“Via Negativa”, A Winter Poem


Via Negativa, as I understand it, (and as I read Matthew Fox’ “Original Blessing” book) is an acceptance of the Dark, of Silence, of Unknowing, of Stillness, of Unknowing the voice of God, of just Waiting. Well, it seems that this season, this Winter, is the perfect time to make our peace with the Via Negativa. Perhaps to gather our energies, to sit and stare out the window at nothing, to draw nearer a low fire, to feel empty and to feel the void around us. To await the next cycle…or spiral…of Via Creativa, that of Spring and all that means…all that blooming, tender energy. So a small poem came out of this ‘silent’ path, this new concept of Via Negativa. It fit the gray outside and and gave some sense to this time.

Lady Nyo


Via Negativa

Winter is the perfect channel

To carry Via Negativa,

No static

Just Silence, Stillness

And the embracing Dark.

On this path,

We sit in contemplation,

relish the early dusks,

No answers,

No struggle,

We empty ourselves of movement.

This time is filled by little outside;

A flash of darting cardinal

Like a thin stream of blood

racing past our eyes,

The sound of a falling limb

makes us search the skies,

The moaning of the wind

rushing around eaves

soothes us,

the rattle of skeleton- bones

Of attic haunts

does not disturb us.

These are part of this path,

this dark quietude of a particular season.

And yes, Death,

As Winter brings

To those who succumb to frigid winds,

And those lost from shelter.

We spiral into the Darkness,

Where we barely need breath,


Conserve our energy,

And stare outside at such

A severe palette.

Stilling ourselves,

stilling our hearts and thoughts,

We draw closer to low fires,

Scratch our dried skin

Like a monk in a hair shirt,

And, with time and patience–

spiral back into the light of Spring.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

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19 Responses to ““Via Negativa”, A Winter Poem”

  1. Tony Says:

    I love the affirmation of what is through the description of what is not a true via negativa. NIcely written.


  2. claudia Says:

    i can’t wait to spiral back into the light of spring…even though i like winter…it has its challenges though…wonderful vivid capture…felt..


  3. Aria Says:

    So true…exactly where I’m at. Story writing mode:)


  4. Yousei Hime Says:

    I liked that imagine (the young fern) so much that I included it in the poem I posted today. 🙂 Enjoyed what you did with it too.


  5. wolfsrosebud Says:

    love all the sensory elements of this piece… great details


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, wolfsrosebud. I struggle with all of this…especially the dark.

    Lady Nyo


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Yousei Hime….I’ll read your poem….and thank you for reading mine.

    Lady Nyo


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Story writing is like our breath. It carries us further into life and love. Into the dark heart of imagination.

    Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Claudia…for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  10. brian miller Says:

    life cycles like that you know…fields must go fallow to replenish and we as well with the cycle of the day (until we fooled ourselves by inventing light and 24 hour superstores) seasons come and go, each with their purpose…some more enjoyable than other but each with their turn…new light and life will come….


  11. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks for reading, Brian.



  12. Gretchen Leary Says:

    The final stanza was my favorite. A peaceful spiral of light and warmth in my mind.


  13. ayala Says:

    A beautiful and moving poem.


  14. Heaven (@asweetlust) Says:

    Love your interpretation of winter ~ For me its a long deep sleep ~

    The nature details in the third stanza is beautiful but my fav lines are:

    These are part of this path,
    this dark quietude of a particular season.


  15. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Heaven. This poem I could have done more, but then again, perhaps I was ‘influenced’ by the bare bones of the season.

    Thank you for reading and your comment.



  16. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you! Ayala…for reading and your comment.



  17. ladynyo Says:

    Gretchen, I’m glad it evokes something for you.



  18. Laura Hegfield Says:

    Jane this is wonderful! Thank you:-)


  19. ladynyo Says:

    You are welcome, Laura!!




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