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Are you a Poet, too?

Updated on February 24, 2008

Poetry for all occasions

Poetry is the vehicle that lets us jump from the mundane to the sublime in a very short time. The use of words to form quick, symbolic expressions is one of the oldest forms of art. Not all of us will write a book, but most all have written some form of poetry, whether it be a silly rhyme or mysterious koan.

Do you have a favorite poet? Perhaps that is Walt Whitman, or the sonnets of Shakespeare, or maybe Dylan Thomas or Bob Dylan!

I remember reading Whitman in college and soaking in each and every word, emotion and revelation. When I read his lines from "Song of Myself"

-- Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) --

I rejoiced at the thought that I, too, could be contradictory. I thought it was some kind of sin until Whitman showed me it was alright. His ability to express the concept of Universal Man in the past, present and future was totally captivating. I never tire of his lengthy forays into the human condition.

Sitting here thinking about all the great poets throughout time is quite overwhelming. The Zen Koan and Japanese Haiku are examples of poetry that is meant to shake us up, interrupt our normal reasoning patterns, give us a glimpse into the true nature of reality. Or, they can simply "BE." Lines so direct and pure we stop to soak them in. Examples:

Fragrant, the valley's single plum flower.

There's no cool spot in a cauldron of boiling water.

White clouds hold lonely rocks in their embrace.

These are from a book entitled "The Zen Koan" by Isshu Miura and Ruth Fuller Sasaki. There are hundreds of examples in one to multiple line poems. If you haven't ever explored the world of the Zen Koan, you might want to start.

Haiku is another favorite form. the 5 - 7 - 5 syllable pattern seems to touch a deep chord within us.

-- Haiku is one of the most important forms of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Since early days, there has been confusion between the three related terms Haiku, Hokku and Haikai. The term hokku literally means "starting verse", and was the first starting link of a much longer chain of verses known as haika. Because the hokku set the tone for the rest of the poetic chain, it enjoyed a privileged position in haikai poetry, and it was not uncommon for a poet to compose a hokku by itself without following up with the rest of the chain.

Largely through the efforts of Masaoka Shiki, this independence was formally established in the 1890s through the creation of the term haiku. This new form of poetry was to be written, read and understood as an independent poem, complete in itself, rather than part of a longer chain. --

How about a Haiku of the Day? Well, you can go to and get your fix. Today's Haiku:

Long after the wind

pines along the mountain hold

the shape of the wind

Temple Cone

Or, it's easy to make up your own. Here's mine:

The white clouds high in the sky

Deer walk by slowly

Gusting winds bring constant thoughts

Writing poetry is a form of meditation which eases stress and creates harmony in our bodies and minds. I recommend it for everyone.


White Clouds
White Clouds


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