to the small poem and the quiet voice within

nhat hanh | four small poems

Empty Path

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa“A single leaf, blown from a lakka-tree,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawhispers autumn through the world.”
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaSung Yü (Chou Dynasty)

In the shiver
of cold dew
the lake’s mirror ripples
On the untrodden grass
your footprints leave their mark
in the cold dawn
Not one lakka leaf has fallen here
yet after a barbaric cycle
the warm soul of autumn has returned
The skiff sails back to the old wharf
carrying moonlight in its hood

Drops of Nothingness

My heart is cooled
by drops of nothingness
Suddenly I see
my boat has crossed the river
and already reached the other shore!
Soft sand, empty beach
aaaaaaold promises…

For Warmth

I hold my face between my hands
aaaaaano I am not crying
I hold my face between my hands
aaato keep my loneliness warm
aaaaaatwo hands protecting
aaaaaatwo hands nourishing
aaaaaatwo hands to prevent
my soul from leaving me
aaaaaaaaaain anger


In the past going away
In the future coming back
aaaaaaaaaaTime’s journeys
These black ink strokes
This white piece of paper
aaaaaaaaaaFootprints in the sand
aaaaaaaaaaCloud-sculptures in the sky
aaaaaais departure

from ZEN POEMS, panel-art, Vo-Dinh, translated by Teo Savory, Poems by Nhat Hanh, Unicorn Press, 1976, l979, limited edition, 250 copies

1 Comment

  1. Rose Vitola

    I lived 10 years in Japan. Now is this page wabi or sabi? 😉

    It’s wonderful.

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