Poems for Earth Caring

Index

by Ryokan

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.

Summer Day

By Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Wild Geese

By Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

 

Again and again, even though we know love’s landscape

By Rilke

Again and again, even though we know love’s landscape
and the little churchyard with its lamenting names
and the terrible reticent gorge in which the others
end: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees, lay ourselves down again and again
among the flowers, and look up into the sky.

The Peace of Wild Things

 by Wendell Berry from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Earth Touching

By Thich Nhat Hanh

Here is the foot of a tree.
Here is an empty, quiet place.
Here is a small sitting cushion.
Here is the cool green of the grass.

My child, why don’t you sit down?
Sit upright.
Sit with solidity.
Sit in peace.

Don’t let your thoughts lift you up into the air.
Sit so that you can really touch the Earth
and be one with her.

You may like to smile, my child.
Earth will transmit to you her solidity,
her peace, and her joy.

With your mindful breathing,
with your peaceful smile,
you sustain the mudra of Earth Touching.

There were times when you didn’t do well.
Sitting on the earth, it was as if you were floating in the air,
You who used to wander in the cycle of birth and death,
drifting and sinking in the ocean of misperceptions.

But Earth is always patient
and one-hearted.
Earth is still waiting for you
because Earth has been waiting for you
during the last trillion lives.
That is why she can wait for you for any length of time.
She will always welcome you,
always fresh and green, exactly like the first time,
because love never says, “This is the last”;
because Earth is a loving mother,
She will never stop waiting for you.

Do go back to her, my child.
You will be like that tree.
The leaves, the branches, and the flowers of your soul
will be fresh and green
once you enter the mudra of Earth Touching.
The empty path welcomes you, my child,
filled with grass and little flowers,
the path among the fragrant rice paddy
that you walked on, holding your mother’s hand,
is still impressed in your mind.

Walk leisurely, peacefully.
Your feet should deeply touch the earth.
Don’t let your thoughts lift you up into the air, my child.
Go back to the path every moment.
The path is your dearest friend.
She will transmit to you
her strength,
her peace.

Your diligent awareness of your breathing
will keep you in touch with the earth.
Walk as if you were kissing the earth with your feet,
as if you were massaging the earth.
The marks left by your feet
will be like the emperor’s seal
calling the Now to come back to the Here;
so that life will be present,
so that the blood will bring the color of love to your face,
so that the wonders of life will be manifested,
and all afflictions will be transformed into
peace and joy.

There were times when you did not succeed, my child.
Walking on the empty path, you were floating in the air,
because you used to get lost in samsara
and drawn into a world of illusion.
But the beautiful path is always patient.
It is always waiting for you to come back,
the path which is familiar to you,
the path which is so faithful.
It knows deeply that you will come back one day.
It will be joyful to welcome you back.
It will be as fresh and as beautiful as the first time.

Love never says, “This is the last.”
That path is you, my child.
That is why it will never be tired of waiting.
Whether it is covered now with red dust
or with autumn leaves
or icy snow—
do go back to the path, my child,
because I know
you will be like that tree,
the leaves, the trunk the branches,
and the blossoms of your soul
will be fresh and beautiful,
once you enter the mudra of Earth Touching.

–Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

from Call Me By My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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