top of page
Meditating on hillside

   Poems for the 9 Types

Poetry speaks to and moves our souls.

My hope is that your Enneagram Journey awakens your soul

and you become the poet, as Mary Oliver describes in "your one wild and precious life."

Please check out these Poets and all of their work at a bookstore near you.

~Margaret

He Attempts to Love his Neighbours
~ Alden Nowlan 
Poem for the Type 2

My neighbours do not wish to be loved.
They have made it clear that they prefer to go peacefully
about their business and want me to do the same.
This ought not to surprise me as it does;
I ought to know by now that most people have a hundred things
they would rather do than have me love them.

There is television, for instance; the truth is that almost everybody,
given the choice between being loved and watching TV,
would choose the latter. Love interrupts dinner,
interferes with mowing the lawn, washing the car,
or walking the dog. Love is a telephone ringing or a doorbell
waking you moments after you’ve finally succeeded in getting to sleep.

So we must be careful, those of us who were born with
the wrong number of fingers or the gift
of loving; we must do our best to behave
like normal members of society and not make nuisances
of ourselves; otherwise it could go hard with us.
It is better to bite back your tears, swallow your laughter,
and learn to fake the mildly self-deprecating titter
favoured by the bourgeoisie
than to be left entirely alone, as you will be,
if your disconformity embarrasses
your neighbours; I wish I didn’t keep forgetting that.

Author Alden Nowlan from Selected Poems

Failing and Flying
~Jack Gilbert
Poem for the Type 3

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Author Jack Gilbert from Refusing Heaven

So Much Happiness
~Naomi Shihab Nye
Poem for the Type 4

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.


Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records.

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

 

Author Naomi Shihab Nye from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye.

The Way the Light Reflects
~Richard Siken
Poem for the Type 5

The paint doesn’t move the way the light reflects,
so what’s there to be faithful to? I am faithful
to you, darling. I say it to the paint.
 The bird floats
in the unfinished sky with nothing to hold it.
The man stands, the day shines. His insides and
his outsides kept apart with an imaginary line—
thick and rude and imaginary because there is
no separation
, fallacy of the local body, paint
on paint. I have my body and you have yours.
Believe it if you can. Negative space is silly.
When you bang on the wall you have to remember
you’re on both sides of it already but go ahead,
yell at yourself
. Some people don’t understand
anything. They see the man but not the light,
they see the field but not the varnish. There is no
light in the paint, so how can you argue with them?
They are probably right anyway. I paint in his face
and I paint it out again. There is a question
I am afraid to ask: to supply the world with what?

Author Richard Aiken from Track 1 on War of the Foxes

Start Close In
~David Whyte
Poem for the Type 6

Start close in,
don’t take the second step 
or the third, 
start with the first thing 
close in,
the step you don’t want to take. 

Start with the ground you know,
the pale ground beneath your feet,
your own way to begin the conversation. 

Start with your own question,
give up on other people’s questions,
don’t let them smother something simple. 

To hear another’s voice,
follow your own voice,
wait until that voice becomes a private ear
that can really listen to another.

Start right now
take a small step you can call your own
don’t follow someone else’s heroics, 
be humble and focused,
start close in
don’t mistake that other for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take the second step 
or the third,
start with the first thing 
close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

What’s your first step? The one you don’t want to take?

Author David Whythe from River Flow: New & Selected Poems

The Guest House
~Rumi
Poem for the Type 7

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Author Rumi from Selected Poems

Made From Bone
~Mark Nepo
Poem for the Type 8

One day you finally knew
What you had to do, and began, Though the voices around you

Kept shouting
Their bad advice‚
Though the whole house
Began to tremble
And you felt the old tug
At your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
Each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do, Though the wind pried
With its stiff fingers
At the very foundations‚ Though their melancholy
Was terrible.
It was already late
Enough, and a wild night,
And the road full of fallen Branches and stones.
But little by little,
As you left their voices behind,

The stars began to burn

Through the sheets of clouds,

And there was a new voice,

Which you slowly
Recognized as your own,
That kept you company
As you strode deeper and deeper

Into the world,
Determined to do
The only thing you could do‚ Determined to save
The only life you could save.

Author Mary Oliver from Dream Work

The Journey
~Mary Oliver
Poem for the Type 9

One day you finally knew
What you had to do, and began, Though the voices around you Kept shouting
Their bad advice‚
Though the whole house
Began to tremble
And you felt the old tug
At your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
Each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do, Though the wind pried
With its stiff fingers
At the very foundations‚ Though their melancholy
Was terrible.
It was already late
Enough, and a wild night,
And the road full of fallen Branches and stones.
But little by little,
As you left their voices behind, The stars began to burn Through the sheets of clouds, And there was a new voice, Which you slowly
Recognized as your own,
That kept you company
As you strode deeper and deeper Into the world,
Determined to do
The only thing you could do‚ Determined to save
The only life you could save.

Author Mary Oliver from Dream Work

Good Girl
~Molly Peacock
Poem for the Type 1

Hold up the universe, good girl.

Hold up the tent that is the sky of your world at which
you are the narrow center pole, good girl.

Rupture is the enemy. Keep all whole. The itch
to be yourself, plump and bending, below a sky
unending, held up by God forever
is denied by you as Central Control. Sever
yourself, poor false Atlas, poor “Atlesse,” [1] lie 
recumbent below the sky. Nothing falls down,
except you, luscious and limited on the ground.
Holding everything up, always on your own,
creates a loneliness so profound
you are nothing but a column, good girl,
a temple ruin against a sky held up
by forces beyond you. Let yourself curl
up: a fleshy fetal figure cupped
about its own vibrant soul. You are
the universe about its pole. God’s not far.

 

[1] Atlas: "one of the older family of gods, who was supposed to hold up the pillars of the universe, and also of the mountain in Libya that was regarded as supporting the heavens" (OED). "Atlesse": supposed feminine and diminutive form of "Atlas."

Author Molly Peacock from Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002 

What to Remember When Waking
~David Whyte
A Poem for the Enneagram Journey

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

 

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

 

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

 

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

 

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?

Author David Whyte from The House of Belonging

bottom of page