Romanticism and Buddhism
The Tantric Master, Lord Marpa,
Twice Dreamt of the Prophet, William Blake
Norman Dubie, Arizona State University
Art for Shelley entails a self-emptying exposure to a prior Buddhistic oneness with all beings, an 'origin' dislocated in time and space yet forever emergent in the moment and accessible through poetry as a mode of spiritual practice. This article explores the theoretical features, the practical functions, and the critical implications of this 'origin' through a Zen Buddhist reading of Shelley's _A Defence of Poetry_ and 'Ode to the West Wind.' This essay appears in _Romanticism and Buddhism_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.
The great translator thought
he had suffered the sleep of a cloudless day
in a boat of skins
on a cold and black inland sea.
Elohim, the eye of minor periphery,
broke bread with him on the moonlit water.
He washed his beard and hair
and said your daughters are now stepping from furnaces.
But if we wake
by their drying looms
with a mountain of salt between me and them,
then the diarist wife
has taken these margins of yellowing shoreline
London sleeps with its cousins and sisters all winter
while naked surgeons cross through the city
bearing torches . . . well, citizens
this is the cult of worms
who by physical inches of devotion are measuring a churchyard.
The owls forming a morbidly obese quotation
The Word is always out weeping in the evening
refusing the hot custards, stealing
from sick and defenseless travelers.
The last Republic is out too, burning on the horizon.
Phoenician men sitting on the purple rocks
mending their nets, chewing
on roots, laugh
and then walk out across the water.
They've been doing it for centuries,
that is— mending their nets with laughter.