Poems Related to the Dharma

The Way to Peace

by Swami Sivananda

If anyone speaks ill of you,
Praise him always.

If anyone injures you,
Serve him nicely.

If anyone persecutes you,
Help him in all possible ways.

You will attain immense strength.

You will control anger and pride.

You will enjoy peace, poise and serenity.

You will become divine.

You are Christ’s Hands

by Saint Theresa of Avila

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours, no feet but yours,

Yours are the eyes through which is to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world;

Yours are the feet with which he is
to go about doing good;

Yours are the hands with which he is
to bless us now.

(translated from the Spanish by James Wehlage)

The Island

from the Sutta Nipata (first century B.C.E.)

For those struggling in midstream,
              in great fear of the flood,
              of growing old and of dying—
for all those I say, an island exists
              where there is no place for impediments,
              no place for clinging:
the island of no going beyond.

I call it nirvana,
              the complete destruction
              of old age and dying.

(translated from the Pali by Stephen H. Ruppenthal)

Music of the Spheres

by Jean Follain

He was walking a frozen road
in his pocket iron keys were jingling
and with his pointed show absent-mindedly
he kicked the cylinder
of an old can
which for a few seconds rolled its cold emptiness
wobbled for a while and stopped
under a sky studded with stars.

(translated from the French by Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Haas)

The Sea and the Man

by Anna Swir

You will not tame this sea
either by humility or rapture.
But you can laugh in its face.

was invented by those
who live briefly
as a burst of laughter.

The eternal sea
will never learn to laugh.

(translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Haas)