Monday, February 8, 2010

Zen, W.S. Merwin, and Old Dogs

Treetop Zen Center

Last Saturday, Tom and I attended a poetry workshop at the Treetop Zen Center near Waterville: "A Day with the Zen of Emily Dickinson and W.S. Merwin" facilitated by Peter Harris, a Colby College English professor. Here's how Peter described the workshop: "Emily Dickinson never heard of Zen, but her poetry is shot through with Zen-like insights. Pulitzer Prize winner W.S. Merwin is a Zen student who shuns the label of Zen poet. We’ll read some of their poems, talk about what they have to offer, and write a little in response. No experience with Dickinson, Merwin, or Zen is necessary. Just bring pen and paper."

We read Merwin in the afternoon and this poem about an old dog had all of us ready to weep: 


It could be like that when the beloved
old dog finding it harder and harder
to breathe and understanding but coming
to ask whether there is something that can
be done about it coming again to
ask and then standing there without asking.

W.S. Merwin


I'll be drawing Cuzco this week, an elderly fellow who, although he's lost the use of his hind legs, still has a lot of life left in him. Doesn't he look like he's asking us something?

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