Indian Poetry, Sufi Poetry

Kabir – The Moon Shines in my Body

Kabir was a 15th century Indian mystic and poet who was also a weaver by trade. His vision combined the philosophies of Hinduism and Sufism, and he is considered both a Sufi and Brahmin saint. His poetry is rooted in nature and the experience of the ordinary, through which he seeks the 'unstruck drum of… Continue reading Kabir – The Moon Shines in my Body

American Poetry, Poetry

Chen Chen’s I’m Not a Religious Person But

Chen Chen is a startling young American poet whose life as seen through his work is imbued with poignancy and wit. This poem from his debut collection 'When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities' is steeped in an excruciating sense of the limits of religion and belief.    I'm… Continue reading Chen Chen’s I’m Not a Religious Person But

Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Dogen’s Waka on Impermanence

Waka is a Japanese word for poem that surfaced more than a millenium ago to differentiate the Chinese kanshi poems from the work of local scribes. A waka can have a long or short form, and the short ones can often read like haikus, a poetic embodiment of transience. This short one was written by… Continue reading Dogen’s Waka on Impermanence

su tung-p'o
Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Su Tung-P’o’s Rapt in Wine Against the Mountain Rains

Su Tung-P'o was a poet of the Song era who is also known as Su Shi, and who published under the name Dongpo Jushi. A prolific figure of his time, Su Tung-P'o was a statesman who was accomplished not only in literary terms, but also as a painter, calligrapher and cook. Influenced by his study… Continue reading Su Tung-P’o’s Rapt in Wine Against the Mountain Rains

American Poetry, Poetry

Mary Oliver’s Morning Poem

Like the Zen poets of China and Japan, American poet Mary Oliver's work is deeply rooted in nature and her physical and ephemeral experience of the wilds that surround her. In Morning Poem, she communicates a deep optimism about the human condition; that even in the midst of heavy suffering, we can recognize a rightness… Continue reading Mary Oliver’s Morning Poem

Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Shitou’s Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage

Shitou - known as Sekito Kisen in Japanese - was an 8th century Chinese monk, a student of Huineng and Huineng's successor, Qingyuan Xingsi (Seigen Gyoshi). He is credited with writing two of the most famous Zen poems in China - the Sandokai and this, the Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage. The beauty of… Continue reading Shitou’s Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage

American Poetry, Poetry

Jane Hirshfield’s “A Carbon-Based Life Form”

New York-born poet Jane Hirshfield studied Zen at the San Francisco Zen Center and at the monastery in Tassajara for a total of eight years before going on to garner a host of accolades for her poetry writing and editorial work.   "A Carbon-Based Life Form" A person tired from happiness grows sober. Another, worn… Continue reading Jane Hirshfield’s “A Carbon-Based Life Form”

American Poetry, Poetry

Gary Snyder – For Nothing

Zen student, poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder's Turtle Island, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1975. For Nothing is one of the poems in this book that present a vision of rediscovery of the north American continent whereby its inhabitants cease to behave as colonizers but rather as natives.    Earth a… Continue reading Gary Snyder – For Nothing

Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Muso’s Green Mountains

Muso Soseki was a Japanese monk born in the 13th century who achieved satori at the age of 30 while staying in a hermitage in the countryside. One night he was walking about in the dark and reached out for a wall he thought was there. When he realized it wasn't, he gave a great… Continue reading Muso’s Green Mountains