Now Stephen Batchelor, himself a former monk, has newly translated "Verses from the Center." The translation is accompanied by an engaging essay analyzing the significance of the poem in the development of Buddhist teachings. Batchelor's goal throughout was to treat Nagarjuna's book primarily as a poem, rather than a work of philosophy. There may have been some shortcomings to this approach. At times the translation seems a bit too much like modern blank verse, and one wonders just what important elements of the original are simply lost; Batchelor claims that his "Nagarjunian voice" was influenced by writers "as diverse as John Keats, T.S. Eliot and John Lennon." Still, there are many passages of stunning loveliness in "Verses from the Center." Readers interested in Buddhism will certainly find much of interest here, in the poetry itself, the historical information, and in Batchelor's engaging exegesis.
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