A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
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.