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Category Archives: poetry

sunday poem

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Feeling deeply appreciated and nourished by the comments to my previous post, I dip into The poetry of Zen* —

Whatever it is,
I cannot understand it,
although gratitude
stubbornly overcomes me
until I’m reduced to tears.

* by Saigyō Hōshi (西行 法師, 1118–1190) in Hamill, S., & Seaton, J. P. (2007). (trans.). Boston: Shambhala, p. 112. image: “Old Man Weeping” after Van Gogh by Gordon Christie when he was still a teenager.

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sunday poem

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Hope is with you when you believe
The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
That sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
That all things you have ever seen here
Are like a garden looked at from a gate.

You cannot enter. But you’re sure it’s there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange flower and an unnamed star.

Some people say we should not trust our eyes,
That there is nothing, just a seeming,
These are the ones who have no hope.
They think that the moment we turn away,
The world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
As if snatched up by the hands of thieves.

Czeslaw Milosz. (2006). Selected poems 1931-2004. HarperCollins, p. 26. photo: played all day with my god-daughters Orla and Amelie who’re visiting from Scotland.

sunday poem

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Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

Izumi Shikibu (974?-1034?) was a court lady in ancient Japan. In: Hirshfield, J. (date?). (ed). Women in praise of the sacred: 43 centuries of spiritual poetry by women. HarperPerennial. image: source unknown

not dawdling (sunday poem)

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Not dawdling
not doubting
intrepid all the way
walk toward clarity
with sharp eye

With sharpened sword
clearcut the path
to the lucent surprise
of enlightenment

At every crossroad
be prepared to bump into wonder

James Broughton (1913-1999), American poet, playwright, and filmmaker. source: www.Poetry-Chaikhana.com; image: immortalhumans.com

this too

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this hungry monk
chanting by lamplight
is Buddha
and he still thinks of you

Ikkyu Sojin 一休宗純 (1394-1481), eccentric Japanese Zen priest and poet

look no further (sunday poem)

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Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.

You will not find me in stupas, not Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals;

not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.

When you really look for me, you will see me instantly —
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath within the breath. 

Bly, R. (1977). (trans). The Kabir book. Boston: Beacon Books, p. 33.

sunday poem (david whyte)

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Excerpt from “The winter of listening” and a youtube recording of the late Jacqueline du Pré playing cello solo “Intermezzo from Goyescas” by Enrique Granados.


What is precious
inside us does not

care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.

What we strive for
in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
we desire.

what disturbs
and then nourishes
has everything
we need.

What we hate in ourselves
is what we cannot know
in ourselves but
what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.

© 2004 David Whyte. The house of belonging. Langley, WA: Many Rivers Press, pp. 29-33. image: “Portrait of the cellist Upaupa Scheklud” by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903).