Posted by: ktzefr | April 25, 2017

12 Poems from Around the World

Travel is a surefire way to dispel myths about others.  I’ve learned again and again that all people are more alike than different.  But the big similarities in people around the globe rarely make the news the way even our smallest differences can define us and tear us apart.  You don’t have to travel around the world, however, to understand others.  I’ve found that one of the best ways to get to know a people is to read the poets.  Poetry is powerful; it comes from the heart.  A single line can create connections across cultures.   We all dream and hope and do what we have to do. 


If a poem were a mirror, which one(s) of these dozen from a dozen different countries would reflect you?


“A balloon!  My Daddy brought for me…

     It goes up, I go up,

     I go down, it goes down.

I am the hummingbird awed

By that highest rosebud.

~ Blanca Rodriguez, MEXICO, from “Surprise”



“White shells,

I still can hear the ocean sounds

I used to hear when childhood

Was small and sweet

I still can hear, within the depths

Of every sleeping shell,

The vast sea-roar!”

~ Javier Heraud, PERU, from “Autumn and the Sea”



“I am like Jojon, the farmhand from Tegal

Who left his wife and children behind

To pedal a pedicab in Jakarta.

Like Salka, the fisherman in Cilincing

Separated from his family on Madura Island…


We are hundreds of thousands…

At the city’s construction sites

Who have left our families behind in the village…

When you see the mist descend from the sky,

Or when it rains for days before Christmas,

Relax, sleep in peace.

In your dreams I will send millions of stars,

As long as you, in your prayers, also mention my name.”

~ Eka Budianta, INDONESIA, from “Family Portrait”



“…I want every instant

To be lovely as crayons.

I’d like to draw – on chaste white paper –

A clumsy freedom, eyes that never wept,

A piece of sky, a feather, a leaf,

A pale green evening…


I want each breathless moment to beget a flower.

I want to draw a future I’ve never seen—

Nor ever can – though I’m sure she’ll be beautiful.”

~ Gu Cheng, CHINA, from “A Headstrong Boy”



“I tell you, even rocks crack,

And not because of age…

And so the moss flourishes, the seaweed

Whips around,

The sea pushes through and rolls back –

The rocks seem motionless.

Till a little seal comes to rub against them,

Comes and goes away.

And suddenly the rock has an open wound.

I told you, when rocks break, it happens by surprise.

And people, too.”

~ Dahlia Ravikovitch, ISRAEL, from “Pride”




In the tangled boughs

Of the jasmine tree

And sometimes

On the green emerald floor

A nightingale sings

The poignant melodies

Of love.”

~ Muneer Niazi, PAKISTAN, from “A Dream of Paradise in the Shadow of War”



“When the moon rises like a cradle in the sky,

The bird flies and sings and cries:

Sleepytimes, little sleepy heads

Of those who have no food.

I am the angel of your dreams.

I am the birdsong of your sighs.”

~ Ramon C. Sunico, PHILIPPINES, from “The Tin Bird”



“from here let’s dream of every distant thing

Here let’s gather low-tide shells,

From the sea or sky at dawn

Let’s bring back little starfish…

Here let’s sit together for awhile

Let’s be blown by the cooling breeze.”

~ Shuntaro Tanikawa, JAPAN, from “Picnic to the Earth”



“Oh, the dream!  The dream!

My strong, gilded wagon

Has collapsed,

Its wheels have scattered like gypsies…

From now on you will not find me

At ports or among trains

But in public libraries

Sleeping head down on the maps of the world

As the orphan sleeps on pavement

Where my lips will touch more than one river

And my tears stream from continent

To continent.”

~ Muhammad al-Maghut, SYRIA, from “The Orphan”



“Take a pen in your uncertain fingers.

Trust, and be assured

That the whole world is a sky-blue butterfly

And words are the nets to capture it.”

~ Muhammad al-Ghuzzi, TUNISIA, from “The Pen”



“…there are in my landscape

Errors of colors and scents

Yet always

Always I love

What incessantly


As a golden ball

She runs before me:

Approached again and again,

My beloved,


~ Tymoteusz Karpowicz, POLAND, from “Love”



“It hurts, the things of old,

Attachment to the things of old.

Let go of them,

Let them go as they are;

From afar comes the sound of

The scissors of the *rag-picker.”

~ Kim Chiha, SOUTH KOREA, from “Inside”


(*Rag collectors make noise with their scissors when they are walking around neighborhoods looking for rags to collect and salvage.)










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