A Poetic Illumination at the Start of a New Year

POETRY FORMAT, 9 January 2017

Richard Falk | Global Justice in the 21st Century – TRANSCEND Media Service

1 Jan 2017 – At the dawn of the new year, while the bitter embers of the departing year glow in the dark, it is the mysterious outreach of poetry, more than the sobering reflections of the Enlightenment mind, that best touches the raw nerves of the many disturbing realities that menace the human future. In this spirit I came across a few lines of the Zen poetry of the late eighteen century Zen poet, Ryōkan. For those with an interest in further exploration of Ryōkan’s meditative sensibility I suggest One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryōkan, with superb translations by John Stevens, published by Weatherhill (Boston)  in a third edition, 2006.

A verse from ‘The Long Winter Night: Three Poems’:

Another year lingers to an end;
Heaven sends a bitter frost
Fallen leaves cover the mountains
And there are no travelers to cast shadows on the path.
Endless night: dried leaves burn slowly in the hearth.
Occasionally, the sound of freezing rain.
Dizzy, I try to recall the past—
Nothing here but dreams.

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Richard Falk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, an international relations scholar, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, author, co-author or editor of 40 books, and a speaker and activist on world affairs. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies, and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is Achieving Human Rights (2009).

Go to Original – richardfalk.wordpress.com

 

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One Response to “A Poetic Illumination at the Start of a New Year”

  1. Gary Corseri says:

    When a sensible and sensitive author can introduce his own, or another’s, poetry, so as to “frame” the poetry–to highlight its qualities of sound or imagery, or to self-reflect on its personal meaning and resonance–that presenter has done a great service for those less willing or able to delve through the rich layers of a poem. Mr. Falk’s thoughtful snapshot-intro here perfectly captures “the mysterious outreach of poetry,” and touches “the raw nerves of the many disturbing realities”–just as Ryokan’s poem (rendered beautifully, poignantly in John Stevens’ translation). One feels the “bitter frost” of a year lost, and in 8 lines one is transported into a world of “nothing…but dreams.”