Ten Poems to Set You Free

Ten Poems to Set You Free inspires you to claim the life that is truly yours. In today’s world it is deceptively easy to lose sight of our direction and the things that matter and give us joy. How quickly the days can slip by, the years all gone, and we, at the end of our lives, mourning the life we dreamed of but never lived. These ten poems, and Roger Housden’s reflections on them, urge us to stand once and for all, and now, in the heart of our own life.

This volume brings together the voices of Thomas Merton, David Whyte, the Basque poet Miguel de Unamuno, Anna Swir from Poland, Stanley Kunitz, the Greek poet C. P. Cavafy, and Jane Hirshfield, as well as three of Housden’s favorites, Rumi, Mary Oliver, and Naomi Shihab Nye. His luminous essays on the poems show us how to integrate the poets’ truth into our own lives.

Roger Housden’s love of poetry and life leaps from every page—so much so that his readers feel they have found a guide and mentor through the extraordinary Ten Poems series. He has opened the eyes and hearts of many, not just to the power of poetry, but to the truth and beauty of the life of the soul. What more can one ask?


“The third of Housden’s books based on 10 poems explores the philosophical and spiritual questions involved in living life fully. In his customary style, Housden delves into a wide variety of poets, here including Polish Anna Swir, Greek Constantine P. Cavafy, Spanish Miguel De Unamuno, Turkish Rumi, and the Americans Jane Hirshfield, David Whyte, Mary Oliver, Stanley Kunitz, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Thomas Merton. The little volume’s tone and tenor are perhaps best captured when Pulitzer Prize-winner Oliver asks in ‘Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?’ ‘Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?’ Housden calls this a ‘wake up and live’ line. The theme is repeated in one way or another in all 10 poems, from Cavafy’s ‘The God Abandons Antony,’ in which Antony ‘enjoys’ feelings of devastating loss, to Anna Swir’s mildly erotic ‘Thank You, My Fate.’ And once again, Housden sustains the charm and broadness of appeal of his intimate interpretational essays.” – Donna Chavez, Booklist

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