Five Poems by Philip Appleman

July 3, 2012

Known for his incisive social commentary and imagination, Philip Appleman is a renowned poet, novelist, and editor whose writing spans themes of religion, morality, love… and Darwin. Watch him read a number of poems below, and enjoy his conversation — including more readings — with Bill Moyers on Moyers & Company this weekend (Check your local listings).

Five Easy Prayers for Pagans | A Simple Explanation for Everything | The Trickle-Down Theory of Happiness | The Ant | On a Morning Full of Sun |

“Five Easy Prayers for Pagans”

“A Simple Explanation for Everything”

“The Trickle-Down Theory of Happiness”

“The Ant”

“On a Morning Full of Sun”


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  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Bill Moyers, for bringing Philip Appleman into my life. His poems are riveting and thought provoking.
    And Thank you, Philip Appleman, for having to guts to write what you did. I agree with you 100%.

  • Alazyt

    Philip Appleman’s poems make one ponder.  I would like to have all his books.

  • NLB

    After seeing this show, I was inspired to pick up my pen again and write some poetry.  Loved all his poems, especially “Gertrude”.  I shed a tear when I heard him talk about his love and devotion toward his wife.  Very good interview…I looked up Phillip Appleman on the internet and will make a trip to the library to look for his books.

  • Carolina

    Philip Appleman is truly a modern poet whose had a long lifetime of experience.  He’s a philosophical poet and truly a poet of this age…so very thoughtful and profound.  I’m so very happy that I know about his works.

  • Jo4speech

    A man with potential filled w/only himself. Not impressed by his philosophy of life or his self religion.

  • Stewart Jane

    Thanks to Bill Moyer for introducing me to the beautiful poems of Phillip Appleman.   To hear the poet reading the poems he composed gave so much feeling to the words he wrote.

  • Mmasur

    I think that you are wrong to think that he is so self-centered. Appleman’s comments about the mal-effects sometimes associated with religion were tempered by his acknowledgement that there are good effects as well. His plea is for objective assessment of the moral claims and rationales of people who abuse ethical values and scientific values by distorting them in a narrow or self-serving way.

  • Oneoffaith

    It is unfortunate that Phillip Appleman is anti-christian and not objective when it comes to the christian faith. Some of his poems show lack of understanding of the Christian God. It is obvious that he has a religion of his own or in other words, a set of beliefs that he holds firm to and propagates. I challenge him to find something positive to say about Jesus Christ and the God of the Bible, because such examples, regardless of one’s religious or irreligious affiliations, do exist.  

  • Jo Darling

    A real philosopher and visionary. So refreshing to hear someone who can see beyond the intellectual rubble left by blind faith in religions.

  • James Mahood

    I don’t see Philip Appleman as anti-christian.  He says there are many good religious people and there are.  There are also many hypocritical religious people.  Mr. Appleman only speaks the truth.

  • wolf merklein

    Still by far the best show on TV

  • Tom Petrie

    What a great interview!  By the way, nothing that Mr. Appleman says is Anti-Christian, but if a repeat of historical facts upsets some Christians, so be it. 
     Wasn’t it our Christian leaders who ignored the Pedophile scandal here in America such that horrible abuse of our children continued, unnecessarily, for some 30 + years?   And while the same leaders seem to do little to fight world-wide poverty partly due to overpopulation, they seem to think the use of contraception a horrible sin. 

    Exist a miserable existence, but heaven-forbid, your parents used a safe contraceptive.  I’m tired of hearing about Christian values. 

    I live a decent, moral existance, but I don’t need a man–dead for over 2,000 years–to help me run my life.

  • Ken

    Kill for the Lord, Damn it — or Die!

  • Jacky Skeen

    I second that…

  • Gayle Delaney

    The vast majority of people everywhere and in all times  need what Blake called a BoboDaddy in the sky– a loving, perhaps placate-able, and decisio- making- for- you parent/God.  Why can’t humanists speak this clearly and give people a sense of honor, purpose, love, belonging, and security in some form of community?  The Marines do this, they know how.  It is difficult; but with voices like Appleman we might be able to make known an alternative to superstition.  We need a revived Enlightenment and schools that make students aware of the alternatives to “faith.”

  • lgfromillinois

    Mr. Appleman reflects a disgust that the worst examples of the Christian faith call themselves true Christians.  I hope he has read Job and Ecclesiastes.  The theology found in Proverbs I think of has not part of a sound, well-thought-out faith.  We Christians strive after wind, and we find the vanity of vanities.

  • TomJ

    I’m a believer (guess that means I don’t think enough, right?), a Christian (seeking to be a true follower of Christ), one who thinks that life in the universe has a design and purpose. I’m not insulted by Appleman’s verses (though I think he could write another “simple explanation” about the folks who killed for Mao, nationalism, treasure, etc.). Appleman is not fair or “nice” to religion or religious, but that’s the point. I’m grateful that Bill Moyers presented his work. Moyers has introduced me to a number of interesting socialists and atheists. I find his program intellectually stimulating. Appleman’s satire is witty — my God would approve.  

  • Art4evr

    Then perhaps you could share some.

  • cmar

    Does anyone have a link to the essay Bill Moyers mentions that Appleman wrote recently about love?  He says in the essay, “Meaning is out there, in the doing of the moment” or something close to that.  I’d like to read the essay but can’t find it.

  • Karin Salzmann

    I have also been looking for the piece on meaning…

  • EarthSaunterer

    wonderful interview, profound comments by Appleman…as the first commenter asked…to which essay does Moyers refer in the interview? On the meaning of life, religion, belief in God, love, etc.? I wish to read it, too! :)

  • Rau, R. Ronald

    Let’s thank Bill Moyers for truth and great discussions with our intellectual giants, writers and poets. Philip Appelman needs to be read by our young people to understand that our rotten politics is useless but poetry is a line of hope. Thanks again Bill for providing such astounding talent on your show.
    Allow me to suggest my favorite writer, Louise Erdrich. She is a terrific woman and her Native American background is essential to her writing. Thanks so much.
    Dr. R. Ronald Rau, email:

  • Scaramellp

    I love literature because it makes me look at the universe in new ways and celebrate the gifts it offers. Bill moyer’s show with Philip Appleman caught by a happy accident while I flipped channels made me marvel at the beauty of language and at the creative spirit. To me whether you agree with this poet’s point of view is not the point; he might have a point of view opposite that of religious people but, unless one’s faith is based on understanding and awareness, it’s not a life choice but a jail sentence, even if the space seems cozy and secure. Interestingly, Appleman’s most anti- religious poems are very much structured as prayers. Who’s he addressing?

  • Barb Murray

    What would we do without Bill Moyers to spice up our lives? I have been led down more delicious paths for having listened. Thank you, thank you.

  • michael maduras

    Thankyou for such a great interview with a splended, humanist, gentleman poet. I for one am tired of being bullied by religious apologists who insist their way is the only way.—Thanks be to our forefathers and our constitution that separates church and state.

  • Terence Francis

    Hear, hear!

  • Bill Falls

    Amen! (so to speak)

  • Maria Arthur

    Wow, we need more people like him. We need peacemakers without any agenda other than wanting all to live with peace.

  • Celecious

    I really enjoyed listening to Philip Applemans’ poetry , Thank you Bill Moyer. One line of poetry stood out it said don’t let religion lead you into hatred… Thought provoking!

  • Azita
  • Mimmo

    Moyers mentioned an Appelman essay that made an impact on his life but did not give its name. Anybody know?

  • George Badger

    I was channel surfing, you made me stay.
    I had other things I was hearing, you made me listen.
    I knew what I needed, you made me think.
    Thank you.

  • Seren Fargo

    Actually, he is quite objective. From what I heard in his poems, there were no untruths spoken. Are you saying there is no hypocrisy with religion? Or that there have been no serious wrongdoings within the church? These things are facts, not beliefs, and he should be applauded for his courage to express his disapproval of them. Something “positive” can be found about anyone, even Hitler (he loved dogs). If all you choose to see is the positive, then you may be the one holding firm to a set of beliefs. The balanced view is seeing the whole picture. As far as “lack of understanding”, you may want to read some of the books written by Bart Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina.