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Poetry Moment: 'Everywhere You Look You See Lilacs', by Jeanne Murray Walker

FILE - Jeanne Walker, English. (Kathy F. Atkinson)
Kathy F. Atkinson
Jeanne Walker at her desk.

This is poetry moment on WPSU – a weekly program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Your host is poet and author Marjorie Maddox, a 2023 Monson Arts Fellow, author of 20 books, and professor of English and creative writing at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University. 

Welcome to Poetry Moment.

May is behind us; summer beckons. In her poem, “Everywhere You Look You See Lilacs,” Jeanne Murray Walker reminds us to slow down. With our busy lives, it’s easy to rush past what’s already in front of us. If you are craving an exotic destination, there’s no need to scurry elsewhere. Blossoms, bees, and a little bit of sunlight take us where we need to go.

Jeanne Murray Walker is the award-winning author of nine volumes of poetry, two memoirs, and a number of plays, which have been performed in theaters across the country and in London. She is an Emeritus Professor at The University of Delaware, where she taught for 40 years and headed the Creative Writing Concentration. She lives outside Philadelphia, travels widely to speak and read her poems, has appeared on PBS television, and is frequently interviewed on the radio. Her most recent book, Leaping from the Burning Train, appeared in 2023 from Slant Books.

Since August 2023, you and I have been journeying together through words. What better way to end this season of Poetry Moment than with the lush, hopeful language of today’s sonnet? To arrive on the isle of Contentment, take a deep breath and look around. Pause, listen, and savor the sounds of backyard beauty.

Here’s “Everywhere You Look You See Lilacs” by Jeanne Murray Walker

- - -
and better yet,
just blossoming in woozy
pink and white, smell the peonies
that will cast off their clothes like floozies
soon. Ponder the indolent fat bees
like tiny blimps that hover over them,
perfectly content with where they are
this morning. Nothing’s missing in the flame
of this slow day. Sun through Douglas fir
cascading now, the earth complete and here:
once, currently, forever. How not traveling,
we’ve still traveled everywhere. How far
it’s possible to go without unraveling
maps or charts. To get there with no drive,
no fear, not even any hunger to arrive.

- - -
Previously published in Pilgrim, You Find the Path by Walking (Paraclete 2019)
- - -

That was “Everywhere You Look You See Lilacs” by Jeanne Murray Walker.

Thanks for joining me this season as we traveled the landscapes of Pennsylvania, as well as the poetic terrain of inspiration and insight.

Listen for Poetry Moment with Marjorie Maddox Mondays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on WPSU. You can more episodes at

Our theme music is by Eric Ian Farmer.

Marjorie Maddox is the host of WPSU's Poetry Moment for the 2023-24 season. She has been a professor of English and creative writing since 1990 at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.