Gentle Spring rain
which one am I hearing?
Small birds chirping
too young to fly.
The cat observes them
from the window.
I like to think he just wants to play.
the clouds shape-shift
and the rain leaves.
New fragrances arrive
as old as the earth.
and write nothing.
Note: There some 50 different ways to name “rain” (雨 – ame) in Japanese. And just for Spring, one can use “Spring rain” (春霖 – shun rin) or “gentle Spring rain” (春雨 – shun u). I was inspired by the latter for this poem.
If I may, I share here one passage from the “Tao Te Ching,” a book I actually read every morning. I read this passage to my nine year old son today, after we had a discussion on patience and reaching compromises with people who may not want to do so. I thought it offered three pieces of advice, which applicability is apt for most situations in life. Thank you.
“Some say my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.
I just have three things to teach:
simplicity, patience and compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both your friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings of the world.”
– Poem 67 of the “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu (VIth. c. BCE), translated by Stephen Mitchell (1999).
The traditional New Year celebration is not really my cup of tea, a change of number barely gets my attention. New Year’s eve is just like any other night, a bit of music, a bit of poetry and quiet dreams of infinity.
For me, it is Navroz that brings on the festivity; when Spring gently knocks at the door baring the gift of light, illuminating the house and encouraging me to clean it meticulously.
I prefer the swallows’ early morning songs, to the loud and hollow conversation of revellers; and the quiet opening of the hyacinth, to the commotion of fireworks.
Instead of the display of caviar, champagne and glitter; I would rather feel the blessings of the haft seen, the seven items of the altar: the lentil sprouts, the garlic, the apple, the vinegar, the fish, the mirror and of course, the book of Hafez’s poetry.
On that day, you are cordially invited to our house to sit under the cherry blossoms and listen to the gentle conversation of the violet, the pansy and the tulip. Believe me, they always have a lot of interesting things to say if you listen carefully.
Please come and come early, so that together we may dance amidst particles of light and smile at Hafez’s witty and eternal poetry.
Photos: Courtyard in Isfahan, Iran; and swallows in El Charco Botanical Garden, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.