BootsnAll Travel Network

Poetry break

Speaking of balance, it isn’t wise to yield continually to my greed for knowledge and to keep stuffing my head without stint. As Stephen says, the suitcase can become too heavy to carry. I go back to a few beloved, familiar poems to read again and to hold against the noise of ideologies:

The Great Sun
by Uvavnuk, Inuit woman, Shaman (Trans. Stephen Mitchell)

The great sea has set me in motion,
set me adrift,
moving me like a weed in a river.

The sky and the strong wind
have moved the spirit inside me
till I am carried away
trembling with joy.

by Rumi (Trans. Coleman Barks)

I looked for my self, but my self was gone.
The boundaries of my being
had disappeared in the sea.
Waves broke. Awareness rose again.
And a voice returned me to myself.
It always happens like this.
Sea turns on itself and foams,
and with every foaming bit
another body, another being takes form.
And when the sea sends word,
each foaming body
melts back to ocean-breath.

by Ryonen (Japanese nun, 18th Century; trans. unknown)

Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the
changing scenes of Autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask me no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars
when no wind stirs.

And music: if I could, I would add to this post the sound of Jacqueline du Pre playing Chopin’s Cello Sonata in G Minor. Music is absolutely necessary to balance.

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2 responses to “Poetry break”

  1. David says:

    I appreciate your recommendations so much! I especially like the poem by Ryonen. I am living in Japan now and it made me think about the way Japanese mark the seasons with nature. For example, the plum blossoms, which will soon be in bloom, are a sign that spring is indeed on its way. I never thought about flowers and trees before, but now I do. It’s OK if the suitcase is heavy with meaningful things. I think you share a lot of things that are in your suitcase anyway.

  2. admin says:

    I needed that, David. I have been silent for days because I’m writing something that is due very soon, and I’m feeling exhausted and stupid. Hugs from me. I would love to be in Japan sometime!

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