Category Archives: Poetry

Role Model to Superheroes: the Father of Horace (and Horace)

The elder Horace, a freed slave, was able to spend considerable money on his son’s education: accompanying him first to Rome for his primary education, then sending him to Athens to study Greek and philosophy. The poet later expressed his gratitude in a tribute to his father:
If my character is flawed by a few minor faults, but is otherwise decent and moral, if you can point out only a few scattered blemishes on an otherwise immaculate surface, if no one can accuse me of greed, or of prurience, or of profligacy, if I live a virtuous life, free of defilement (pardon, for a moment, my self-praise), and if I am to my friends a good friend, my father deserves all the credit… As it is now, he deserves from me unstinting gratitude and praise. I could never be ashamed of such a father, nor do I feel any need, as many people do, to apologize for being a freedman’s son.  Satires 1.6.65–92

Project Gutenberg

The Latin Library

Role Model to Superheroes: Maya Angelou

Phenomenal Woman
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me. 

Role Model to Superheroes: Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

A Prayer for a Child is a hand-pulled serigraph on canvas, created from an original painting with an Arabic edition of 850. Each serigraph is accompanied by a copy of Seuss’s poem, “A Prayer for a Child.”

The December 23, 1955 issue of Collier’s Magazine devoted a full-color page to A Prayer for a Child, the only published piece in which Ted Geisel uncharacteristically breaks a self-imposed rule that his work not have religious connotations, which could alter their appeal for children of different faiths.

With that said, it is obvious that Ted Geisel cared deeply about the great issues of our age. His concerns were reflected time and again in the conceptual themes of his books. For example, Yertle the Turtle is about dictatorship and due process rights; The Sneetches, tolerance and discrimination; Horton Hears a Who!, individualism; How the Grinch Stole Christmas, holiday over-commercialization; and The Cat in the Hat, illiteracy and conformity.

The painting, A Prayer for a Child, stunning in its vibrant colors and captivating in its galactic point of view, has been painted from the perspective of one child’s small place in the universe. The prayer, spoken in first person on behalf of that child, makes the connection between their cozy home and the heavens.

From here on earth,
From my small place
I ask of You
Way out in space:
Please tell all men
In every land
What You and I
Both understand . . .
Please tell all men
That Peace is Good.
That’s all
That need be understood
In every world
In Your great sky.
(We understand.
Both You and I.)
(Thanks to the amazing Animazing Gallery for bringing this work to our attention.)

Role Model to Superheroes: Hafez (Khwāja Šamsu d-Dīn Muḥammad Hāfez-e Šīrāzī, Persian: خواجه شمس‌الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی)

You should come close to me tonight wayfarer
For I will be celebrating you.
Your beauty still causes me madness,
Keeps the neighbors complaining
When I start shouting in the middle of the night
Because I can’t bear all this joy.
I will be giving birth to suns.
I will be holding forests upside down
Gently shaking soft animals from trees and burrows
Into my lap.
What you conceive as imagination
Does not exist for me.
Whatever you can do in a dream 
Or on your mind-canvas
My hands can pull — alive — from my coat pocket.
But let’s not talk about my divine world,
For what I most want to know 
Tonight is:
All about 
“Imagination Does Not Exist,” by Hafez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
 published in a book titled, “The Gift” (Penguin Compass, 1999).


Great religions are the
Poets the life

Every sane person I know has jumped
That is good for business
Isn’t it


“The Great Religions,” modern renderings of Hafez’s sentiments by Daniel Ladinsky,
 published in a book titled, “The Gift” (Penguin Compass, 1999).

Described by Emerson as the “poet’s poet.” Translated by Goethe, adored by Thoreau. 

Although Hafez was not much acclaimed in his own day and often exposed to the reproaches of orthodoxy, he greatly influenced subsequent Persian poets and has become the most beloved poet of Persian culture. It is said that if there is one book in a house where Persian is spoken, it will be the Dīwān of Hāfez.

His collected works (Divan) are to be found in the homes of most Iranians, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, and have influenced post-Fourteenth Century Persian writing more than any other author.

Though Hāfez’s poetry is influenced by Islam, he is widely respected by Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and others. The Indian sage of Iranian descent Meher Baba, who syncretized elements of Sufism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Christian mysticism, recited Hāfez’s poetry until his dying day. October 12 is celebrated as Hafez Day in Iran.  

Do sad people have in 
It seems
They have all built a shrine
To the past
And often go there 
And do a strange wail and

What is the beginning of 

It is to stop being 
So religious


“Stop Being So Religious,” by Hafez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, published in a book titled, “The Gift” (Penguin Compass, 1999).

Role Model to Superheroes: Du Fu, Tang Dynasty Poet for the People (712–770 A.D.)

Ballad of the Army Carts

Wagons rattling, banging,
horses neighing, snorting,
draftees marching, bows arrows at hips,
fathers, mothers,
wives, children,
run to say goodbye —
kick up so much dust you can’t see Xian-yang Bridge!

Families pull at clothes,
feet stamp in anger!
Block the way — shrieking!
Despair raises tears to heaven, there is no need to pray

I walk alongside the column.  I ask, “What is happening??”

A soldier shrugs, “This happens all the time
from age fifteen they are sent to guard the North,
at forty they garrison the West
When leaving home the village elder wraps their turbans,
when returning home their hair is white

Frontiers flood with blood oceans
War loving emperors dream of conquests forever

Haven’t they head, in Han, east of the mountains,
there are two hundred prefectures, thousands upon thousands of villages
growing nothing but thorns?

Even where strong wives handle hoe and plough,
crops grow chaotically, fields are disasters

It’s harvers for men of Quin, they’re such good fighters
they’re driven from battle to battle like dogs, chickens

Even though you were kind enough to ask, sir,
perhaps I shouldn’t complain, as a soldier

Take this winter,
Shanxi troops were never sent home.
Their tax collectors are demanding land taxes though — land fees!
Where is that money supposed to come from?!?

A son is born to be killed

Have you seen the shores of Kokonor?
White bones lie in drifts, uncollected

New ghosts moan,
old ghosts cry

Under lowering clouds their voices scream in rain.

(Du Fu’s retirement cottage and writing room)
Du Fu, Mao, and Me
(native Chinese tourists who took this picture also got a laugh)

I’ll be friends!! Anonymous Secret Twitter Application


If you ever want to read the best in human writing open the prayer request book of a hospital chapel and expose yourself to the full human spirit.  Hospital prayer request books are filled with heart-wrenching pleadings and expressions of gratitude from all walks of life.  You’ll never read anything similar.  Souls desperate, broken, and thankful in ways we can never imagine write directly to God.

Read chapel prayer books in hospitals to jump in the deep end.  Do not think you can imagine what they say, go to a hospital and read one. Fact is definitely stranger than Fiction.

Occasionally I want to bug a church’s confessional. Still, though, that would be a preselected group, and, they wouldn’t necessarily be any more honest or forthcoming than humanity in other venues.  Thankfully the Anonymous Secret Twitter stream @SecretTweetis more efficient (…although there are dishonest posts with agendas, too). For me, most enlightening has been the number of people who are decent, and especially, are deeply truly in love with their soul-mates — contrary to the depiction of love by mainstream media.

“My 22nd birthday is next week. The only thing I wish for is a friend”

“Your smile and your presence is more powerful than you know.”

“Im agnostic but belong2church so I can sing in choir. It’s my only musical outlet n small town”

Power of Art: Think Different

“The Crazy Ones” 
(Original “Long version” appeared on posters made by Apple.
Apple folklore has it Steve Jobs was the author of the original piece.)

“ Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Full version
“ Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Short version
“ Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Role Model to Superheroes: Meerabai (Rajasthani: मीराबाई, Meera; Mira; Meera Bai)

Meerabai (Rajasthani: मीराबाई) (c.1498-c.1547AD) (Meera; Mira; Meera Bai) was a Hindu mystical singer and one of the most significant figures of the Sant tradition of the Vaishnava bhakti movement. Some 12-1300 prayerful songs or bhajans attributed to her are popular throughout India.
Meera’s devotion to Krishna led her to ecstatic dance in the streets of the city. Her brother-in-law, the new ruler of Chittorgarh, objected to Meera’s fame, her mixing with commoners, and supposed impropriety. There were several attempts to poison her.
She considered herself to be a reborn gopi, Lalita, mad with love for Krishna. Folklore informs us of a particular incident where she expressed her desire to engage in a discussion about spiritual matters with Rupa Goswami, a disciple of Chaitanya and one of the foremost saint of Vrindavan that time who, being a renunciate celibate, refused to meet a woman. Meera replied that the only true man (purusha) in this universe is lord Krishna. She continued her pilgrimage, “dancing from one village to another village, almost covering the whole north of India”. One story has her appearing in the company of Kabir in Kashi, once again causing affront to social mores. She spent her last years as a pilgrim in Dwarka, Gujarat.
The plums tasted
sweet to the unlettered desert-tribe girl-
but what manners! To chew into each!
She was ungainly, low-caste, ill mannered and dirty,
but the god took the fruit she’d been sucking.
Why? She knew how to love.
She might not distinquish
splendor from filth
but she’d tasted the nectar of passion.
Might not know any Veda,
but a chariot swept her away-
now she frolics in heaven, esctatically bound
to her god.
The Lord of Fallen Fools, says Mira,
will save anyone who can practice rapture like that-
I myself in a previous birth
was a cowherding girl
at Gokul.

We do not get a human life Just for the asking. 
Birth in a human body Is the reward for good deeds 
In former births. Life waxes and wanes imperceptibly, 
It does not stay long. The leaf that has once fallen 
Does not return to the branch. 
Behold the Ocean of Transmigration. 
With its swift, irresistible tide. 
O Lal Giridhara, O pilot of my soul, 
Swiftly conduct my barque to the further shore. 
Mira is the slave of Lal Giridhara. 
She says: Life lasts but a few days only.
Mine is Gopal, the Mountain-Holder; there is no one else. 
On his head he wears the peacock-crown: He alone is my husband. 
Father, mother, brother, relative: I have none to call my own. 
I’ve forsaken both God, and the family’s honor: 
what should I do? I’ve sat near the holy ones,
and I’ve lost shame before the people. 
I’ve torn my scarf into shreds; I’m all wrapped up in a blanket. 
I took off my finery of pearls and coral, 
and strung a garland of wildwood flowers. 
With my tears, I watered the creeper of love that I planted; 
Now the creeper has grown spread all over, 
and borne the fruit of bliss. The churner of the milk churned with great love. 
When I took out the butter, no need to drink any buttermilk. 
I came for the sake of love-devotion; seeing the world, I wept. 
Mira is the maidservant of the Mountain-Holder: 
Now with love He takes me across to the further shore.

Role Model to Superheroes: Seo Jeong-ju ( 서정주 ), Korean Poet

Seo Jeong-ju (May 18, 1915 – December 24, 2000) was a Korean poet who wrote under the pen name Midang (“not yet fully grown”). He is widely considered the best poet in twentieth-century Korean literature. He was nominated five times for Nobel Prize in literature and published 15 books of poetry consisting of around 1,000 poems. After his death the South Korean Government officially presented him with the Gold Order.
On seeing Mudung Mountain
Poverty? Mere tattered clothing, no more!
How can that conceal our natural flesh, our natural mind?
Those are like mountains in summer, that stand
exposing their dark green ridges under a dazzling sun.
All we can do is raise our children
as the green hills raise orchids in their shady laps.
When the afternoon lengthens
and declining life ebbs drop by drop away,
you husbands and wives
must sometimes sit
and sometimes rather lie side by side.
Then the wife should gaze into her husband’s eyes,
the husband lay a hand on his wife’s brow.
Though we lie among thorns or in wormwood ditches,
we should always think we’re like jewels, buried alone
and at least gather moss thick over us.
Fresh green
What ever shall I do?
Ah, I’ve fallen in love.
In secret, all alone, I’ve fallen in love!
Everywhere petals are falling;
new verdure is sprouting again
around me on every side.
Writhing in utter grief,
red petals drop and fall;
fluttering fluttering dropping, they fall
like the breath of an ancient Silla girl,
like the hair of an ancient Silla girl,
in the wind in the meadows they drop and fall.
Again this year they scatter before me,
trembling brrr they scatter. . .
Ah, I’ve fallen in love.
I cannot sing like the warbler’s cry
all alone I’ve fallen in wonderful love