PUIs- 20th century poets under the influence

[green_message] Hymnus Ad Patrem Sinensis
Philip Whalen

I praise those ancient Chinamen
Who left me a few words,
Usually a pointless joke or a silly question
A line of poetry drunkenly scrawled on the
margin of a quick splashed picture –
bug, leaf, caricature of Teacher
on paper held together now by little more
than ink & their own strength brushed
momentarily over it
Their world & several others since
Gone to hell in a handbasket, they knew it –
Cheered as it whizzed by –
& conked out among the busted spring rain
Cherryblossom winejars
Happy to have saved us all.

Complaint: To the Muse
Philip Whalen

You do understand I’ve waited long enough
There’s nobody else that interests me more than a minute
I’ve got no more ambition to shop around for poems or love
Come Back!
or at least answer your telephone
I’m nowhere without you

This is the greatest possible drag
Slower than the speed of light or always
A little less than critical mass

The energy the steam the poop is here
Everything is (by Nature) Energy, I myself
A natural thing & certainly massive enough

A block of lead (the end of all radiation)
I don’t even reflect much daylight, not to speak of
glowing in the dark
I’ll never get it off the ground

Poems from Hut Poems
Jonathan Greene


How we become dust –

Some beetles dead
on the walls of my hut.

A Buddha full lotus
in a cave.

Ignorant dust,
Enlightened dust?

The earth accepts both
without judgment.


At my hut
poems must be waiting for me

and my other being –
ghost to my normal busybody self –

sitting calmly there
siphoning songs from the still air.


There is one bent nail
hammered flush into
the door’s molding –

speaks volumes,
the frustrations (that day)
of one carpenter.


Hiking this steep hill in snow,
of course a kinship
hearing the trees creak & moan
in the wind.

Czeslaw Milosz

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.

an instance of being
Pell Tanner

my one
at once
from ten thousand things
any time
any where

pears grow heavy
queen anne’ white lace
Grows tall
trails of fire
into headlights

mist lifted dawn
Pell Tanner

deer play
in the field
of the full moon
white tails
sail into the forests
of silver mist
lifted with a winter dawn
in a way
just the same
as you imagine

zen pie
Pell Tanner

in the past
i have dreamed the future
but I never know
what to believe
the truth I an ever after
Seemingly just out of reach
let me say
that’s all right with me

The House is Soft
Ursala Le Guin

The house is soft, softly carpentered,
Even the nails are yieding, semi-transparent.
People come in one by one
And live there a while, quiely feasting,
And leave by the door they entered.
They leave the house forever but not empty;
The passages of the house remember,
The windows look not only out
But inward to the tender rooms.

Ursala Le Guin

Imagine dark.
Forty years’ rain.
The sinking ark.

No dogs bark
Or doves complain
In the long dark.

No eel or shark
noses in vain
the ribs of the ark.

No star, no spark.
No full or wane.
Silence and dark.

Without mark,
without stain,
bright, stark,

the ocean’s arc
is bare again
above the dark.
The sunken ark.

Your Heart is Fine
Joanne Kyger

       Your heart is fine   feeling the widest
possible empathy for the day and its inhabitants

Thanks for looking at the wind
In the top of the eucalyptus
dancing like someone you know
well   ‘I’m here  I’m here  I’m here’

    The wind picks up
a rush of leaves waving

     wildly for your understanding
– apple, plum, bamboo
rooted and flourishing
next to your home
In the air   awake

     without defect


Thomas Merton

I am about to make my home
In the bell’s summit
Set my mind a thousand feet high
On the ace of songs
In a mood of needles and random lights
To purify
The quick magnetic sodas of the skin

I will call the deep protectors out of the ground
The givers of wine
The writers of peace and waste
And sundown riddles

The threat of winter gleams in gray-haired windows
And witty mirrors
And fear lies over the sea

But birds fly uncorrected across burnt lands
The surest home is pointless:
We learn by the cables of orioles

I am about to build my nest
In the misdirected and unpaid express
As I walk away from this poem

Hiding the ace of freedoms


The Shih Ching , usually translated as either The Book of Songs or the Classic of Poetry, is the first great collection of Chinese poetry. Tradition says that it was edited into its present form by the Sage of Sages, Confucius himself. In fact the book was assembled before, during, and after the life of Confucius. Its more than three hundred poems include fragments of works as old as the Shang Dynasty (traditional; dates 1766-1154 BCE) as well as “contemporary” poems from the Chou feudal states written or spoken by both aristocratic court figures and just plain “folks”. A great deal has been said about the origin of many, if not the majority of the poems as oral “folk” art, but it is clear from the artistry of the written language in which they have been handed down that, like the scribes who improved upon the originally oral poetry attributed to “Homer” in the West to create the Iliad and the Odyssey, the people who converted Chou folk songs and court verses into poetry in written Chinese characters clearly thought of themselves as (and were) artists. So the characters used to render simple and direct lyrical utterances of the illiterate peasant folk often honor them with carefully chosen written vocabulary: the heart and soul of folk art remains clearly present, but literary subtleties are introduced. The scribes who created the Shih Ching were poets, not tape recorders. They chose the best of what existed, and they honored it with their own art.

In its present form, the Shih Ching consists of three major sections, the Kuo Feng, or Odes of the States, comprising 160 of the 300 are generally but not always folk songs. The Ya (Elegant Verses) subdivided with no obvious criteria into greater and lesser, include poems 161-265, and the Sung or Temple Odes high ritual songs and bits of dynastic myth, include poems 266-305. The present selection is comes, all but a single longer poem on drinking and its positive and negative consequences from the “Lesser Elegants”, all come from the Kuo Feng Sections.

Knowledge of the Shih Ching poems was a necessity of diplomatic practice around the time of Confucius, when it was a common practice to deliver or at least support the delivery of diplomatic messages among the feudal domains (the “States or Guo of the Guo Feng) by oral presentation of relevant lines from the Classic. From the Han on many of the poems where imbued with very specific allegorical interpretations, but it is clear that later poets, who memorized the book word for word, used it as allusive material in their own poems at least as often for its plain “folk” messages as for its orthodoxly approved allegorical ones.