Poems on Passings and Partings
When you die
God and the angels
will hold you accountable
for all the pleasures
you were allowed in life
that you denied yourself.
Only the ephemeral is of lasting value. — Ionesco
Poems on Passing
I died from minerality and became vegetable;
And from vegetativeness I died and became animal.
I died from animality and became man.
Then why fear disappearance through death?
Next time I shall die
Bringing forth wings and feathers like angels;
After that, soaring higher than angels -
What you cannot imagine,
I shall be that.
— Dhammapada, 23, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Please note that these poems are reproduced without permission and are intended purely to share my pleasure in the following pages of poetry with my small group of interested friends. The words are so delicious and sensuous and smart and playful to this Granny, who grew up in the freezing gray world of Minnesota's rural prairie during the war. Why wouldn't we spend all our money on books of poetry?
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When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
During his last moment, Shisui's followers requested that he write a death poem. He grasped his brush, painted a circle, cast the brush aside, and died.
The circle is one of the most important symbols of Zen Buddhism.
It indicates void -- the essence of all things -- and enlightenment.
— Shinsui, died September 9, 1769, at 49