Thursday, April 26, 2012

Birthday books ~ and a poem (or two)

I learned from Jan @ Yearning for God that today (my birthday!) is Poem in Your Pocket Day.  The idea is simple:  select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends. You readers are my friends, so-o-o-o-o .......

I'll share Emily Dickinson's poem "I'm Nobody!  Who are you?"
I'm nobody!  Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
Oh, wait!  I can't let this day (my "birth day," as in this poem) go by without something by e. e. cummings, whose poetry is absurdly fun.  How about this one?
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Last year, I posted a list of books I got for my birthday.  It seems like a good "tradition" to start, so yesterday, I bought some more books for myself.  Here are my newest birthday books to myself:

Tao Te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary ~ by Lao Tzu, translated by Ralph Alan Dale, photographs by John Cleare, 2002
To live life in accordance with "Tao" (life-force or the way) is to be in harmony with others, with the environment, and with oneself.  This book of wisdom is the sacred book of Taoism  This version has beautiful illustrations, and I had to have it.
Tao Te Ching ~ by Lao Tzu, translated by Charles Muller, notes by Yi-Ping Ong, 2005
When I shop for different versions of this book, I always read number eleven (or chapter 11, if you prefer) because I've found so many translations, and each one gives us a different way of looking at this bit of wisdom.
Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way ~ by Lao Tzu, rendition by Ursula K. Le Guin, with the collaboration of J. P. Seaton, 1997
Even thought she doesn't speak Chinese, Ursula K. Le Guin has studied the Tao for over forty years.
Why, you ask, do I need three versions of the same book?  Different translations, mainly.  I already have (I think) about eleven.  When I teach Religions of the World, I hand out my copies and ask students to read the various versions.  We are enriched by the different ways of thinking about the same thing.
Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation ~ by Stephen Mitchell, 2000
Although I didn't go looking for this core text of the Hindu tradition, Mitchell is such a wonderful translator that I went ahead and got it.  (His is my favorite translation of the Tao Te Ching.)  Hinduism has several sacred books, including the Upanishads (or Vedanta, the end of the Vedas) and the Bhagavad Gita.  When I studied Hinduism in college, we looked mainly at the Upanishads, so I need to read this book to broaden my understanding.
Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ by Thích Nhất Hạnh, introduction by Elaine Pagels, 1995, religion
I wrote about this book in yesterday's library loot post.  I quickly decided it's one I want to keep, so I got this used paperback copy (the red one is the hardback version).
Helen @ Helen's Book Blog noticed (see comments below this post) I've been writing about lots of books about religion, and she's right.  I don't read exclusively about religion, but I am after all an ordained United Methodist minister (retired) and have taught Religions of the World as an adjunct at Chattanooga State since about 1992.  In other words, this is where my studies have led me.

I leave you now with a kaleidoscope of color shared today by Colleen @ Loose Leaf Notes.  Use your mouse to play with these colors.


Jan said...

Poems I love, esp. this one of e.e. cummings. I've been looking at/reading books on the I Ching, also, lately. Another thing to write/chat about?? Jaliya used to have a blog about this:

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Sure, I would love to talk about it. I have more than one copy of the I Ching, but only one unpacked onto my shelves -- beside copies of the Tao Te Ching -- where I raised my eyes upon reading about your interest. I looked at the I Ching quotes link, but the last thing posted was three months ago. Too bad.

It's amazing how many of our interests overlap. I really want to get to know you better, maybe by reading and discussing something together. Want to?

Helen's Book Blog said...

Happy Birthday! I hope you had a wonderful day filled with family, fun, laughter and love.

Your Emily Dickinson poem goes along with a conversation I had with a student today. She has a brand new job (her first) and is worried she isn't perfect. I did my best to convince her that perfect is unobtainable and boring

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Thanks, Helen. My twin daughters took me to lunch, my son tried to visit and sent a card and gift via his sisters when our schedules didn't work out for today (all three live within a few miles of each other), and my friend Donna took me out to eat this evening. Had a long phone conversation with my sister, who lives a couple of hours away. Very nice day, indeed.

Jan said...

Yes, let's Bonnie. Any ideas?

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Jan, how about the last one on this list of my "birthday books" (if you can find a copy)? It's Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thích Nhất Hạnh, and the introduction is by Elaine Pagels. The ten chapters:

1. Be Still and Know
2. Mindfulness and the Holy Spirit
3. The First Supper
4. Living Buddha, Living Christ
5. Communities of Practice
6. A Peaceful Heart
7. For a Future to Be Possible
8. Taking Refuge
9. The Other Shore
10. Faith and Practice