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Sacred Poetry from Around the World

Please Call Me by My True Names

by Thich Nhat Hanh

Original Language English

Don't say that I will depart tomorrow --
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his "debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

-- from Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh, by Thich Nhat Hanh
<Poetry Chaikhana | Thich Nhat Hanh - Please Call Me by My True Names

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2016 05:44 am (UTC)
Dec. 12th, 2016 04:23 am (UTC)
It is!
Dec. 6th, 2016 11:10 pm (UTC)
I love this poem--so glad you reminded me of it.
Dec. 12th, 2016 04:25 am (UTC)
Dec. 7th, 2016 04:37 pm (UTC)
Don't say that I will depart tomorrow --
even today I am still arriving.

These words are strikingly powerful to me.
Thank you for quoting them here.
Dec. 12th, 2016 04:28 am (UTC)
You are welcome.

I stay with those lines as well.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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