Praise to the Rituals That Celebrate Change, a poem by Dana Gioia

High school graduation and university commencement celebrate major life transitions. The changes that come after are rarely celebrated with the same pomp and ceremony. For today’s Friday poem, Dana Gioia recognizes the rituals and suggests “the old be touched by youth’s wayward astonishment at learning something new…”

Change is the essence of our world today. At work and in life small quakes and seismic shifts alter our direction. We adapt and transition. Perhaps we should celebrate change, our evolution, with ritual and recognition. Eliminate the fear and reward transformation.

Praise to the Rituals That Celebrate Change

Praise to the rituals that celebrate change,
old robes worn for new beginnings,
solemn protocol where the mutable soul,
surrounded by ancient experience, grows
young in the imagination’s white dress.
Because it is not the rituals we honor
but our trust in what they signify, these rites
that honor us as witnesses—whether to watch
lovers swear loyalty in a careless world
or a newborn washed with water and oil.

So praise to innocence—impulsive and evergreen—
and let the old be touched by youth’s
wayward astonishment at learning something new,
and dream of a future so fitting and so just
that our desire will bring it into being.

Dana Gioia  2007

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