I read a lot of interesting poetry today looking for the poem I’d like to talk about. I read about St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) who despite being tortured for his beliefs wrote about “the essence of all desire:/to hold beauty in/ my soul’s/ arms.”
The poem I decided on though, is by Tukaram (1608-1649) of Dehu, India. He lost his parents at thirteen and his first wife and children in a famine, which changed his outlook on life considerably. As he became increasingly religious the support of his second wife and family depended more and more on the largess of his followers.
Birds don’t brag about flying the way we do.
They don’t write books about it and then give workshops,
They don’t take on disciples and spoil their own air time.
Who could dance and achieve lift-off with a bunch of wackos tugging on you?
Not surprisingly, he eventually walked away alone and was never seen again.
He also wrote this, which I like even better:
If God would stop telling jokes/I might act serious.
I find it inspiring that many people who have suffered more than most have a strong sense of humor as well. Or perhaps it is that humor that allowed them to survive to share their words with us when others perished.