[Rotting Silver] “Be Hard, Be Soft, My Gentle Lover” by B. T. Newberg

Be soft with thyself,

My gentle lover,

Yet in the proper time and place,

Know when to be hard:

Like the flint,

Whose severity sparks a fire

To rattle the doves from the bushes,

Like the prism,

Whose integrity shines

To catch the eagle’s eye,

Like the oak,

Whose power endures

To bear the weight of creatures,

Like the plowshare,

Whose courage descends

To raze the bones of the dead,

And like the tentpole,

Whose uprightness rises

To support the home.


Are these things hard, my love?

But my way is not hard.

Above all be soft,

Like the water through reeds,

Whose cohesion yields

To reach the inmost depths,

Like the flying kite,

Whose principle bends

To cup the powering winds,

Like the falling leaf,

Whose pride detaches

To fly a final moment,

Like the melting snow,

Whose possessions share out

To moisten the seedling’s root,

And like the inner palm,

Whose tenderness opens

To charity and pain.


Know when to be hard,

My gentle lover,

But above all be soft,

For only in softness do you perceive

The subtle breath upon your neck,

Or the whisper when I pass beneath.


Image Credit: “De Anima” by Menerva Tau

Rotting Silver is a column devoted to this Earth in all its tarnished radiance: poetry, prose, and parables of ugliness alloyed with joy.

This piece was first published at The Witch’s Voice.

The Author

B. T. Newberg

B. T. Newberg:  Since the year 2000, B. T. has been practicing meditation and ritual from a naturalistic perspective. He currently volunteers as Education Director for the Spiritual Naturalist Society, where he created and now teaches an online course in naturalistic spirituality (including Naturalistic Paganism!). His writings can also be found at Patheos and Pagan Square, as well as right here at HP.

Professionally, he teaches English as a Second Language, and hopes to begin a PhD program in the psychology of religion soon.  After living in Minnesota, England, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea, he currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and cat.

After founding HumanisticPaganism.com in 2011 and serving as managing editor till 2013, he now serves as advising editor, and feels blessed to be a part of this community.


%d bloggers like this: