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Dharma Poetry: Jane Hirshfield

posted by Paul Griffin

A few weeks ago I blogged about Tyler Doherty, a fine contemporary Buddhist poet, and Gary Gach of Tricycle Magazine posted a comment.  I looked Gary up and found out that he hosts a lively Haiku Corner blog at Tricycle’s website.  I also discovered that Gary edited a very cool book of Buddhist poetry called What Book!?: Buddha Poems From Beat To Hip-hop.  This link is to a preview of nearly half of the book on Google Books.  It’s worth an e-trip!

So I spent the week browsing this collection of Buddhist poetry.  There are many strains of the view in here, but also gorgeous love poems.  Fanciful histories of the Buddha’s life, but also protest poems about Vietnam, including a particularly stunning one by Yusef Komunyakaa.  There are the usual players here–Ginsberg, Snyder, Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, etc.–but also works by Fluxus poet Yoko Ono and the Polish Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz.  Some of my favorite poems are by “Anonymous Buddhist Nuns.”
For my post, I’ve chosen to share a poem sans commentary by a Jane Hirshfield called The Adamantine Perfection of Desire, an at once very Buddhist and not very Buddhist sounding title!

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.


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Comments read comments(5)
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Anna E. Maus

posted September 26, 2009 at 8:25 pm


good stuff.



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accessoires pda

posted October 1, 2009 at 6:42 am


Hi,
A definite great read…
accessoires pda



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Jerry Bolick

posted October 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm


right on, right on Jane H always delivers



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Rochelle Hale

posted June 14, 2010 at 8:25 am


If I had a buck for each time I came to blog.beliefnet.com.. Incredible post!



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john

posted March 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm


fantastic poem,i love it.its nice work you have done.i m gonna bookmarking it.



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