Western Poetry for Buddhists

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby Buckwheat » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:55 pm

I'm looking for some western poems to read that will appeal to the Buddhist side of life. I will not give any guidelines to determine if your poem "appeals to the Buddhist side of life" other than to say that if you are on this website and feel like posting it here, its probably close enough. To start things off,
Robert Frost wrote:The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

P.S. I'm new to reading poetry, so even the classics are new to me.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby imagemarie » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:09 pm

There are some good poems here

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=2945

:anjali:
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby Justsit » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:49 pm

The Coming of Wisdom with Time

Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

-William Butler Yeats
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby Mkoll » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:15 am

The Journey

By Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Peace,
James
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:25 am

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby binocular » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:42 pm

Comes the Dawn



After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security,

And you begin to understand that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head held high and your eyes open,

With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
You learn to build your roads

On today because tomorrow's ground
Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have

A way of falling down in midflight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine

Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate

Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you can really endure,
That you really are strong

And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn ... and you learn

With every goodbye you learn.



Veronica Shorffstall, 1971
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby Babadhari » Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:15 pm

On Cremation of Chögyam Trungpa, Vidyadhara by Allen Ginsberg

I noticed the grass, I noticed the hills, I noticed the highways,
I noticed the dirt road; I noticed the car rows in the parking lot
I noticed the ticket takers, noticed the cash and the checks and credit cards,
I noticed the buses, noticed mourners, I noticed their children in red dresses,
I noticed the entrance sign, noticed retreat houses, noticed blue and yellow flags
Noticed the devotees, their trucks and buses, guards in khaki uniforms,
I noticed the crowds, noticed misty skies, noticed the all –pervading smiles and empty eyes –
I noticed the pillows, coloured red and yellow, square pillows round and round –
I noticed the Tori gate, passers-through bowing, a parade of men & women in formal dress –
Noticed the procession, noticed the bagpipe, drums, horns, noticed high silk head crowns and saffron robes, noticed the three piece suits,
I noticed the palanquin, an umbrella, the stupa painted with jewels the Colours of the four directions –
Amber for generosity, green for karmic works, I noticed the white for Buddha, red for the heart –
Thirteen worlds on the stupa hat, noticed the bell handle and umbrella, the empty head of the white cement bell – Noticed the corpse to be set in the head of the bell –
Noticed the monks chanting, horn plaint in our ears, smoke rising from astep the firebrick empty bells –
Noticed the crowds quiet, noticed the Chilean poet, noticed a rainbow,
I noticed the guru was dead,
I noticed his teacher bare breasted watching the corpse burn in the stupa,
Noticed mourning students sat cross legged before their books, chanting devotional mantra’s,
Gesturing mysterious fingers, bells and brass thunderbolts in their hands,
I noticed flames rising above flags and wires and umbrellas and painted orange poles,
I noticed, I noticed the sky, noticed the sun, a rainbow around the sun, light misty clouds drifting over the sun –
I noticed my own heart beating, breath passing through my nostrils
My feet walking, eyes seeing,
I’ve noticed smoke above the corpse, I’ve noticed fired monuments
I noticed the path downhill, I’ve noticed the crowd moving toward the buses
I noticed food, lettuce salad, I noticed the teacher was absent,
I noticed my friends, I’ve noticed our car, I’ve noticed the blue Volvo,
I’ve noticed a young boy hold my hand
Our key in the motel door, I noticed a dark room, I noticed a dream
And forgot, noticed oranges lemons and caviar at breakfast,
I noticed the highway, sleepiness, homework thoughts, the boy’s nippled chest in the breeze
As the car rolled down hillsides past green woods to the water.
I noticed the sea, I noticed the music – I wanted to dance.”
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby imagemarie » Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Duino Elegies - From The Tenth Elegy

Someday, emerging at last from the violent insight,
let me sing out jubilation and praise to assenting angels.
Let not even one of the clearly-struck hammers of my heart
fail to sound because of a slack, a doubtful,
or a broken string. Let my joyfully streaming face
make me more radiant; let my hidden weeping arise
and blossom. How dear you will be to me then, you nights
of anguish. Why didn't I kneel more deeply to accept you,
inconsolable sisters, and, surrendering, lose myself
in your loosened hair. How we squander our hours of pain.
How we gaze beyond them into the bitter duration
to see if they have an end. Though they are really
our winter-enduring foliage, our dark evergreen,
one season in our inner year-, not only a season
in time-, but are place and settlement, foundation and soil
and home.


R M Rilke

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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby Babadhari » Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:23 pm

A Poison Tree
BY WILLIAM BLAKE
I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I waterd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veild the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Dec 21, 2013 6:49 am

Look for anything by Gary Snyder. "No Nature: New and Selected Poems" might be a good starting point.

:reading:
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:59 am

Links to four poems expressive of a Dhammic conservatism akin to that of the Mahāsupina Jātaka and Sārandada Sutta.


Alfred Lord Tennyson, Locksley Hall Sixty Years After

    “Envy wears the mask of Love, and, laughing sober fact to scorn,
    Cries to Weakest as to Strongest, ‘Ye are equals, equal-born.’
    ...

    “You that woo the Voices — tell them ‘old experience is a fool,’
    Teach your flatter’d kings that only those who cannot read can rule.
    Pluck the mighty from their seat, but set no meek ones in their place;
    Pillory Wisdom in your markets, pelt your offal at her face.”


Rudyard Kipling, The Gods of the Copybook Headings

    “In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: If you don't work you die.


William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act 1 Scene 3:
Speech of Ulysses to Agamemnon


    “The heavens themselves, the planets and this centre
    Observe degree, priority and place,
    Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,
    Office and custom, in all line of order;
    ...

    “How could communities,
    Degrees in schools and brotherhoods in cities,
    Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
    The primogenitive and due of birth,
    Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels,
    But by degree, stand in authentic place?
    Take but degree away, untune that string,
    And, hark, what discord follows!”

William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book VII

    “Genius of Burke! forgive the pen seduced
    By specious wonders, and too slow to tell
    Of what the ingenuous, what bewildered men,
    Beginning to mistrust their boastful guides,
    And wise men, willing to grow wiser, caught,
    Rapt auditors! from thy most eloquent tongue—
    Now mute, for ever mute in the cold grave.
    I see him, —old, but vigorous in age,—
    Stand like an oak whose stag-horn branches start
    Out of its leafy brow, the more to awe
    The younger brethren of the grove.
    ...
    “While he forewarns, denounces, launches forth,
    Against all systems built on abstract rights,
    Keen ridicule; the majesty proclaims
    Of Institutes and Laws, hallowed by time;
    Declares the vital power of social ties
    Endeared by Custom; and with high disdain,
    Exploding upstart Theory, insists
    Upon the allegiance to which men are born.”
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby pulga » Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:03 am

Here's another from Wordsworth, from his White Doe of Rylstone:

"Action is transitory--a step, a blow,
The motion of a muscle--this way or that--
'Tis done; and in the after-vacancy
We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed:
Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark,
And has the nature of infinity.
Yet through that darkness (infinite though it seem
And irremoveable) gracious openings lie,
By which the soul--with patient steps of thought
Now toiling, waked now on wings of prayer--
May pass in hope, and, though from mortal bonds
Yet undelivered, rise with sure ascent
Even to the fountain-head of peace divine."
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Re: Western Poetry for Buddhists

Postby bazzaman » Wed Dec 25, 2013 8:32 am

imagemarie wrote:Duino Elegies - From The Tenth Elegy

Someday, emerging at last from the violent insight,
let me sing out jubilation and praise to assenting angels.
Let not even one of the clearly-struck hammers of my heart
fail to sound because of a slack, a doubtful,
or a broken string. Let my joyfully streaming face
make me more radiant; let my hidden weeping arise
and blossom. How dear you will be to me then, you nights
of anguish. Why didn't I kneel more deeply to accept you,
inconsolable sisters, and, surrendering, lose myself
in your loosened hair. How we squander our hours of pain.
How we gaze beyond them into the bitter duration
to see if they have an end. Though they are really
our winter-enduring foliage, our dark evergreen,
one season in our inner year-, not only a season
in time-, but are place and settlement, foundation and soil
and home.


R M Rilke

:anjali:


from the first elegy:

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels'
hierarchies? and even if one of them
pressed me against his heart: I would be consumed
in that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains
to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying.
First Elegy (as translated by Stephen Mitchell)
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