Photo: Orthodox cleric during Ottoman Empire by Pascal Sebah
Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face
grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.
In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
The sense of their mysterious encounter.
And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am
(Rainer Maria Rilke)
Source and Recommended Reading:
'The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry'
By Stephen Mitchell (Editor)
An anthology of poetry chosen from the world's great religious and literary traditions--the perfect companion to the bestselling Tao Te Ching.
• The Upanishads • The Book of Psalms • Lao-tzu • The Bhagavad Gita • Chuang-tzu • The Odes of Solomon • Seng-ts'an • Han-shan • Li Po • Tu Fu • Layman P'ang • Kukai • Tung-shan • Symeon the New Theologian • Izumi Shikibu • Su Tung-p'o • Hildegard of Bingen • Francis of Assisi • Wu-men • Dõgen • Rumi • Mechthild of Magdeburg • Dante • Kabir Mirabai • William Shakespeare • George Herbert • Bunan • Gensei • Angelus Silesius • Thomas Traherne • Basho • William Blake • Ryõkan • Issa • Ghalib • Bibi Hayati • Wait Whitman • Emily Dickinson • Gerard Manley Hopkins • Uvavnuk • Anonymous Navaho • W. B. Yeats • Antonio Machado • Rainer Maria Rilke • Wallace Stevens • D.H. Lawrence • Robinson Jeffers •
This refreshing collection is a sampler of mystical poetry from the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Muslim traditions. A chronological order--e.g., Bunan follows George Herbert--reinforces the theme of unity. Whitman writes, "In the faces of men and women I see God"; Kabir finds "Inside this jar the music of eternity"; Blake sees "a World in a Grain of Sand." Some delights: Mechtild of Magdeburg translated by poet Jane Hirschfield; Chuang-Tzu's "Cutting Up an Ox" translated by Thomas Merton; Rumi's "One half of the planet is grass./ The other half grazing." A disappointment: weak translations of the Psalms. Some poets professing no religion are included, leading one to reflect on the universal nature of "sacred" poetry as distinguished from more parochial "religious" verse.
(Kathleen Norris, Lemmon P.L., S.D.)