Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Sam Hamill: A Noble Truth



Falling in love is a failing.

From samudaya comes dukkha,

our perpetual suffering,

consequence of our own desire.

And who is it that does not long

for love, to love and be loved, to

share our ecstasies and sorrows

as days grow into months and years?


Under a bodhi tree, a buddha

clings to nothing: no love, no fear,

no longing. Not even Nirvana

distracts him. Alone with himself,

even the self is illusion.

His compassion is in seeing

clearly through the mists of our pain

as we fail, start, stop, fail again.


Falling in love is a falling,

a failing, and yet we choose it

faithfully, we make it a virtue,

a blessing, life’s noble reward.

Without love, our lives feel shrunken,

we starve for affection, a kiss,

a touch, a knowing glance that lifts

us from our knees and makes us dance.


No, we don’t hunger for Nirvana.

Give us the sins of flesh and bone

and let the heart’s fires rage. Falling,

we rise into the pure joy of

failing, biting Eve’s apple again,

shamed by our nakedness, passion

our cloak and our song, almost as though

nothing about it could be wrong.

Copyright 2016 Sam Hamill.

Sam Hamill is Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press and served as Editor there for thirty-two years. He taught in artist-in-residency programs in schools and prisons and worked with Domestic Violence programs. He directed the Port Townsend Writers Conference for nine years, and in 2003, founded Poets Against the War. He is the author of more than forty books, including celebrated translations from ancient Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Latin.

2 comments on “Sam Hamill: A Noble Truth

  1. Carole Brooks Platt
    September 2, 2016

    Superb insight!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jfrobb
    September 2, 2016

    Thank you for both this poem and your press. Needed gifts for this world.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on September 2, 2016 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , , .

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