The Wisdom of Poetry

By Jon Sievert

People look to great poets for intellectual and inspirational power. The poet Shelley called poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” At this Sunday’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Service, Judith Rosenthal discusses “The Wisdom of Poetry” and reads the work of several modern poets who embody three of the guiding principles of Unitarian Universalism.

UU Service
By Judith Rosenthal
Sun, Jul 26, 10:30am
La Posada de la Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio 15

The first principle is “respect for the interdependent web of all being.” Contemplation of the natural world allows us to garner strength when our lives become too burdensome. This idea is present in the work of many nature poets, such as Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and Stanley Kunitz. Poetry, even more than scripture, can guide us. A second idea, the goal of “world peace and justice,” is a force in poems by Ellen Bass and Billy Collins, both called “Pray for Peace.” Non violent civil disobedience has been central to Unitarians since the 19th century, in the work of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Finally, poems by Li-Young Lee and Elizabeth Bishop show us the third principle, “compassion in human relations.” As a tribute of gratitude to Ms. Rosenthal’s adopted country, Mexico, she will end with the bilingual poem “Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way” by the current US poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.

Judith Rosenthal, PhD., taught English Literature and Women’s Studies for 35 years at Cal State Fresno. For the last 10 years, she has involved herself in women’s education by serving as the Chair of the English Book Committee of the Biblioteca, as the Communications Chair of Mujeres en Cambio, and as a Board Member of the Unitarian Universalists. During her time at La Biblioteca, she has enjoyed expanding the Sala de Poesía (Poetry Room).

The UU Fellowship meets every Sunday at 10:30 am at La Posada de la Aldea, Ancha de San Antonio 15 and welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Visitors are invited to attend the service and then join the UUs for coffee and snacks afterwards. The room is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit our website at


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