shakespeare but I'm not,' he jokes. 'It's just a little hobby that I do from time to time but ...

and more »

Myrtle Beach Sun News

Reading Corner | 'Looking Around' offers accessible poetry for everyone
Myrtle Beach Sun News
“Looking Around,” by South Strand resident Jim R. Rogers, is a poetry collection that celebrates the unique messages in ordinary objects and events, available to us by being sensitive to the world around us. Rogers captures the joy and sorrow ...


American Life in Poetry: May 23
Ames Tribune
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright 2014 by Terri Kirby ...


Chicago Tribune

Library recognizes teen poets
Chicago Tribune
Niles Poetry contest first place winner Nick Carsello (left), second place winner Jessica Uy (second from left) and Sara Starecheski, who earned on Honorable Mention (right) pose with Weston Clark (third from left). (Igor Studenkov, Pioneer Press).

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