“These are the paths to enlightenment. Those who arrive at their destination teach those who are still on the path, while those still on the path are sources of wisdom for their teachers.” See Tao Te Ching – A New Translation & Commentary by Ralph Alan Dale (c) 2002, p.55
And here’s a provocative poem from “the Bard of the Yukon“:
My Guardian Angel by Robert William Service
When looking back I dimly see The trails my feet have trod, Some hand divine, it seems to me, Has pulled the strings with God; Some angel form has lifeward leaned When hope for me was past; Some love sublime has intervened To save me at the last.
For look you! I was born a fool, Damnation was my fate; My lot to drivel and to drool, Egregious and frutrate. But in the deep of my despair, When dark my doom was writ, Some saving hand was always there to pull me from the Pit.
A Guardian Angel – how absurd! I scoff at Power Divine. And yet . . . a someone spoke the word That willed me from the swine. And yet, despite my scorn of prayer, My lack of love or friend, I know a Presence will be there, To save me at the end.
Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, more popularly known simply as Rumi, was born on this day in 1207 in present-day Afghanistan. He later died on December 17, 1273 in present-day Turkey. He was a 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi Mystic. Rumi’s influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and he has been described as the “most popular poet” and the “best selling poet” in the United States. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumi)
Rumi was a firm believer in the use of music, poetry, and dance as a means of approaching God. His poetry is divided into common themes: mystical, passion, and life and death. Madonna and Philip Glass are among his many admirers: Madonna recorded readings of Rumi’s poetry, and Glass’s “Monsters of Grace” is based on Rumi’s art. (See https://nationaltoday.com/rumi-day/)
Rumi’s poetry speaks of love which infuses the world. Rumi’s longing and desire to attain the ideal of Love is evident in this excerpt from his book the Masnavi:
“I died to the mineral state and became a plant.
I died to the vegetal state and reached animality.
I died to the animal state and became a man,
Then what should I fear? I have never become less from dying.”
There is an annual Japanese holiday which remembers deceased ancestors. The actual date varies by region but usually falls between mid-July to mid-August. It is not an official holiday, rather a religious and traditional holiday which includes using lanterns to guide the dead, making food offerings to temples and celebrating with dancing. See https://www.jrailpass.com/blog/obon-festival-in-japan
Here is today’s humble haiku which recognizes this holiday, past and future, yet also celebrates the life still happening on this side of existence.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Thomas Stearns (T. S.) Eliot moved to England at the age of 25 and became an English citizen at 39 thus renouncing his American citizenship.
“During an interview in 1959, Eliot said of his nationality and its role in his work: ‘I’d say that my poetry has obviously more in common with my distinguished contemporaries in America than with anything written in my generation in England. That I’m sure of. … It wouldn’t be what it is, and I imagine it wouldn’t be so good; putting it as modestly as I can, it wouldn’t be what it is if I’d been born in England, and it wouldn’t be what it is if I’d stayed in America. It’s a combination of things. But in its sources, in its emotional springs, it comes from America.'” (See Hall, Donald (Spring–Summer 1959). “The Art of Poetry No. 1” (PDF). The Paris Review. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2009.)
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Nobel_Prize_in_Literature), Eliot was known as one of the most famous and influential poets of the last century. Among many others, he is credited for his influence on Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Bob Dylan and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Note the musical Cats is based on Eliot’s book of poetry Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939) and the movie Tom and Viv recounts his life with his first wife. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._S._Eliot)
His most famous poems include The Waste Land, Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets. However, my current favorite of his is Journey of the Magi which is a short 43-line poem. This poem recounts the original trip to the Bethlehem manger and it’s last 8 lines are:
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death.
Family lore suggested my first great grandfather Cole had emigrated from Ireland to Canada. After a personal genealogy study, I surprisingly discovered three great grandfathers had been born in Canada, their five predecessors came from New York before my oldest known six great grandfathers were born in Holland. So far, the oldest records go back to 1450.
Yesterday was Ancestors’ Day in Cambodia which is a far distance from North America or Europe but why quibble. I’m choosing to recognize my ancestors today because my eighth great-grandfather, Jacob, was born on 9/25/1639 in New Amsterdam. Note: New Amsterdam was founded by the Dutch in 1624 and was renamed New York by the English in 1664. My grandfather would have been 25-years old when New York was established. He went on to live another 55 years and died at the age of 80 in 1719.
“Ernest Lawrence Thayer was an American writer and poet who wrote the poem “Casey” (or “Casey at the Bat”), which is “the single most famous baseball poem ever written” according to the Baseball Almanac, and “the nation’s best-known piece of comic verse—a ballad that began a native legend as colorful and permanent as that of Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan.” https://www.poetry.com/poem/12844/casey-at-the-bat
Final stanza of Casey at the Bat:
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright; The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light, And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout; But there is no joy in Mudville–great Casey has struck out.