Kathy, my dear friend and cheer squad member – and poetry lover – told me on Friday that Mary Oliver, that fine US poet, has died. She writes (or wrote) moving and beautiful poetry, often about nature, and her work was loved by many people over many years. Her poem Wild Geese has consoled numerous of my clients, and me, over the years and there are heaps more. One that Kathy introduced me to is The Buddha’s Last Instruction, which I have had in mind this morning with the dawn (got up early – only just early enough in the end – so that I could take the picture above).
I had better luck a few days ago with a sunset. The light at either end of the day is similarly gorgeous whenever we come upon it. Let us all be bathed and aglow with it, alive to poetry and beauty, and with our lives shining a bit. Here is the the poem and the (sunset) photos:
THE BUDDHA’S LAST INSTRUCTION
“Make of yourself a light”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal-a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire-
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.