“There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white…”
Hello dVersifiers – here we are in the month of Advent and today, December 8th, is Bhodi day, celebrating that moment when Siddhartha Gautama achieved awakening/enlightenment (bhodi) through meditation/prayer and became the Buddha. And yet Wordsworth’s words seem more than ever to apply:
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
A major distractor these days is politics which, with Covid-19, has become increasingly personal and intrusive in our day to day lives. Moreover, the enlightened notion of ‘awakening’ has been somewhat bastardised within the current ideology of ‘wokeness’ as with it we are more divisive, more intolerant, more consumed by worldly things. So, let us step off the sidewalk for a while and look to the poets whose thoughts turn to the mystical/spiritual. I like how C.S. Lewis is answering the question he poses in ‘An Expostulation’
“…Why should I leave this green-floored cell,
Roofed with blue air, in which we dwell,
Unless, outside its guarded gates,
Long, long desired, the Unearthly waits
Strangeness that moves us more than fear,
Beauty that stabs with tingling spear,
Or Wonder, laying on one’s heart
That finger-tip at which we start
As if some thought too swift and shy
For reason’s grasp had just gone by?”
And the Chinese hermit seems to answer him in Han Shan’s poetry & Thoughts:
“Put a fish on land and he will remember the ocean until he dies.
Put a bird in a cage, yet he will not forget the sky.
Each remains homesick for his true home,
the place where his nature has decreed that he should be.
Man is born in the state of innocence.
His original nature is love and grace and purity.
Yet he emigrates so casually without even a thought of his old home.
Is this not sadder than the fishes and the birds?”
Glimpsing and forgetting are embodied in R.S. Thomas’ The Bright Field
“I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.”
Solitude, peacefulness, beauty in the nature, are invariable the touchstones for that glimpse of something other. But it is that grit in our oyster shell that makes us turn away, search, hanker, and were it not for our capacity to daydream we might never even begin to fathom, like Din-Attar
“Lost in myself
I know not where
a drop that rose
from the sea and fell
and dissolved again;
that stretched itself out
when the sun
For this Poetics challenge, let your imagination become a springboard to the mystical/sacred just as Mary Oliver describes in ‘Praying’.
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”
Here are 8 fragments from the mystic poets as prompt. Choose ONE, include the words in your poem or title if you wish, or write it as an Epigraph at the start of your poem and always cite the author too.
- Our hearts irrigate the earth. We are fields before each other (Thomas Aquinas)
- Coming, going, the waterbirds don’t leave a trace (Dogen)
- Why should not the water find delight in the floral fragrance of its own rippled surface? (Jnanadev)
- To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night (Gibran)
- Like a ruby held up to the sunrise. Is it still a stone, or a world made of redness? (Rumi)
- My heart was split, and a flower appeared (Solomon)
- The mountain path leads skyward and dissolves into light (Tukaram)
- Ask no questions of the moth in the candle flame (Attar)
For those of you who like the extra challenge of poetry forms try one of these 8 line Octave forms
Once you have published your poem, add it to the Linky widget and leave a comment (see below). Then go visiting, reading and sharing your thoughts with other contributors which is half the fun of our dVerse gatherings.