Friday, January 3, 2014

Poetry, Time, and a New Year

Emanation III, oil on canvas, 29 x 22 inches,  © Diane McGregor

What we look for beyond seeing
And call the unseen,
Listen for beyond hearing
And call the unheard,
Grasp for beyond reaching
And call the withheld,
Merge beyond understanding
In a oneness
Which does not merely rise and give light,
Does not merely set and leave darkness,
But forever sends forth a succession of living things as mysterious
As the unbegotten existence to which they return.
That is why men have called them empty phenomena,
Meaningless images,
In a mirage
With no face to meet,
No back to follow.
Yet one who is anciently aware of existence
Is a master of every moment,
Feels no break since time beyond time
In the way life flows.

                ~ Lao Tzu, Number 14, Tao Te Ching (translated by Witter Bynner)

I enjoy collecting different translations of the Tao Te Ching.  I am always interested in how various scholars reveal the hidden gems in this widely published classic. I recently came across this translation by Witter Bynner, and I loved it.  I was surprised to learn that he was a Santa Fe poet.  He was famous for hosting large parties attended by artistic and literary celebrities such as D.H. Lawrence, Willa Cather, Ansel Adams, Georgia O'Keeffe, Robert Frost, Aldous Huxley, and W.H. Auden, among many others.  His historic home is now open to the public as a bed and breakfast inn located in downtown Santa Fe.

Wishing all of my readers a transformative 2014!