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Poetry and the Spiritual


“God is the perfect poet.”
Robert Browning

Religion, worship, and poetry

Psalm 117 – English Text

Psalm 117 – Sung in Hebrew

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
   extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
   and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever…

The Psalms


The Qu’ran

The Three Refuges

* Buddham saranam gacchāmi

I seek refuge in the Buddha.

* Dhammam saranam gacchāmi

I seek refuge in the Dharma.

* Sangham saranam gacchāmi

I seek refuge in the Sangha

Buddhist chanting

I am the angel of reality,

seen for a moment standing in the door.

I am the necessary angel of earth,

Since, in my sight, you see the earth again,

Cleared of its stiff and stubborn, man-locked set,

And, in my hearing, you hear its tragic drone

Rise liquidly in liquid lingerings,

Like watery words awash;

an apparition appareled in

Apparels of such lightest look that a turn

Of my shoulder and quickly, too quickly, I am gone?

Wallace Stevens

Poetry of Wallace Stevens


Translation from the French (Excerpt)

Symbolist Poetry
Arthur Rimbaud


April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar kine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

Symbolist Poetry
T.S. Eliot




My life is not this vertical hour
in which you find me in such haste
I am a tree in front of my own background
I am only but one of my many mouths
and the one which is the first to close
I am the silence between two sounds
that only with difficulty grow used to one another
for the tone of death also wishes to be heard
but in the darkness of the interval
they make peace with one another, trembling
and the song remains beautiful

Oracular Poetry
Rainier Maria Rilke


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light…

Existential Poetry
Dylan Thomas



What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking
at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at
night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
–and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?
What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you,
and followed in my imagination by the store detective…

Existential Poetry
Alan Ginsberg



I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Existential Poetry
(African American)
Langston Hughes



We real cool. We

Left school. We

Lurk late. We

Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We

Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We

Die soon.


Existential Poetry
(African American)
Gwendolyn Brooks


Poems: Excerpts

Archival Reading of Stevens Poetry

Conceptual Poetry
Wallace Stevens

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