"milk and honey" is a collection of poetry, prose, and illustrations by Canadian poet Rupi Kaur. The book is divided into four chapters: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. Throughout the book, Kaur focuses on the experiences of trauma, abuse, love, heartbreak, healing and femininity.
Reading the collection hit home for me in a number of ways. Some of the emotions I had been feeling lately were amplified as I related to certain poems, while other emotions I hadn’t felt in a while had resurfaced for the same reason. Other poems made me feel for the speaker, as she went through some experiences that I could never even dream of surviving. Since the poems in this book made me emotional, I thought I’d share some of the ones that stood out to me, either because I relate to them in some way or because they’re too powerful to be forgotten.
1. For the ones who keep getting tossed aside.
“she was a rose
in the hands of those
who had no intention
of keeping her”
I've often felt like I've been passed around from hand to hand like a rose, and this poem made me realize that my beauty doesn't diminish because I've been tossed aside. I'm still the same rose, even if I've been in different hands.
2. For the ones who honor themselves.
“there is no bigger illusion in the world
than the idea that a woman will
bring dishonor into a home
if she tries to keep her heart
and her body safe”
This poem affirms the fact that there is nothing wrong with wanting to keep yourself safe. If anything, that's more important than "settling down" with someone just because that's what society expects of a woman. Ignore the calls from those around you to get married by a certain age; life will bring those things to you in due time.
3. For the ones who feel small.
“trying to convince myself
i am allowed
to take up space
is like writing with
my left hand
when i was born
to use my right
- the idea of shrinking is hereditary”
It takes years to be accepting of your ability to make your voice heard. This poem explains the struggle of not feeling comfortable with it, and does so in a way that all of us who are not ambidextrous can relate to.
4. For the ones yearning to speak up.
“you tell me to quiet down cause
my opinions make me less beautiful
but i was not made with a fire in my belly
so i could be put out
i was not made with a lightness on my tongue
so i could be easy to swallow
i was made heavy
half blade and half silk
difficult to forget and not easy
for the mind to follow”
This poem is a perfect follow-up to the last because it explains how one begins to realize their potential to speak up or take up space. Though Kaur was referring to a past abuser in this situation, it is applicable to anyone who has been made to feel like whether or not their opinions are spoken directly correlates with how beautiful they are. There is no correlation. Speak up!
5. For the ones who know what they want in a lover.
be love at
first sight when
we meet it’ll be love
at first remembrance cause
i’ve seen you in my mother’s eyes
when she tells me to marry the type
of man i’d want to raise my son to be like”
Many of us are still looking for this guy, and often we don't realize we've found him until we've gotten to know him. But you will always know when you have found the one because you'll remember that advice. Kaur knows this, and I love how she shared this knowledge with all of us.
6. For the lonely ones he left behind.
“i know i
for better reasons
but have you seen
that boy he brings
the sun to its
We have all met a guy like this. One who's just unforgettable and seems to move mountains yet is able to leave you behind. As someone who is still struggling with this type of heartbreak, this particular poem hit home for me.
7. For the ones who don't need another half to be whole.
“i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to be so complete
i could light a whole city
i want to have you
cause the two of us combined
could set it on fire”
It took me way too long in life to realize that we are already whole people. Rather than finding another half, we need someone to combine their strengths with ours so we can take on the world with double the power. This poem is a good reminder for those of us who are still learning this about themselves.
8. For the ones looking for comfort from a lover.
“i need someone
who knows struggle
as well as i do
willing to hold my feet in their lap
on days it is too difficult to stand
the type of person who gives
exactly what i need
before i even know i need it
the type of lover who hears me
even when i do not speak
is the type of understanding
- the type of lover i need”
As whole as we can be, it's important to have someone to be there for us on the days when we're feeling incomplete. When my anxiety brings out the worst of me, I want someone who will hold me and say, "It's OK, I'm here for you." Even though I try to carry the weight of my problems on my own shoulders, this poem has helped me to realize it's OK to find someone to share your problems with, and a lover should be one of those people.
9. For the hopeless dreamers.
into this mess
i always let him
tell me i am beautiful
and half believe it
i always jump thinking
he will catch me
at the fall
i am hopelessly
a lover and
a dreamer and
that will be the
death of me”
This poem resonated with me a lot. I tend to get attached to those that make me comfortable, and then once they're gone, I'm left dreaming of going back to the times where they were around. No matter how much I may complain about being hurt by those people, I know I'd let some of them back in if they pleaded even a little bit.
10. For the ones who can't break the habit.
“when my mother says i deserve better
i snap to your defense out of habit
he still loves me i shout
she looks at me with defeated eyes
the way a parent looks at their child
when they know this is the type of pain
even they can’t fix
it means nothing to me if he loves you
if he can’t do a single wretched thing about it”
We've all had these conversations with our mothers, but it's important to remember that mother knows best. I've had many conversations like this with my mom, especially in the past few weeks. (Love you, Mom.)
11. For the ones who bravely walked away.
“i didn’t leave because
i stopped loving you
i left because the longer
i stayed the less
i loved myself”
It's hard to find the strength to walk away from a situation that weakens us, but once we do we can start focusing on self love once again. I was remembered of a past pain reading this poem, but it reminded me that I was able to find the strength to walk away and focus on myself for a while, which is important.
12. For the ones who refuse to settle.
“you were the most beautiful thing i’d ever felt till
now. and i was convinced you’d remain the most
beautiful thing i’d ever feel. do you know how
limiting that is. to think at such a ripe young age i’d
experienced the most exhilarating person i’d ever
meet. how i’d spend the rest of my life just settling.
to think i’d tasted the rawest form of honey and
everything else would be refined and synthetic. that
nothing beyond this point would add up. that all the
years beyond me could not combine themselves to
be sweeter than you.
What I loved about this piece is how Kaur made me realize that I will continue to meet people who will leave me in awe of their presence as I go through life and grow. I haven't met nearly all of the people I will meet in my life, and the people I meet in the future will amaze me as much as the people I know now.
13. For the ones who feel guilty.
i don’t deserve
cause i am paying
for sins i don’t
I've felt this way a lot through my life, especially lately. As a believer in karma, I often wonder if it has come back to me when something bad has come my way. Kaur has put the feelings I've been too nervous to speak into words.
14. For the readers looking for support.
“stay strong through your pain
grow flowers from it
you have helped me
grow flowers out of mine so
however you need
- to the reader"
I love this specific poem. It takes a break from the narrative that has been spoken throughout the book and allows Kaur communicate directly to the readers while still communicating in the form of a poem. She references her own healing to tell us to stay strong, which healed my heart in ways I never thought possible. Thank you, Rupi.
15. For the women who are tired of hearing this phrase.
“you tell me
i am not like most girls
and learn to kiss me with your eyes closed
something about the phrase—something about
how i have to be unlike the women
i call sisters in order to be wanted
makes me want to spit your tongue out
like i am supposed to be proud you picked me
as if i should be relieved you think
i am better than them”
Feminist queens unite! At this point in her book, Kaur wants to unite women so that we can heal each other and overcome our struggles together. It starts with dismissing the idea that we should be unlike other women to stand out to men. In reality, we can be individuals while still loving the things that bring women together.
16. For my fellow sisters.
“my heart aches for sisters more than anything
it aches for women helping women
like flowers ache for spring”
I am a big believer in women building each other up. We've faced a lot of struggles over the years and will continue to face more as time goes on. We need to spend less time fighting each other and instead fight what tries to bring us down. This poem brings out the fighter spirit in me, as simple as it is.
If you are in awe of what you have seen, then go out and buy milk and honey today! If you enjoy that, then be sure to purchase Rupi Kaur’s new book, the sun and her flowers, which was released on October 3rd!