Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jesus Christ - The Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Lost Son
(also called the prodigal son)

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Monday, March 28, 2011

Billy Collins - Introduction to poetry analysis

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Alexander Bell - Closing Door

"Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open" ~ Alexander Bell

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

William Wordsworth - Fidelity

This poem teaches what man must learn from dog. I was reading a contemporary poem called Fidelity, so I thought I would research other poems. And found this:

A BARKING sound the Shepherd hears,
A cry as of a dog or fox;
He halts--and searches with his eyes
Among the scattered rocks:
And now at distance can discern
A stirring in a brake of fern;
And instantly a dog is seen,
Glancing through that covert green.

The Dog is not of mountain breed;
Its motions, too, are wild and shy;
With something, as the Shepherd thinks,
Unusual in its cry:
Nor is there any one in sight
All round, in hollow or on height;
Nor shout, nor whistle strikes his ear;
What is the creature doing here?

It was a cove, a huge recess,
That keeps, till June, December's snow;
A lofty precipice in front,
A silent tarn below!
Far in the bosom of Helvellyn,
Remote from public road or dwelling,
Pathway, or cultivated land;
From trace of human foot or hand.

There sometimes doth a leaping fish
Send through the tarn a lonely cheer;
The crags repeat the raven's croak,
In symphony austere;
Thither the rainbow comes--the cloud--
And mists that spread the flying shroud;
And sunbeams; and the sounding blast,
That, if it could, would hurry past;
But that enormous barrier holds it fast.

Not free from boding thoughts, a while
The Shepherd stood; then makes his way
O'er rocks and stones, following the Dog
As quickly as he may;
Nor far had gone before he found
A human skeleton on the ground;
The appalled Discoverer with a sigh
Looks round, to learn the history.

From those abrupt and perilous rocks
The Man had fallen, that place of fear!
At length upon the Shepherd's mind
It breaks, and all is clear:
He instantly recalled the name,
And who he was, and whence he came;
Remembered, too, the very day
On which the Traveller passed this way.

But hear a wonder, for whose sake
This lamentable tale I tell!
A lasting monument of words
This wonder merits well.
The Dog, which still was hovering nigh,
Repeating the same timid cry,
This Dog, had been through three months' space
A dweller in that savage place.

Yes, proof was plain that, since the day
When this ill-fated Traveller died,
The Dog had watched about the spot,
Or by his master's side:
How nourished here through such long time
He knows, who gave that love sublime;
And gave that strength of feeling, great
Above all human estimate!

William Wordsworth

Melinda Owens - Winds of Change

Often we find ourselves in the throes of change in life. We are seeing a lot of that in the US now. A lot of families have had to give up houses they have lived in for years. It's quite painful to watch. Its easy to get depressed. However, my angels are very special. They sing!

Here is a story about an angel who has achieved balance in life. One who recognizes the gifts given to her when she is loosing so much. That's another characteristic about the concept of Ekonkar or oneness. A soul drenched with oneness is not extremely sad when life is unbearable, nor is it extremely jubilant when life is ecstatic. This soul knows how to sing the song of life. Calmly and peacefully. And this soul radiates peace to all spirits around her.

This is what Melinda says. I highly encourage going to her blog. She has a beautiful writing style too. Very connected within and with others.

"I'm moving this weekend. We finally decided to let this old house go."

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fleda Brown - A resource for learning poets

I have been reading The Best American Poetry 2010, and for the past few days I have been captivated by Fleda Brown's "The Dead." Not only is her poetry very good, and each poem needs to be savored for several days, she also has one of the best tutorials I have found on her website for emerging poets.

This is her website:

This is the best portion where she talks about poetry, essentially explaining poetry that she likes:

And here is a link to the audio (more recent material here):

Terresa Wellborn - The Chocolate Chip Waffle

Terresa Wellborn is a writer, librarian, and waffle enthusiast. She says "I dish on panic, poetry, and literary addictions. For the record, I have some degrees {BA, MLIS} and a Bull Terrier who likes carrot peelings. I write late in the arms of the day. I stalk thrift stores and hot rollers, and I'm writing my way to a book." Angels always sing ... but sometimes singing is done by eating words and drinking poetry. Terresa is such an angel. A very interesting selection of words and poetry are found on her blog. So stop by for a chocolate waffle with 0 calories:

Savitri - The Story of A Woman's Love from Mahabharata

In India, in the time of legend, there lived a king with many wives but not one child. Morning and evening for eighteen years, he faced the fire on the sacred altar and prayed for the gift of children.

Finally, a shining goddess rose from the flames.

“I am Savitri, child of the Sun. By your prayers, you have won a daughter.”

Within a year, a daughter came to the king and his favorite wife. He named her Savitri, after the goddess.

Beauty and intelligence were the princess Savitri’s, and eyes that shone like the sun. So splendid was she, people thought she herself was a goddess. Yet, when the time came for her to marry, no man asked for her.

Her father told her, “Weak men turn away from radiance like yours. Go out and find a man worthy of you. Then I will arrange the marriage.”

In the company of servants and councilors, Savitri traveled from place to place. After many days, she came upon a hermitage by a river crossing. Here lived many who had left the towns and cities for a life of prayer and study.

Savitri entered the hall of worship and bowed to the eldest teacher. As they spoke, a young man with shining eyes came into the hall. He guided another man, old and blind.

“Who is that young man?” asked Savitri softly.

“That is Prince Satyavan,” said the teacher, with a smile. “He guides his father, a king whose realm was conquered. It is well that Satyavan’s name means ‘Son of Truth,’ for no man is richer in virtue.”

When Savitri returned home, she found her father sitting with the holy seer named Narada.

“Daughter,” said the king, “have you found a man you wish to marry?”

“Yes, father. His name is Satyavan.”

Narada gasped. “Not Satyavan! Princess, no man could be more worthy, but you must not marry him! I know the future. Satyavan will die, one year from today.”

The king said, “Do you hear, daughter? Choose a different husband!”

Savitri trembled but said, “I have chosen Satyavan, and I will not choose another. However long or short his life, I wish to share it.”

Soon the king rode with Savitri to arrange the marriage.

Satyavan was overjoyed to be offered such a bride. But his father, the blind king, asked Savitri, “Can you bear the hard life of the hermitage? Will you wear our simple robe and our coat of matted bark? Will you eat only fruit and plants of the wild?”

Savitri said, “I care nothing about comfort or hardship. In palace or in hermitage, I am content.”

That very day, Savitri and Satyavan walked hand in hand around the sacred fire in the hall of worship. In front of all the priests and hermits, they became husband and wife.

* * *

For a year, they lived happily. But Savitri could never forget that Satyavan’s death drew closer.

Finally, only three days remained. Savitri entered the hall of worship and faced the sacred fire. There she prayed for three days and nights, not eating or sleeping.

“My love,” said Satyavan, “prayer and fasting are good. But why be this hard on yourself?”

Savitri gave no answer.

The sun was just rising when Savitri at last left the hall. She saw Satyavan heading for the forest, an ax on his shoulder.

Savitri rushed to his side. “I will come with you.”

“Stay here, my love,” said Satyavan. “You should eat and rest.”

But Savitri said, “My heart is set on going.”

Hand in hand, Savitri and Satyavan walked over wooded hills. They smelled the blossoms on flowering trees and paused beside clear streams. The cries of peacocks echoed through the woods.

While Savitri rested, Satyavan chopped firewood from a fallen tree. Suddenly, he dropped his ax.

“My head aches.”

Savitri rushed to him. She laid him down in the shade of a tree, his head on her lap.

“My body is burning! What is wrong with me?”

Satyavan’s eyes closed. His breathing slowed.

Savitri looked up. Coming through the woods to meet them was a princely man. He shone, though his skin was darker than the darkest night. His eyes and his robe were the red of blood.

Trembling, Savitri asked, “Who are you?”

A deep, gentle voice replied. “Princess, you see me only by the power of your prayer and fasting. I am Yama, god of death. Now is the time I must take the spirit of Satyavan.”

Yama took a small noose and passed it through Satyavan’s breast, as if through air. He drew out a tiny likeness of Satyavan, no bigger than a thumb.

Satyavan’s breathing stopped.

Yama placed the likeness inside his robe. “Happiness awaits your husband in my kingdom. Satyavan is a man of great virtue.”

Then Yama turned and headed south, back to his domain.

Savitri rose and started after him.

Yama strode smoothly and swiftly through the woods, while Savitri struggled to keep up. At last, he stopped to face her.

“Savitri! You cannot follow to the land of the dead!”

“Lord Yama, I know your duty is to take my husband. But my duty as his wife is to stay beside him.”

“Princess, that duty is at an end. Still, I admire your loyalty. I will grant you a favor—anything but the life of your husband.”

Savitri said, “Please restore my father-in-law’s kingdom and his sight.”

“His sight and his kingdom shall be restored.”

Yama again headed south. Savitri followed.

Along a river bank, thorns and tall sharp grass let Yama pass untouched. But they tore at Savitri’s clothes and skin.

“Savitri! You have come far enough!”

“Lord Yama, I know my husband will find happiness in your kingdom. But you carry away the happiness that is mine!”

“Princess, even love must bend to fate. Still, I admire your devotion. I will grant you another favor—anything but the life of your husband.”

Savitri said, “Grant many more children to my father.”

“Your father shall have many more children.”

Yama once more turned south. Again, Savitri followed.

Up a steep hill Yama glided, while Savitri clambered after him. At the top, he halted.

“Savitri! I forbid you to come farther!”

“Lord Yama, you are respected and revered by all. Yet, no matter what may come, I will remain by Satyavan!”

“Princess, I tell you for the last time, you will not! Still, I can only admire your courage and your firmness. I will grant you one last favor—anything but the life of your husband.”

“Then grant many children to me. And let them be children of Satyavan!”

Yama’s eyes grew wide as he stared at Savitri. “You did not ask for your husband’s life, yet I cannot grant your wish without releasing him. Princess! Your wit is as strong as your will.”

Yama took out the spirit of Satyavan and removed the noose. The spirit flew north, quickly vanishing from sight.

“Return, Savitri. You have won your husband’s life.”

The sun was just setting when Savitri again laid Satyavan’s head in her lap.

His chest rose and fell. His eyes opened.

“Is the day already gone? I have slept long. But what is wrong, my love? You smile and cry at the same time!”

“My love,” said Savitri, “let us return home.”

* * *

Yama was true to all he had promised. Savitri’s father became father to many more. Satyavan’s father regained both sight and kingdom.

In time, Satyavan became king, and Savitri his queen. They lived long and happily, blessed with many children. So they had no fear or tears when Yama came again to carry them to his kingdom.


About the Story
The story of the princess Savitri is one of the best-known and best-loved tales of India. It appears within The Mahabharata, India’s great national epic, which is much like an Old Testament to the Hindus.

This epic, written down at around the time of Christ, had already been passed on orally for centuries. It arises from a time when legends were born—an age of walled cities, of sun and fire worship, and of women far more independent than later Indian culture allowed.

How to Say the Names
Mahabharata ~ MAH-hah-BAR-a-ta
Narada ~ NAR-a-da
Satyavan ~ SOT-ya-von
Savitri ~ SAH-vit-ree
Yama ~ YAH-ma

Emily Dickinson - I started Early - Took my Dog -

I started Early – Took my Dog –
And visited the Sea –
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me –

And Frigates – in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands–
Presuming Me to be a Mouse –
Aground – opon the Sands –

But no Man moved Me – till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe –
And past my Apron – and my Belt
And past my Boddice – too –

And made as He would eat me up –
As wholly as a Dew
Opon a Dandelion's Sleeve –
And then – I started – too –

And He – He followed – close behind –
I felt His Silver Heel
Opon my Ancle – Then My Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl –

Until We met the Solid Town –
No One He seemed to know –
And bowing – with a Mighty look –
At me – The Sea withdrew –

Saturday, March 19, 2011

John Ashbery - Alcove

John Ashbery has a very unique style. Many say he is the best poet in the US currently. Nothing better to learn from the best I say. So I tried to read his poem and write a poem in his style. I am probably not catching everything in his poem (listed first below); but he will likely not catch everything in my poem (being submitted for publishing). This is part of the "Top 75 2010" project where I am trying to learn from the top 75 American poems of 2010.

Alcove by John Ashbery

Is it possible that spring could be
once more approaching? We forget each time
what a mindless business it is, porous like sleep,
adrift on the horizon, refusing to take sides, "mugwump
of the final hour," lest an agenda—horrors!—be imputed to it,
and the whole point of its being spring collapse
like a hole dug in sand. It's breathy, though,
you have to say that for it.
And should further seasons coagulate
into years, like spilled, dried paint, why,
who's to say we weren't provident? We indeed
looked out for others as though they mattered, and they,
catching the spirit, came home with us, spent the night
in an alcove from which their breathing could be heard clearly.
But it's not over yet. Terrible incidents happen
daily. That's how we get around obstacles.

The Best American Poetry 2010

I started to read "The Best American Poetry 2010" last week. As a recent non-poet, I have had a hard time reading any poetry. And I have tried reading poetry -- that same collection as I was growing up. Especially contemporary poetry. Now this is different. I think the thought that has gone in selecting these poems by Amy Gerstler is awesome. I am very thankful that she has done this, not just for poets but for non-poets.

Because, as a recently converted poet, there is no higher need, in my opinion. I think I can say this with almost the authority that John talks about the Bible because I am convert from the other side. The need of poetry is very high for those who are not poets. And this is a book that fulfills some of this need.

And I can see why. Amy's poetry herself is aimed at that. She teaches a class called "Poetry for non-poets." I probably need to take that class. Now ... when not being a poet is still fresh on my mind. And then I can be a poet that will be understood and actually appreciated by someone who has gone through 6th grade (maybe 8th grade ... although I experimented on my son yesterday who is in 2nd grade; I think he will get there soon).

This is part of the "Top 75 2010" project where I am trying to learn from the top 75 American poems of 2010. I will try to comment on the poems from this collection in future posts. Or better yet, try to write my own poems inspired by the styles I read. I have already written a note on John Ashbery's Alcove, the second poem in the collection.

Amy Gerstler - In Perpetual Spring

Many songs of spring bring hope. And many of these songs are singing Ekonkar, the oneness of all. Oneness appears fantastic in the color of hope. This is true whether Kabir sings in hope in the 12th century, my dear Guru Nanak sings in the 15th century, or Amy Gerstler sings in the current century.

Just having reading a few of her poems from Amy Gerstler, I am becoming a big fan of her style: Simple words. Deep thought. Reaching impact. Delectable taste. Fantastical approach. Sometimes comical. Always beautiful. Because, she is singing in the love of poetry (this will become clear to you if you read her intro to"The Best American Poetry 2010"). Yes ... Love is indeed all you need. Imagine ... lions hugging lambs, snakes kissing snails, in the garden of oneness. This Saturday, take a walk in this garden of love ... and your soul will get the medicine of peace it dearly needs.

In Perpetual Spring by Amy Gerstler

Gardens are also good places
to sulk. You pass beds of
spiky voodoo lilies
and trip over the roots
of a sweet gum tree,
in search of medieval
plants whose leaves,
when they drop off
turn into birds
if they fall on land,
and colored carp if they
plop into water.

Suddenly the archetypal
human desire for peace
with every other species
wells up in you. The lion
and the lamb cuddling up.
The snake and the snail, kissing.
Even the prick of the thistle,
queen of the weeds, revives
your secret belief
in perpetual spring,
your faith that for every hurt
there is a leaf to cure it.

(Copyright Amy Gerstler, printed without her permission, but in hope of eternal spring)

WB Yeats - The song of wandering Aengus

WB Yeats shows another color of singing oneness in this poem. The song of desire for the ultimate beauty is what he sings. The unending desire for beauty to step into your life, the dream of enjoying fruits in the arms of this beauty, is nothing else, but singing Ekonkar. Attaining this beauty, mind you my soul, is not as important. Krishna told you bluntly in Bhagwad Gita: "do your work, forget the fruits". The search -- this path itself -- is the beautiful purpose of life, the singing of Elonkar. Sing this poem now:

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Friday, March 18, 2011

John Lennon - Love is all you need

Love, love, love, love,
love, love, love, love.

There's nothing you can do
that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing
that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say
but you can learn how to play
the game; It's easy.

There's nothing you can make
that can't be made.
No one you can save
that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do
but you can learn how to be you
in time It's easy.

All you need is love
love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love,
love, love, love, love.

There's nothing you can know
that isn't known.
Nothing you can see
that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be
that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.

All you need is love,
love is all you need.

- John Lennon

This song reminds me of the sovereignity of Ekonkar -- it reminds me that we do not control much. So a lot of the things we do, are useless. Except surrendering to the will to the ruler of our destiny. Surrendering is nothing but loving. And singing is the expression of love! So, the purpose of life remains to sing! This is what my Dear Guru Nanak meant in the 15/16th century in this morning prayer, Japji when he said "Hukam Rajai" -- here is another translation of this poem:

Do not try to clean
what can't be pure
Do not try to quiet
what can't be at peace
Do not try to feed
hunger that doesn't die
Do not try to know
what can't be understood
Acede to the power
that rules everyone

This also reminds me of the poem by Guru Gobind Singh (Jin Prem Kiyo) which comes to the same conclusion:

Doesn't matter how long
my shut eye meditates
and howsoever long
my open mind contemplates

How far I rummage
from place to place;
every holy pilgrimage
just goes to waste!

Or have down deep
many scriptures dug,
but still fail to be
ONE like the lovebug.

The plain truth remains
the eternal life of spring
that I wish to attain
only true love can bring

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oprah - Learning

I am a woman in process. I'm just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, & learn from it. -Oprah

Eventually we learn who we are. On the path of learnism. That's what Guru Nanak was. A learnaholic. For life.

Caroline Myss - One with the Earth

Here is a letter from Caroline Myss following the tragedies in Japan. Another reminder of our oneness:

Hi Everyone,

As we all know by now, the Earth has shifted once again. Just the slightest change from deep beneath the waters, a crack in the fabric of her lining, and islands quake while tsunami waves rush across shore lines. We awake believing the world - our world - is stable, only to learn again and again that this Earth is as much a living, breathing, moving, active instrument of life as we are. It is the grandest live organism we shall ever encounter, this wondrous Being that sustains us each second of our life. Weeks ago, a cyclone of unprecedented size hit Australia and an earthquake shortly afterwards moved the ground beneath Christchurch, New Zealand. Buildings fell like toys, leaving much of the town in pieces. Who knows what the final death toll will be in Japan? It would appear that the pace as well as the intensity of long predicted earth activity and climate change is accelerating. Like many people familiar with prediction-oriented literature, all sorts of reasons can be put forward as to why the earth goes through a period of increased seismic activity. Scientists will come up with "scientific" data, as expected. From my point of view, if they were so knowledgable in the first place, the massive abuses to the earth would have never taken place occurred because they would have used their scientific data to protect the Earth. They're great at riding the caboose on the train of environmental change and unfortunately the few who have had the courage to attempt to direct the engine have been thwarted by corporate and political interests who insist that all data suggesting even a hint of climate change activity is a liberal conspiracy.

On the extreme other side, I have heard many people make the comment that, "Mother Nature is angry", and that's why these events are happening. I'm not all that certain that Mother Nature functions from the same emotional system of "anger-vengeance/love-reward" that human beings do. I certainly hope not. Given that Mother Nature was an active, alive force long before we occupied this planet, I suspect that She is far more of a cosmic system of intelligence, transcendent of emotions such as anger or vengeance. Rather, if anything, I suspect that the way to understand Mother Nature is best found through the study of the Tao - the study of the laws of balance that essentially govern the activity of Nature. When Nature is out of balance, the system itself will initiate whatever action it must take in order to reestablish an environment capable of sustaining all life - not just human life, but all life. Within the realm of Nature, all life is equal. Life is precious because it is life, not because it is human life or wealthy life or educated life or young life, but because it is life.

We are now living at a time when all cycles and systems of life are out of balance, including our system of perception itself. We do not "perceive" life clearly at all and thus, we as a society make choices that are based on endless illusions. And illusions lead to disasters. There was a time not so long ago, for example, when human beings walked more humbly on the Earth and under the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. Before the "Age of Reason", a person walked into a forest filled with the awareness that the forest was as aware of him as he was of it. He shared the ground with the forest and all the creatures who lived there. They were not his for the taking, for the slaughtering, for dominating. In times gone by, people lived in a type of consciousness in which even the slightest movement of the wind meant something - perhaps heaven was piercing the veil between dimensions, speaking in a soft breeze, moving a branch or a leaf in order to communicate a message, or a warning, or signal its approval. The stars that filled the sky at night were not just pretty, shining objects, but proof of a celestial homeland, the blanket of the Divine covering humanity. Every living creature had purpose and meaning, a place in which it was given a natural dignity because it was created by a God no one doubted existed.

Of course human beings were still human beings in those days before the Age of Reason introduced a love of logic and a God who (obviously) had scientific reasons up "his" celestial sleeve for why all things happen as they do in this whole, big, universe. Civilization was also a dark and dreary place back then, with disease and the plague, and endless wars....oh wait, am I describing then or now? Oh, I'm describing their version of then, not ours. Though they also had war, and they also had epidemics, and they also had starvation, what they did not have that has driven our civilization to the brink of madness is an epidemic of narcissism blended with an epidemic of blind doubt about the existence of the cosmic structure that holds together this fragile place called Earth. Back then, no one doubted the existence of this invisible reality. Today, that doubt is an epidemic and the absence of respect and reverence for the Earth is reflected in the choices governments and corporations make as well as individuals.

Is Mother Earth angry? Don't be silly. A cosmic force hardly gets angry. But a cosmic force does, will, and is seeking balance, just as your individual body seeks balance when it has been struck with a toxin. What is the difference?

The Earth will continue to have an increase in earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, draughts, and whatever else is required to reestablish balance in Her environment. She is a living organism that is, in effect, re-booting Herself. Only the human community has the idea that we somehow live apart from the Earth, that the Earth does not respond to our breathing, to our thoughts, to our actions. It's incomprehensible, to be sure, to even hold such a perspective. But the Earth is that sensitive. Recycling, I assure you, is not enough. Consider the Earth as a family member instead, as a Being that sees you as clearly as you see it. And you are on the "earth" as much when you are standing in the midst of New York City or London as you are in the middle of a forest. You are still "on the earth". Standing on concrete or in a building does not make it any less "earth" except if you hold to the perception that what qualifies for the "earth" is out of the city in green or desert nature. But that's an illusion. How can you ever be off or away from the "earth"? It's precisely that perception - that Nature is in the country but not in the city - that maintains the illusion of separateness. You may prefer to be in the country but you always on the Earth.

Having said all this, let me turn to matters of the loss of human life. While earth shifts are essential for the Earth to survive, they are tragic for us. They result in enormous loss of human life and we must all hold in prayer the souls and the families of the people of Japan. The fear, pain, and grief of the thousands of people is unimaginable. We learn from this tragedy once again that the life we awaken to each morning may well be completely different by the end of the day. We kid ourselves by telling ourselves that we are in charge of the length of our lifetime. We are not. We must treat each day as a gift as well as every person dear to us. We learn from this event in Japan that we can be with the Japanese community of people through prayer, through email, through FB in an instant. We are truly learning an enormous cosmic truth: We are one. And we are meant to use that truth: Pray together, heal our fellow human beings together, and heal our beloved Earth together. Put your soul to work.

Love, Caroline


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bernard Meltzer - exercise for the heart

There is no better exercise for your heart than reaching down and helping to lift someone up. ~Bernard Meltzer

Robert Lee Brower - Local Poetry Events in East Bay Area

Local poets:

Robert Eastwood - What makes a good poem

Following is an essay from bay area poet Robert Eastwood on what makes a good poem. I believe this was given as a speech ...

Most of you have entered poems for the contest, and soon––after you've put up with me for a while––we will hear the winners among the many hopeful entrants. A fair question to ask is, what standards have been used to judge my poems? The contest was to identify the good poems, the best poems, from various categories, and then to choose the grand prize poem. And we all participate, entering into the popular illusion that this can be objectively accomplished.

I'd like to explore this behavior of ours, what we implicitly agree to, and the question, what makes a good poem.First I'd like to share a little story.

A year or two after I retired from teaching high school English I received a letter from a student––the brother of a student I'd apparently had when I taught 10th grade English. It went like this...

Dear Mr. Eastwood,

I am a junior at Clayton Valley High. You had my brother, Carl, in one of your classes once. He thinks you're okay. I know you've retired and all, but I've got a problem.

I have been assigned to write a paper on what makes a good poem. I tried to go on-line about it, but all I get is crap. Will you please write me all about it and how you do it, and could you please reply by e-mail as I have kind of let this paper slip and it is due real soon, like I mean REAL SOON.

Sincerely, Brad

Now, I must confess I've been laggard in responding to Brad's request––I mean real laggard, like seven years laggard––but consider this talk a summation of an earnest period of thinking on the matter, and a long overdue reply.

First of all, in the nest of illusions before us, nobody really knows what a poem is, and anybody who tells you definitively, what a poem is, must be a professor and not a poet. Anybody who has actually tried to write a poem knows that anything you can say about a poem, what you should or should not do, the whole prescriptive endeavor––and that includes my talk today––is going to be disproved. As the poet Tony Hoagland says, anything that works is what works. It makes you wonder why we participate in the illusion of certainty surrounding the judging of merit in poems.
The word "poem" comes via French from the Latin and Greek: a thing made or created. Now that leaves a lot of room for interpretation, particularly as to merit.
Like most anything made by a human being, a poem is the embodiment of the life and culture of its time. It involves the poet's biography and bibliography, and also the world in which the poet lives.

Robert Frost insisted that "the way to read a poem in prose or verse is in the light of all the other poems ever written." He's implying, it seems to me, the need for familiarity with the past, but also that we build upon the past, not replicate it. Standards we hold against the poem are equally evolutionary. Indeed, David Alpaugh says that poetry redefines itself by periodic revolutions that adjust its parameters to accommodate shifts in language, culture, and sociology. I dare say the poems of William Blake or John Donne would be rejected for publication by most editors today.

Stephen Dobyns, in his book Best Words, Best Order, says, and I quote, "What we read is always filtered through what we've read, where we are in history, culture, and psychology, various ideologies, and our card-house of opinions." The writer, in other words, is writing the poem through his or her opinions, and through every poem he or she has ever read. To continue with Dobyns, "We call a work original when it surprises these opinions and expands our preconceptions of the limits of the form." I will get back to this central quality of surprise, and show its importance.

I agree with the poet Diane Wakoski when she says, "no two poets writing today can get together on their definitions of what constitutes a good poem." All I can do today is share my thoughts and those of others and hope you won't completely reject them.

Although the poet David Ignatow insisted there is no objective criterion for the judgment of poetry, especially free-verse, I believe what comes closest is a Scoring Rubric. (Remember that rubrics are used by scorers of writing tests, such as English teachers or testing bureaus, to judge the merit of a piece of writing. Scoring one to five on each element of the rubric provides a quasi-objective measure.) The rubric could contain fresh use and technical proficiency in:

1) compression,
2) rhythm,
3) lineation,
4) imagery, and
5) figurative language.

Each of these elements can be recognized as being present or absent in a poem, and on a scale of 1 to 5, given a value for the freshness and technical proficiency. Thus, by summation of each of these scores, a numeric value may be given the poem.

But this process still leaves room for a lot of subjective interpretation. Additionally, because poetry combines two different sensory modes (words and sounds, the union of sound and meaning) judging the aesthetic merit of a poem requires judging 1) the literary element, 2) the musical element, and 3) the harmonious integration of sense and sound. In recent years there has been some interesting research done on how music works, notably at the research labs at Stanford, and lead by Daniel J. Levitin, the author of The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature. The bridge to poetry, particularly through song lyrics, which incorporate and integrate sense with aural phenomena, aiding recollection and memorization, is in the process of being delved. It's fair to say there's no popular understanding of the workings of this integration––how it propels a poem, though we all recognize it exists.

I want again to call upon David Alpaugh, who has an interesting perspective on judging the elements of a good poem––a process he prefers to call "the satisfaction of key appetites." The appetites David needs satisfied to feel he's experienced poetry are 1) originality, 2) metaphor, i.e., the thrill of two things occurring at the same time and demanding that his imagination put them together. David says, metaphor is the reason why all great poetry is always about the reader, never the writer. And 3) music––"a sense that the poem is not (like prose) written by phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph, but composed by the line at the syllabic level, providing the thrill of meter, rhyme, assonance, alliteration, etc." Satisfy two of these appetites, he says, and you have read or heard a good poem. Satisfy all three and you've read or heard a great poem.

Other attributes of a good poem are what Tony Hoagland describes in his book, Real sofistikashun, as "Thingitude and Causality."

Thingitude is the material world of poems––that quality, Hoagland says, which locates, coordinates, and subordinates to build up a compound picture of the world. This has a different slant than the Imagist's, and particularly Ezra Pound's tenets: those are, if you recall, (1) that there be direct treatment of the "thing," whether subjective or objective, (2) that no word be used that does not contribute to the presentation, and (3) to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome. As Hoagland describes it, Thingitude is the "seen that occupies the poetic stage." The old saw, show not tell, but a richness in sensibility that has not "obstructed or abstracted the lucidity of seeing." "Or, to put it another way," Hoagland says, "...the dialectics of the poem are represented in the particulars, not the commentary." In Thingitude there's a boundless interest in the world and its anatomy. Unlike the Imagist's insistence upon the sole use of words that contribute to the presentation, this is a verbally acrobatic description that renders the world in concrete detail, rich in content. Thingitude has the advantage of a bottomless resource because it draws upon the depths of the world.

An example of Thingitude Hoagland uses is a portion of a poem by Brenda Hillman, called "Fortress." He points to the lucidity, the particularity, and the comprehension of its looking.

1. Night Watchman

August, the season of mild excess,
and the moon comes out like a rumor;
the night watchman stands on the avenue,

kicking one low black shoe with the other
while people go in and out of the liquor store.

There is a row of bottles behind him like bowling pins,
a cashier smoking beside the jars of olives,
and a tall cardboard man in a tuxedo, holding a martini,

and colorful refrigerated items with halved, sweating fruit;

but the night watchman is sober and short,
his crooked badge has numbers and a floral wreath,

his whole body blocks the doorway
as he hums a greeting at the regulars
who have come out, in desperation, at midnight.

There are ideas in this poem Hoagland points out, that swim below the surface––such as the link between consumerism and despair. But there is no commentary. As William Carlos Williams says, the ideas are in the things themselves, the particulars.

Look at Elizabeth Bishop's poem, "The Fish," a poem I'm sure you're all familiar with, as another example of the use of Thingitude. I'm going to read a major portion of the poem.

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
––the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly––
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
––It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
––if you could call it a lip––
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw....

In this poem, Bishop has restrained the self in deference to her sensibility, in deference to her clear observation, and though she enamels her description with figurative language, we are consumed by the sheer grittiness of detail and "Thingitude."

Causality is at work, according to Hoagland, "when the poetic vision includes not just the luminous and particular present moment, but antecedents and consequences....One way to put it is that the poet's vision becomes less rapturously preoccupied by Being and more mindful of the sequences of Happening, of the ways in which reality is shaped by its histories and its contexts." How the world is linked in time describes Causality, from antecedents, to events to aftermaths. To quote Hoagland, "When things are connected not just by association, but coordinated in sequences of cause and effect, the vision of the world increases in complexity and import."

Thus, if you accept Hoagland's idea, Thingitude and Causality are attributes of a good poem, perhaps one step up the ladder of abstraction in a scoring rubric from the basic components of metaphor, imagery, rhythm, and musical language.

Let's get back to this idea of surprise. I believe a poem is doing its job if it surprises. Elizabeth Bishop considered surprise to be among the central demands to be put upon poetry and art––in other words, the action or work of surprising one into feeling or thinking.

But what is surprise in a poem? How is it produced? What triggers it? Stephen Dobyns describes surprise and what produces it in his essay, "Reader's Life." Surprise is the sudden occurrence of an unanticipated event that creates tension, partly by shaking our faith in our anticipation, and producing uncertainty. All good metaphor incorporates surprise. It's that thrill David Alpaugh speaks of.

Dobyns goes on to say, "A good poem constantly uses surprise. A poem works by setting up various patterns that heighten the reader's anticipation." I would describe these patterns as forms, structures, usages, rhythms and aural effects we are familiar with in our reading and our own writing practice. (That foundation of familiarity we spoke of earlier.) Dobyns says once a pattern has been established, then any variation creates surprise––an unexpected rhyme or half rhyme, an aural echo, line breaks that heighten or diminish the force of words, wit, irony, etc. Unexpectedness can occur in concept, rhetoric, image, syntax or word. Disruption of pattern can occur in rhyme, meter, approach, rhythm, or structure.

Osip Mandelstam wrote: "The capacity for astonishment is the poet's greatest virtue. The fresh air of poetry is the element of surprise."

Most if not all the rhetorical elements we find in a good poem, such as metaphor, imagery, wit, irony, humor, depend upon surprise. They function at triggering the response of surprise in us. Surprise, of course, is not willed by the reader––it arrives, lands in our laps. We can sense its approach as we move through the poem, every sense alert. It is the backbone of pleasure in a poem, or the knee-in-the-gut emotional reaction. It operates like Eliot's objective correlative, coming as evoked astonishment from a set of rhetorical elements in the poem. It's what Dickinson described as how she knew what she was reading was took the top of her head off.

As Dobyns says, what the poet most often uses to create tension in a poem is surprise. Tension drives the reader through the poem, makes the reader want to read and anticipate what is going to happen. If the poet has not made the reader want to read, the rest doesn't matter. Tension is the fuel that propels the reader through the landscape the poet has created.

Because the poet is always working against the reader's anticipation, the future has to be made uncertain, and the poet creates this uncertainty through surprise. Surprise is the foremost method of creating tension in poetry.

Tension develops as an anxiety within us as readers––and it can be created by apparently frustrating one or more of the patterns that we have begun to anticipate in the poem.

The poet manipulates the degree of our anticipation by manipulating the flow of information. When Sylvia Plath wrote that a poem "excludes and stuns" she was alluding to the result of the poet's successful manipulation of surprise through poetic devices to create tension.

Surprise sits atop all of the elements we have been attempting to describe as intrinsic in a "good" poem, all the appetites to be satisfied. It draws from all of the qualities we respond to in a good poem, and represents the umbrella impact, the aggregate of goodness.

Now this is important. We have to recognize that the capacity of a poem to deliver pleasing surprise depends on the specific knowledge of the reader, knowledge drawn from both life and, perhaps more importantly, from literature. It's that orientation, that shaping lens mentioned earlier, through which we read and write. What is delightfully surprising to one reader may be simply chaotic to another, and too predictable to a third.

I would like now to share a poem with you that reflects how several of the poetic devices we've been speaking of––namely wit and irony––can create surprise and hence tension in a poem. This is a poem by Tony Hoagland called "Lucky."

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to help your enemy
the way I got to help my mother
when she was weakened past the point of saying no.

Into the big enamel tub
half-filled with water
which I had made just right,
I lowered the childish skeleton
she had become.

Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed
her belly and her chest,
the sorry ruin of her flanks
and the frayed gray cloud
between her legs.

Some nights, sitting by her bed
book open in my lap
while I listened to the air
move thickly in and out of her dark lungs,
my mind filled up with praise
as lush as music,

amazed at the symmetry and luck
that would offer me the chance to pay
my heavy debt of punishment and love
with love and punishment.

And once I held her dripping wet
in the uncomfortable air
between the wheelchair and the tub,
until she begged me like a child

to stop,
an act of cruelty which we both understood
was the ancient irresistible rejoicing
of power over weakness.

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to raise the spoon
of pristine, frosty ice cream
to the trusting creature mouth
of your old enemy

because the taste buds at least are not broken
because there is a bond between you
and sweet is sweet in any language.

This poem embodies "unexpectedness" in its ironical transpositions between mother and child, between love and embitterment, between loyalty and alienation. It also exemplifies Thingitude in its stark observation of the real "now."

But what facilitates surprise besides the original and creative use of various poetic devices and strategies? Many significant thinkers recognize that Structure plays a primary role in leading us to surprise. This is not the same as form, such as the sonnet, pantoum, or sestina. Poetic structure is (as described in the book of essays entitled Structure and Surprise, edited by Michael Theune) the pattern of a poem's turning.

As Theune says, "Almost no one regularly thinks or speaks in sestinas or pantoums, but almost everyone regularly engages in structured thinking and speech, and many everyday speech acts enact particular structures, contain effective turns. Anyone who has ever confessed anything about their past in order to then make new resolutions about the future has employed the Retrospective-prospective Structure in their thoughts or speech. Even if one has never heard of the Ironic Structure, its turn from set-up to punch line is not a foreign concept to anyone who has heard or told a joke." Theune describes a number of poetic structures that embody the turn, using some rather awkward nomenclature. There are The Concessional Structure, the Emblem Structure, the Elegy's Structure, the Dialectical Argument Structure, and the Descriptive-meditative Structure (which, incidentally, was what Bishop used in "The Fish"), all having the characteristic of the surprising turn. To use Theune's words, "The notion of poetry as a combination of structure and surprise significantly challenges some longstanding, deeply-ingrained ideas about poetry," and, "Structure offers a whole new way to conceive of poems that is at once paradigm-shifting, highly sophisticated, and readily apparent and available." At minimum, Theune gives us another, more tangible, aspect of surprise in poetry. Structure's primary concern is the art of the turn, and, to the point, this often means making surprising turns. Poet-critic Mary Kinzie says, "The very keystone of logic" is "the art of making transition--the art of inference and connection, the art of modulation and (hence) surprise."

Bottom line, we need to recognize the fact that it takes someone who knows about poetry to recognize and care for good poetry. Our poetry contest culminating today is a form of social contract. We join it willingly, trusting in the knowledge and sensitivities of the judges. Probably most of us will be one another's readers, sometime. In that regard, we must dedicate ourselves to be good readers as well as dedicated writers, to seek out and enjoy surprise wherever we find it.


Bishop, Elizabeth: The Complete Poems, 1927-1979, The Noonday Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994, NY
Dobyns, Stephen: Best Words, Best Order, Essays on Poetry, St. Martin's Griffin, 1997, NY
Hirshfield, Jane: Hiddenness, Uncertainty, Surprise:Three Generative Energies of Poetry, Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry Lectures, Bloodaxe Books, 2008, U.K.

Hoagland, Tony: donkey gospel, Poems, Graywolf Press, 1998,Saint Paul, Minnesota
Hoagland, Tony: Real sofistikashun, Essays On Poetry and Craft, Graywolf Press, 2006, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Holcombe, John C.: Imagism: Poetry of Immediate Sensation,, 2007
Levitin, Daniel J.: The World in Six Songs, How The Musical Brain created Human Nature, Dutton, 2008, NY
Levitin, Daniel J.: This is Your Brain on Music, The Science of a Human Obsession, Dutton, 2006, NY
O'Driscoll, Dennis, Ed.: Quote Poet Unquote, Contemporary Quotations on Poets and Poetry, Copper Canyon Press, 2008, Port Townsend, Washington
Theune, Michael, Ed.: Structure & Surprise, Engaging Poetic Turns, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 2007, NY

Robert Lee Brewer - Top 10 To-Do list for an emerging Poet

1. KEEP THE POETRY COMING. Paint-ers paint, teachers teach, and poets poem. To excel at writing poetry, you need to flex your poetic muscles daily, even if it’s just revising an earlier work.

2. READ POETRY BY OTHERS. Too many poets worry that their voices will be influenced by the voices of other poets. Don’t fall into this trap. You need to study what you like and do not like from other poets and use that as inspiration for your own work.

3. STUDY POETIC FORMS. While you may decide against publishing sonnets, sestinas and haiku, trying various forms can only help your poetic development. After all, the form of a poem (even free verse) is the skeleton and skin that holds the content together for the reader.

4. ATTEND OPEN MICS. Performing is optional, but poets should at least listen to the spoken word occasionally. Poetry is as much an oral as a visual genre of writing. As such, it benefits a poet to understand the sounds of poetry. Plus, open mics are great for meeting other poets.

5. EXPERIMENT. Is there a poetic “rule” you just don’t like? Try breaking it. Then, look for other rules to bend. Often, the poets who are remembered and quoted are the ones who learned to do something well and then took it in a new direction.

6. REVISE. While there are exceptions, the best poems are written through the revision process. This is a great stage for experimenting. And if a crazy revision doesn’t work (removing all the adverbs just to see what happens?), simply revert to the last draft.

7. CONNECT WITH OTHER POETS. Go to readings, workshops, conferences, social media sites and anywhere else you can connect. Other poets can help keep you motivated to write and submit.

8. SHARE YOUR WORK. Give your poems to friends and family as gifts. Share good collections you’ve read. Remember: As a poet, you are an ambassador of poetry to those who are afraid to read it or think it’s something they just don’t “get.”

9. SUBMIT. Consult a resource like Poet's Market (which I edit) and submit your poems to publications. Through the simple act of following guidelines and receiving feedback (whether through acceptance or rejection), you’ll learn to target an audience and revise appropriately.

10. PUBLISH ON YOUR OWN. Take a do-it-yourself stance to sharing your best work.

Jane Hirshfield - The Adamantine Perfection of Desire

Jane studied Budhism for 8-10 years before writing a majority of her poetry. She seems to know not just poetry, but life. She uses the word assent. I like it ... another beautiful way of describing of my dear Guru Nanak calls "Rajai" or surrendered. Approval or agreement says the dictionary. Here is the poem:

The Adamantine Perfection of Desire
by Jane Hirshfield

Nothing more strong
than to be helpless before desire.

No reason,
the simplified heart whispers,
the argument over,
only This.

No longer choosing anything but assent.

Its bowl scraped clean to the bottom,
the skull-bone cup no longer horrifies,
but, rimmed in silver, shines.

A spotted dog follows a bitch in heat.
Gray geese flying past us, crying.
The living cannot help but love the world.

Percy Freeman - Creating Forever

To be a memory, to be unforgettable, to forever dwell in the hearts of men.
To have no end
Life without age
A book with no last page
A story with a beginning
But no ending
Through a legacy
To forever be
To become one of the few that have cheated death
Living beyond our last breath
Is this why we create
So that through our work we can avoid fate

Frank Zappa - Music

"Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.”- Frank Zappa

In Spanish:
La información no es conocimiento. El conocimiento no es sabiduría. La sabiduría no es verdad. La verdad no es la belleza. La belleza no es amor. El amor no es la música. La música es LO MEJOR. "- Frank Zappa

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dalai Lama - Inner Peace Key To Happiness

It is clear that inner peace is the principal cause of happiness. We can observe this in our daily lives. On days when we are calm and happy, even if difficulties arise or we fall victim to a mishap, we take it well, it doesn’t bother us unduly. But on days when we feel sad or have lost our usual calmness, the least little annoyance will take on enormous proportions and be deeply upsetting to us. - Dalai Lama

10 ways to make donations for Japan Victims

In addition to reading and sharing the spiritual poem "Sunrise After 8.9", Here are 10 ways to making donations for Japan's 8.9 quake victims.

1. Text to donate:
The American Red Cross has again launched a texting campaign to raise money for relief efforts in the Pacific region. To donate to the American Red Cross for Japan Earthquake Relief, text REDCROSS to 90999. Each text will provide $10 towards the Red Cross’s humanitarian efforts.

2. Donate through Causes/Facebook

3. Donate to United Nations Central Relief Fund:

4. Send money to Red Cross using google:

5. Donate through World Vision
World Vision Online Donation

6. Donate via iTunes:

7. Donate to Unicef

8. Donate to

9. Buy virtual goods through Second Life:

10. Through Farmville/Zynga:


Using Twitter: Tweet with special earthquake hashtags in Japanese

When tweeting, consider using the following hashtags to help identify your tweet.
#Jishin: General earthquake information
#J_j_helpme: Requests for rescue or other aid
#Hinan: Evacuation information
#Anpi: Confirmation of safety of individuals, places, etc.
#311care: Medical information for victims

Sunrise After 8.9 - A Prayer for the Tsunamied Soul

Inspired by a project (Poets for Tsunami Relief) by inspiring poet Heather Grace Stewart earlier today I wrote this poem. As my other poems, this is a poem I wrote for strength for myself after seeing media coverage of Japan's monster quake, which I refer to by 8.9. If this resonates with you, please share it with friends and family.

Also, if you are interested in donating, here is a list of 10 ways you can make a donation for Japan's relief: Donate for Tsunami Relief

- Shiv

Sunrise After 8.9

there was
a gory dark time
of an eclipse
of 8.9!

But far
on a rosy horizon
to have darkness undone
sits another baby

I feel
it somewhat low
but I still feel it
with glow

This is
the sun that
will bring close those
who in current life are cast
and memories of those
who were amongst us
in the near

This is
the sun that will
shine upon what's in disdain
and upon what cannot be
put together

its rays
reflect the
pain (that trembling thrust)
of my dear brothers and sisters
and warmly touch me
as a reminder
of oneness
of us

My soul
feels the warmth
in their acceptance
of the power of nature's will
and feels the pain in
their surrender-
ed smiles

I feel
them somewhat near;
and ever more

far out
on a rosy horizon
to have grave darkness undone
I feel surely sits
baby sun

will again
from its cradle
in the east shine the sun
just like ages ago
its luster had

Hail the sun
for rising again!
Hail the sun
for shining again!

I feel
it somewhat low
but I really feel
it glow

My feelings world will grow
as per the master plan
the sun that now lies low
will again rise from Japan

- Shiv

Robert Hass - Gift of Earth

"If art doesn't somehow preserve our memory of the gift of life on Earth we have lost." - Robert Hass talking about Czeslaw Milosz's ideology. Czeslaw was Hass' mentor.

I extracted this from an interview he did with PBS. Here is the interview:

JEFFREY BROWN: There were actually two winners in the poetry category this year. Philip Schultz won for his book "Failure" and Robert Hass for his book "Time and Materials," which also won the National Book Award.

Hass is a noted translator and teacher at the University of California at Berkeley. He served as poet laureate for two years in the mid-'90s, the last time he joined us on this program.

So I can say welcome back, and congratulations to you.

ROBERT HASS, Poet: Thank you, Jeff, very much.

JEFFREY BROWN: I think I'm right that many of these poems in this collection were written at a time when you had various public roles.

ROBERT HASS: That's right.

JEFFREY BROWN: Laureate, you were writing a column, doing various things. So what did these poems represent for you?

ROBERT HASS: Well, I don't know what they represented, but they were a way of checking in with myself, inside that life, that is, I could be -- you know, I could be on a train heading from New York to some place in New Jersey, and see the lights burning out over the grasslands, and say to myself, "Secret, there's fire out over the grasslands."

It was a way of -- if lines came to me, it was like checking in with myself. "You still there?" "Yes, I'm still there."

JEFFREY BROWN: Checking in with yourself while you're living this public life, talking up poetry to the world.


The problem of describing trees
JEFFREY BROWN: There's a poem early on here that maybe you could read for us, because it gets at a lot of different themes that you write about. Could you read that for us? It's called "The Problem of Describing Trees."

ROBERT HASS: "The Problem of Describing Trees." So I think another thing that happened because of this distraction hiatus is that, when you return to the materials of the art, there's a thing of, what kind of an instrument is this that you were doing?


ROBERT HASS: Yes, what are you doing with it? So this is "The Problem of Describing Trees."

The aspen glitters in the wind.
And that delights us.
The leaf flutters, turning,
Because that motion in the heat of August
Protects its cells from drying out. Likewise the leaf
Of the cottonwood.
The gene pool threw up a wobbly stem
And the tree danced. No.
The tree capitalized.
No. There are limits to saying,
In language, what the tree did.
It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us.
Dance with me, dancer. Oh, I will.
Mountains, sky,
The aspens doing something in the wind.

JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the line, "There are limits to saying in language what the tree did."

ROBERT HASS: Yes. Limits of saying anything

JEFFREY BROWN: By implication, there are limits to say anything.

ROBERT HASS: Yes. I mean, there are two ways of saying this -- or there are a million ways of saying this. One way is to say what Wittgenstein said, language philosophy in the early 20th century, "The limits of my language are the limits of my world," which I don't think is quite true.

And the other is to say what Ed Wilson, the environmentalist and entomologist, biogeographer said, which is that every species lives in its own sensory world and, at some point, it dawns on you that you just -- we don't have a language for what would be the experience of a tree or, for that matter, a fox or a robin. So...

JEFFREY BROWN: So much of your work is about trying to examine or describe things like that. And I think I can understand the problem of finding the right words or any words.

But what I am not sure I understand -- and maybe this is what distinguishes poets from the rest of us -- is, why the need to describe trees? What is the burden on you that you must come up with a way to describe the world?

ROBERT HASS: My mind goes straight to my dear friend and mentor, Czeslaw Milosz, who...

JEFFREY BROWN: Great poet.

ROBERT HASS: ... great poet, and he was born in Lithuania in 1911. And he lived through much of the worst violence of the 20th century in Europe. He lost so much that I know -- I came to understand about him.

One of his poems begins, "Reality, what is it in words?" I came to understand about him that he'd lost so much that he felt like everything he didn't get down -- if he didn't get it down, nothingness won, you know?

JEFFREY BROWN: If he didn't get it down into a poem...

ROBERT HASS: Yes, nothingness won. He had this sense that, if art doesn't somehow preserve our memory of the gift of life on Earth we've lost, so something like that.

On teaching and translating poetry
JEFFREY BROWN: Is that -- and you're well known as a translator of his works and others, a teacher and a poet. Is that how you have come through the years to see what the work of a poet is?

ROBERT HASS: Yes, it's somehow -- yes, I have to say, also, the work of teaching poetry. I feel like I get to pass onto people, you know, what Emily Dickinson said it was like to be alive on a winter afternoon in New England in the middle of the 19th century, you know?

I get to say there's a certain slant of light winter afternoons that oppresses, like Whitman's lines about summer grasses in New York State.

Yes, I do. I do have that feeling, that that's one of the things the art can do, is just say, "I was here. I was alive. Here's what it was like for me to be alive." It's a poem I've translated by Basho, the Japanese poet, that just -- a haiku that just goes, "Deep autumn, my neighbor. How does he live, I wonder?"

JEFFREY BROWN: "How does he live, I wonder?"

ROBERT HASS: "I wonder?" Terrific old poem that just ends with this interrogative in Japanese. And one of the places you can find an answer to that question is in poetry and in music and in art. It's where we say to each other, "This is what it's like to be alive."

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Robert Hass, congratulations to you, and it's nice to talk to you again.

ROBERT HASS: Thanks. Thanks very much, Jeff. Nice to see you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You can hear Robert Hass read more poems and ask him your own questions in our online Insider Forum by visiting our Web site at

Michelle Casto - Letting Go

Michelle Casto is my angel today for reminding me, in these very beautiful words, that when you let go your ego, you become free.
There is only one way to treat ego,
with all your might, let it go!

Michelle says, "Let go a little, u will have a little happiness. let go a lot, you will have a lot of happiness. let go completely, you will have freedom."

Specifically, this reminds me the second verse of my dear Guru Nanak's great poem Japji on Oneness: Hukam - His Will.

More about Michelle:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hukam Rajai - Surrender to Will (Japji 1)

"Hukam rajai" assumes that Ekonkar is sovereign and we do not have much control. So a lot of the things we do to attain peace/freedom/happiness are useless. The only action that makes sense is "Hukam Rajai" -- surrendering to the will to the ruler of our destiny. Surrendering is nothing but loving. And singing is the expression of love! So, the purpose of life remains to sing! This is what my Dear Guru Nanak meant in the 15/16th century in this morning prayer, Japji when he said "Hukam Rajai."

Here are interpretations of Guru Nanak's poem "Hukam Rajai" (Japji 1).


On the path of purity
I did not become clean
On the path of silence
I did not gain peace
On the path of riches
I did not gain wealth
On the path of intelligence
I did not gain wisdom
Walking the path of acceptance
I found the noble truth.
June 24, 2011
- Shiv

Crossing the clean path
I did not become pure
Striding the silent path
I did not gain peace
Going the gilded path
I did not gain wealth
In the intelligent path
I did not gain wisdom
On the path of love
I found everything.

- Shiv
June 22, 2011

Do not try to clean
what can't be made pure
Do not try to quiet
what can't be at peace
Do not try to feed
hunger that doesn't die
Do not try to know
what can't be understood
Acede to the power
that rules everyone

- Shiv
March 18, 2011

Hukam Rajai - Path of Surrender

On the path of purity
I did not become clean
On the path of silence
I did not gain peace
On the path of riches
I did not gain wealth
On the path of intelligence
I did not gain wisdom
Walking the path of surrender
I found the noble truth.

March 14, 2011

Thinking does not unthaw truth
by churning thoughts tier on tier
Silencing scarcely brings silence
by sitting soundless year after year

Hunger will still linger no matter
how many heaps are hoarded here
Like flickers of candles in the wind
the best of wits will disappear

What is then the light of truth
whose brillance makes the path clear
Living in grace inspite of darkness
and singing His song everywhere

- Shiv

ee cummings - seeker of truth

seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here

- ee cummings

Inspired me to write the following interpretation of Guru Nanak's "Hukam Rajai":

Hukam Rajai - Path of Surrender

On the path of purity
I did not become clean
On the path of silence
I did not gain peace
On the path of riches
I did not gain wealth
On the path of intelligence
I did not gain wisdom
Walking the path of surrender
I found the noble truth.

- Shiv

Other interpretations of Japji 1: Hukam Rajai

Lao Tzu - Flow as life

"Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force." ~Lao Tzu

Barry Manilow - Can't smile without you lyrics

You know I Can't Smile Without You,
I Can't Smile Without You,
I can't laugh
and I can't sing,
I'm findin' it hard to do anything.
You see, I feel sad when you're sad,
I feel glad when you're glad,
If You only knew what I'm go ing through,
I just Can't Smile Without You.

You came along just like a song
and brightened my day,
Who'd've believe that you were part of a dream
Now it all seems light years away.

And now you know I Can't Smile WIthout You,
I Can't Smile Without You,
I can't laugh and I can't sing,
I'm finding it hard to do anything.
You see, I feel sad when you're sad,
I feel glad when you're glad,
If you only knew what I"m going through,
I just can't smile.

Now some people say happiness takes so very long to find.
Well I'm finding it hard leaving your love behind me.
And you see,
I Can't Smile Without You,
I Can't Smile Without You,
I can't laugh
and I can't sing,
I'm findin' it hard to do anything.
You see, I feel sad when you're sad,
I feel glad when you're glad,
If You only knew what I'm going through,
I just Can't Smile Without You

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Peter Reijnders - The essence

Whatever name you give to any religion, it is never more then a coat covering the essence. The essence needs no name or cover, it is for all.
~ Peter Reijnders

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lord Byron - Sharing joy

To have joy one must share it. Happiness was born a twin.

~ Lord Byron

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thomas Gray - Ode on the death of a favorite cat


By Thomas Gray

’Twas on a lofty vase’s side,
Where China’s gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy declared;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purred applause.

Still had she gazed; but ’midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The genii of the stream;
Their scaly armour’s Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.

The hapless nymph with wonder saw;
A whisker first and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat’s averse to fish?

Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretch’d, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled)
The slippery verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.
Eight times emerging from the flood
She mewed to every watery god,
Some speedy aid to send.
No dolphin came, no Nereid stirred;
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard;
A Favourite has no friend!

From hence, ye beauties, undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne’er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters, gold.

Hildegarde of Bingen - Music of Heaven

There is the Music of Heaven in all things and we have forgotten how to hear it until we sing. ~Hildegarde of Bingen

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rumi - One Song

[From Raza Rumi] The Islam that Rumi speaks from within is not one that separates us into different religions. Amazingly, it is one that celebrates how we can meet in Friendship and sing One Song. Here is one of his most famous poems.

This is how Rumi sings Ekonkar - And his message is that singing (praising) is the way to pour back the "light" we received in the first place. Praising is therefore a color of singing ... Indian classical musicians sing praises in raag Jaijaiwanti! In Jaijaiwanti Guru Tegh Bahadur says, "That is your purpose, Remember Raam!"

One Song

Every war and every conflict between human beings
has happened because of some disagreement about names.

It is such an unnecessary foolishness,
because just beyond the arguing
there is a long table of companionship
set and waiting for us to sit down.

What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured into a huge basin.
All religions, all this singing, one song.
The differences are just illusion and vanity.
Sunlight looks a little different on this wall
than it does on that wall
and a lot different on this other one,
but it is still one light.

We have borrowed these clothes,
these time-and-space personalities,
from a light, and when we praise,
we are pouring them back in.

Kenny Rogers - You Decorated My Life (lyrics)

This is how love changes a person ... we get more colorful! That is why I say the purpose of life is to sing. And you have to have love so you can sing. Because love is what decorates life. So singing without love, would be like a painting without color. Boring!

This song is likely about romantic love, but it fits so well with spiritual love too! It reminds me of what my dear Guru says "I am colored in your color." Here is the song by Kenny Rogers:

All my life was a paper once
plain, pure and white
Till you moved with your pen
changin' moods now and then
Till the balance was right

Then you added some music,
ev'ry note was in place
And anybody could see
all the changes in me
by the look on my face

And you
decorated my life,
created a world
where dreams are a part

And you
decorated my life
by paintin' your love
all over my heart

decorated my life

Like a rhyme with no reason
in an unfinished song
There was no harmony
life meant nothin' to me,
until you cam along

And you brought out the colors,
what a gentle surprise
Now I'm able to see
all the things life can be
shinin' soft in your eyes

And you
decorated my life,
created a world
where dreams are a part

And you
decorated my life
by paintin' your love
all over my heart
You decorated my life

Guru Nanak - Woman's place is next to God

Today we are celebrating the centenary of International Women’s Day. Here is a rough translation of the beautiful sentiment laid out in Raag Asa (a song of hope) by my dear Guru Nanak. He says, that the rightful place of woman is only next to God; this he says with hope in Raag Asa.

Today, in a progressive government of the US, less than 1 out 5 legislators are women (CNN). Women perform 66% of the world's work, earn 10% of world's income and own 1% of the world's property ( It shows how much we still have to learn from this sage who was so far ahead of his time in preaching gender equality in the 16th century, four hundred years before we even started celebrating International Women's Day. I hope for change too ... for my little 5 year old, and countless others who have the same father as me.


Within woman, man is conceived;
From woman, man is born;

To woman he is engaged, then married.
Woman remains his close friend
with her life's path is laid.

When his woman dies,
man seeks another woman;
he cannot do without her.

Weren't kings
born from her?
And other women too?

And Man calls her bad!
And He thinks her low!
Why I ask, why?

Without woman there'd be no one at all;
I say woman's place is next to God.

– Guru Nanak, Raag Aasaa Mehal 1, Page 473

More from Guru Nanak: Rajai - In Grace

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Darius Rucker's This - Nothing was a mistake

Times are now never low
As I sing in Grace
Because now I know
Nothing was a mistake

- Shiv

Earlier today I turned on the TV to watch top 20 country songs, which I tend to do once in a while on weekends. And I heard Darius Rucker's song "This" as number 12 on the list ...

I love country songs -- even though it makes me somewhat a lone ranger in California -- because most of them are purely American; most of them are purely from the heart. They are just beautiful. Especially the ones that celebrate life. They are the ones that teach me again, that the purpose of life is to sing.

Hear this song and you will know what my dear Guru Nanak meant by "Rajai" -- this is walking in grace, this is singing life's song as it comes ... because nothing was a mistake. This!

So many uncertainties in life. And so many choices I made. So many I didn't. One small, little change, I would not be here. Everything in my life was planned so well! All happenings came about to get me to where I have come. I am grateful and so I sing with love ... I hear other angels who sing in harmony with me, like Darius Rucker:

Got a baby girl sleeping in my bedroom
And her mama laughing in my arms
There's the sound of rain on the rooftop
And the game's about to start

I don't really know how I got here
But I'm sure glad that I did
And it's crazy to think that one little thing
Could've changed all of it

Maybe it didn't turn out like I planned
Maybe that's why I'm such, such a lucky man

For every stoplight I didn't make
Every chance I did or I didn't take
All the nights I went too far
All the girls that broke my heart
All the doors that I had to close
All the things I knew but I didn't know
Thank God for all I missed
Cause it led me here to This

Like the girl that I loved in high school
Who said she could do better
Or that college I wanted to go to
'Til I got that letter

All the fights and the tears and the heartache
I thought I'd never get through
And the moment I almost gave up
All lead me here to you

I didn't understand it way back when
But sitting here right now it all makes perfect sense

For every stoplight I didn't make
Every chance I did or I didn't take
All the nights I went too far
All the girls that broke my heart
All the doors that I had to close
All the things I knew but I didn't know
Thank God for all I missed
Cause it led me here to This

How I cried when my mama passed away
But now I've got an angel looking out for me today
So nothing's a mistake

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Walt Whitman - Starting from Paumanok

I read a classic poem from Walt Whitman today, Starting from Paumanok. One beautiful aspect of Whitman's writing -- which I found in all that I have read from him -- is joyful acceptance of the positives and negatives in the world. I was admiring this aspect in the celebration of Shivratri yesterday. Here is Walt Whitman celebrating Shivratri:

I will make the true poem of riches,
And I will show that there is no imperfection in the present, and
can be none in the future,
And I will show that whatever happens to anybody it may be turn'd to
beautiful results,
And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death,

Once you are one with Om, you feel the presence of Ekonkar, the common vibration of this universe, you find yourself singing Walt's song. You find yourself writing Walt's poetry.

I read this poem for the first time today, and I have a strange feeling of Oneness after reading this. As if it was written by me. Since I now have Walt Whitman on my Kindle, I am sure I will be going back to read it again. When I forget the true Path to Peace -- that the true purpose of life is to sing -- I will read Walt's poetry and feel I have written it.

Starting from Paumanok

Starting from fish-shape Paumanok where I was born,
Well-begotten, and rais'd by a perfect mother,
After roaming many lands, lover of populous pavements,
Dweller in Mannahatta my city, or on southern savannas,
Or a soldier camp'd or carrying my knapsack and gun, or a miner in California,
Or rude in my home in Dakota's woods, my diet meat, my drink from the spring,
Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep recess,
Far from the clank of crowds intervals passing rapt and happy,
Aware of the fresh free giver the flowing Missouri, aware of mighty Niagara,
Aware of the buffalo herds grazing the plains, the hirsute and strong-breasted bull,
Of earth, rocks, Fifth-month flowers experienced, stars, rain, snow, my amaze,
Having studied the mocking-bird's tones and the flight of the
And heard at dawn the unrivall'd one, the hermit thrush from the
Solitary, singing in the West, I strike up for a New World.
Victory, union, faith, identity, time,
The indissoluble compacts, riches, mystery,
Eternal progress, the kosmos, and the modern reports.
This then is life,
Here is what has come to the surface after so many throes and convulsions.

How curious! how real!
Underfoot the divine soil, overhead the sun.

See revolving the globe,
The ancestor-continents away group'd together,
The present and future continents north and south, with the isthmus

See, vast trackless spaces,
As in a dream they change, they swiftly fill,
Countless masses debouch upon them,
They are now cover'd with the foremost people, arts, institutions, known.

See, projected through time,
For me an audience interminable.

With firm and regular step they wend, they never stop,
Successions of men, Americanos, a hundred millions,
One generation playing its part and passing on,
Another generation playing its part and passing on in its turn,
With faces turn'd sideways or backward towards me to listen,
With eyes retrospective towards me.

Americanos! conquerors! marches humanitarian!
Foremost! century marches! Libertad! masses!
For you a programme of chants.

Chants of the prairies,
Chants of the long-running Mississippi, and down to the Mexican sea,
Chants of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota,
Chants going forth from the centre from Kansas, and thence equidistant,
Shooting in pulses of fire ceaseless to vivify all.

Take my leaves America, take them South and take them North,
Make welcome for them everywhere, for they are your own off-spring,
Surround them East and West, for they would surround you,
And you precedents, connect lovingly with them, for they connect
lovingly with you.

I conn'd old times,
I sat studying at the feet of the great masters,
Now if eligible O that the great masters might return and study me.

In the name of these States shall I scorn the antique?
Why these are the children of the antique to justify it.

Dead poets, philosophs, priests,
Martyrs, artists, inventors, governments long since,
Language-shapers on other shores,
Nations once powerful, now reduced, withdrawn, or desolate,
I dare not proceed till I respectfully credit what you have left
wafted hither,
I have perused it, own it is admirable, (moving awhile among it,)
Think nothing can ever be greater, nothing can ever deserve more
than it deserves,
Regarding it all intently a long while, then dismissing it,
I stand in my place with my own day here.

Here lands female and male,
Here the heir-ship and heiress-ship of the world, here the flame of
Here spirituality the translatress, the openly-avow'd,
The ever-tending, the finale of visible forms,
The satisfier, after due long-waiting now advancing,
Yes here comes my mistress the soul.

The soul,
Forever and forever--longer than soil is brown and solid--longer
than water ebbs and flows.
I will make the poems of materials, for I think they are to be the
most spiritual poems,
And I will make the poems of my body and of mortality,
For I think I shall then supply myself with the poems of my soul and
of immortality.

I will make a song for these States that no one State may under any
circumstances be subjected to another State,
And I will make a song that there shall be comity by day and by
night between all the States, and between any two of them,
And I will make a song for the ears of the President, full of
weapons with menacing points,
And behind the weapons countless dissatisfied faces;
And a song make I of the One form'd out of all,
The fang'd and glittering One whose head is over all,
Resolute warlike One including and over all,
(However high the head of any else that head is over all.)

I will acknowledge contemporary lands,
I will trail the whole geography of the globe and salute courteously
every city large and small,
And employments! I will put in my poems that with you is heroism
upon land and sea,
And I will report all heroism from an American point of view.

I will sing the song of companionship,
I will show what alone must finally compact these,
I believe these are to found their own ideal of manly love,
indicating it in me,
I will therefore let flame from me the burning fires that were
threatening to consume me,
I will lift what has too long kept down those smouldering fires,
I will give them complete abandonment,
I will write the evangel-poem of comrades and of love,
For who but I should understand love with all its sorrow and joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?

I am the credulous man of qualities, ages, races,
I advance from the people in their own spirit,
Here is what sings unrestricted faith.

Omnes! omnes! let others ignore what they may,
I make the poem of evil also, I commemorate that part also,
I am myself just as much evil as good, and my nation is--and I say
there is in fact no evil,
(Or if there is I say it is just as important to you, to the land or
to me, as any thing else.)

I too, following many and follow'd by many, inaugurate a religion, I
descend into the arena,
(It may be I am destin'd to utter the loudest cries there, the
winner's pealing shouts,
Who knows? they may rise from me yet, and soar above every thing.)

Each is not for its own sake,
I say the whole earth and all the stars in the sky are for religion's sake.

I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough,
None has ever yet adored or worship'd half enough,
None has begun to think how divine he himself is, and how certain
the future is.

I say that the real and permanent grandeur of these States must be
their religion,
Otherwise there is just no real and permanent grandeur;
(Nor character nor life worthy the name without religion,
Nor land nor man or woman without religion.)

What are you doing young man?
Are you so earnest, so given up to literature, science, art, amours?
These ostensible realities, politics, points?
Your ambition or business whatever it may be?

It is well--against such I say not a word, I am their poet also,
But behold! such swiftly subside, burnt up for religion's sake,
For not all matter is fuel to heat, impalpable flame, the essential
life of the earth,
Any more than such are to religion.

What do you seek so pensive and silent?
What do you need camerado?
Dear son do you think it is love?

Listen dear son--listen America, daughter or son,
It is a painful thing to love a man or woman to excess, and yet it
satisfies, it is great,
But there is something else very great, it makes the whole coincide,
It, magnificent, beyond materials, with continuous hands sweeps and
provides for all.

Know you, solely to drop in the earth the germs of a greater religion,
The following chants each for its kind I sing.

My comrade!
For you to share with me two greatnesses, and a third one rising
inclusive and more resplendent,
The greatness of Love and Democracy, and the greatness of Religion.

Melange mine own, the unseen and the seen,
Mysterious ocean where the streams empty,
Prophetic spirit of materials shifting and flickering around me,
Living beings, identities now doubtless near us in the air that we
know not of,
Contact daily and hourly that will not release me,
These selecting, these in hints demanded of me.

Not he with a daily kiss onward from childhood kissing me,
Has winded and twisted around me that which holds me to him,
Any more than I am held to the heavens and all the spiritual world,
After what they have done to me, suggesting themes.

O such themes--equalities! O divine average!
Warblings under the sun, usher'd as now, or at noon, or setting,
Strains musical flowing through ages, now reaching hither,
I take to your reckless and composite chords, add to them, and
cheerfully pass them forward.

As I have walk'd in Alabama my morning walk,
I have seen where the she-bird the mocking-bird sat on her nest in
the briers hatching her brood.

I have seen the he-bird also,
I have paus'd to hear him near at hand inflating his throat and
joyfully singing.

And while I paus'd it came to me that what he really sang for was
not there only,
Nor for his mate nor himself only, nor all sent back by the echoes,
But subtle, clandestine, away beyond,
A charge transmitted and gift occult for those being born.

Democracy! near at hand to you a throat is now inflating itself and
joyfully singing.

Ma femme! for the brood beyond us and of us,
For those who belong here and those to come,
I exultant to be ready for them will now shake out carols stronger
and haughtier than have ever yet been heard upon earth.

I will make the songs of passion to give them their way,
And your songs outlaw'd offenders, for I scan you with kindred eyes,
and carry you with me the same as any.

I will make the true poem of riches,
To earn for the body and the mind whatever adheres and goes forward
and is not dropt by death;
I will effuse egotism and show it underlying all, and I will be the
bard of personality,
And I will show of male and female that either is but the equal of
the other,
And sexual organs and acts! do you concentrate in me, for I am determin'd
to tell you with courageous clear voice to prove you illustrious,
And I will show that there is no imperfection in the present, and
can be none in the future,
And I will show that whatever happens to anybody it may be turn'd to
beautiful results,
And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death,
And I will thread a thread through my poems that time and events are
And that all the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each
as profound as any.

I will not make poems with reference to parts,
But I will make poems, songs, thoughts, with reference to ensemble,
And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with reference to
all days,
And I will not make a poem nor the least part of a poem but has
reference to the soul,
Because having look'd at the objects of the universe, I find there
is no one nor any particle of one but has reference to the soul.

Was somebody asking to see the soul?
See, your own shape and countenance, persons, substances, beasts,
the trees, the running rivers, the rocks and sands.

All hold spiritual joys and afterwards loosen them;
How can the real body ever die and be buried?

Of your real body and any man's or woman's real body,
Item for item it will elude the hands of the corpse-cleaners and
pass to fitting spheres,
Carrying what has accrued to it from the moment of birth to the
moment of death.

Not the types set up by the printer return their impression, the
meaning, the main concern,
Any more than a man's substance and life or a woman's substance and
life return in the body and the soul,
Indifferently before death and after death.

Behold, the body includes and is the meaning, the main concern and
includes and is the soul;
Whoever you are, how superb and how divine is your body, or any part
of it!

Whoever you are, to you endless announcements!

Daughter of the lands did you wait for your poet?
Did you wait for one with a flowing mouth and indicative hand?
Toward the male of the States, and toward the female of the States,
Exulting words, words to Democracy's lands.

Interlink'd, food-yielding lands!
Land of coal and iron! land of gold! land of cotton, sugar, rice!
Land of wheat, beef, pork! land of wool and hemp! land of the apple
and the grape!
Land of the pastoral plains, the grass-fields of the world! land of
those sweet-air'd interminable plateaus!
Land of the herd, the garden, the healthy house of adobie!
Lands where the north-west Columbia winds, and where the south-west
Colorado winds!
Land of the eastern Chesapeake! land of the Delaware!
Land of Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan!
Land of the Old Thirteen! Massachusetts land! land of Vermont and
Land of the ocean shores! land of sierras and peaks!
Land of boatmen and sailors! fishermen's land!
Inextricable lands! the clutch'd together! the passionate ones!
The side by side! the elder and younger brothers! the bony-limb'd!
The great women's land! the feminine! the experienced sisters and
the inexperienced sisters!
Far breath'd land! Arctic braced! Mexican breez'd! the diverse! the
The Pennsylvanian! the Virginian! the double Carolinian!
O all and each well-loved by me! my intrepid nations! O I at any
rate include you all with perfect love!
I cannot be discharged from you! not from one any sooner than another!
O death! O for all that, I am yet of you unseen this hour with
irrepressible love,
Walking New England, a friend, a traveler,
Splashing my bare feet in the edge of the summer ripples on
Paumanok's sands,
Crossing the prairies, dwelling again in Chicago, dwelling in every town,
Observing shows, births, improvements, structures, arts,
Listening to orators and oratresses in public halls,
Of and through the States as during life, each man and woman my neighbor,
The Louisianian, the Georgian, as near to me, and I as near to him and her,
The Mississippian and Arkansian yet with me, and I yet with any of them,
Yet upon the plains west of the spinal river, yet in my house of adobie,
Yet returning eastward, yet in the Seaside State or in Maryland,
Yet Kanadian cheerily braving the winter, the snow and ice welcome to me,
Yet a true son either of Maine or of the Granite State, or the
Narragansett Bay State, or the Empire State,
Yet sailing to other shores to annex the same, yet welcoming every
new brother,
Hereby applying these leaves to the new ones from the hour they
unite with the old ones,
Coming among the new ones myself to be their companion and equal,
coming personally to you now,
Enjoining you to acts, characters, spectacles, with me.

With me with firm holding, yet haste, haste on.
For your life adhere to me,
(I may have to be persuaded many times before I consent to give
myself really to you, but what of that?
Must not Nature be persuaded many times?)

No dainty dolce affettuoso I,
Bearded, sun-burnt, gray-neck'd, forbidding, I have arrived,
To be wrestled with as I pass for the solid prizes of the universe,
For such I afford whoever can persevere to win them.

On my way a moment I pause,
Here for you! and here for America!
Still the present I raise aloft, still the future of the States I
harbinge glad and sublime,
And for the past I pronounce what the air holds of the red aborigines.

The red aborigines,
Leaving natural breaths, sounds of rain and winds, calls as of birds
and animals in the woods, syllabled to us for names,
Okonee, Koosa, Ottawa, Monongahela, Sauk, Natchez, Chattahoochee,
Kaqueta, Oronoco,
Wabash, Miami, Saginaw, Chippewa, Oshkosh, Walla-Walla,
Leaving such to the States they melt, they depart, charging the
water and the land with names.

Expanding and swift, henceforth,
Elements, breeds, adjustments, turbulent, quick and audacious,
A world primal again, vistas of glory incessant and branching,
A new race dominating previous ones and grander far, with new contests,
New politics, new literatures and religions, new inventions and arts.

These, my voice announcing--I will sleep no more but arise,
You oceans that have been calm within me! how I feel you,
fathomless, stirring, preparing unprecedented waves and storms.

See, steamers steaming through my poems,
See, in my poems immigrants continually coming and landing,
See, in arriere, the wigwam, the trail, the hunter's hut, the flat-boat,
the maize-leaf, the claim, the rude fence, and the backwoods village,
See, on the one side the Western Sea and on the other the Eastern Sea,
how they advance and retreat upon my poems as upon their own shores,
See, pastures and forests in my poems--see, animals wild and tame--see,
beyond the Kaw, countless herds of buffalo feeding on short curly grass,
See, in my poems, cities, solid, vast, inland, with paved streets,
with iron and stone edifices, ceaseless vehicles, and commerce,
See, the many-cylinder'd steam printing-press--see, the electric
telegraph stretching across the continent,
See, through Atlantica's depths pulses American Europe reaching,
pulses of Europe duly return'd,
See, the strong and quick locomotive as it departs, panting, blowing
the steam-whistle,
See, ploughmen ploughing farms--see, miners digging mines--see,
the numberless factories,
See, mechanics busy at their benches with tools--see from among them
superior judges, philosophs, Presidents, emerge, drest in
working dresses,
See, lounging through the shops and fields of the States, me
well-belov'd, close-held by day and night,
Hear the loud echoes of my songs there--read the hints come at last.

O camerado close! O you and me at last, and us two only.
O a word to clear one's path ahead endlessly!
O something ecstatic and undemonstrable! O music wild!
O now I triumph--and you shall also;
O hand in hand--O wholesome pleasure--O one more desirer and lover!
O to haste firm holding--to haste, haste on with me.