Category: Poetry

“Please Call Me by My True Names” by Thích Nhất Hạnh

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow—
even today I am still arriving.

 

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

 

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

 

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

 

I am a mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.

 

And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

 

I am a frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

 

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin a bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

 

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.

 

And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

 

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his “debt of blood” to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

 

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

 

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

 

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and the door of my heart
could be left open,
the door of compassion.

Originally published in Earthlight Magazine

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

“I Am The Great Sun” with Charles Causely

I am the great sun, but you do not see me,

I am your husband, but you turn away.

I am the captive, but you do not free me,

I am the captain but you will not obey.

I am the truth, but you will not believe me,

I am the city where you will not stay.

I am your wife, your child, but you will leave me,

I am that God to whom you will not pray.

I am your counsel, but you will not hear me,

I am your lover whom you will betray.

I am the victor, but you do not cheer me,

I am the holy dove whom you will slay.

I am your life, but if you will not name me,

Seal up your soul with tears, and never blame me.

From a Normandy crucifix of 1632