Tao Te Ching #5: “Heaven and earth are not humane”

Robinson Jeffers: 10 Essential Poems Human Voices Wake Us

Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. You can also support this podcast by going to wordandsilence.com and checking out any of my books. Tonight I read ten essential poems from the American poet Robinson Jeffers (1187-1962). Selections of Jeffers’s poetry are legion: many of them can be found here. The five-volume Collected Poems of Robinson Jeffers, edited by Tim Hunt and published by Stanford University Press, can be found here. You can read more about his life at the Poetry Foundation and Wikipedia. A larger selection of his poetry, which I recorded in 2020-2021, can be found here. The poems I read are: The Excesses of God Point Joe Hooded Night New Mexican Mountain Nova from Hungerfield De Rerum Virtute Vulture “I am seventy-four years old and suddenly all my strength” Inscription for a Gravestone The episode ends with a 1941 Library of Congress recording of Jeffers reading his poem, “Natural Music.” Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support
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Heaven and earth are not humane;
they regard all beings as straw dogs.
Sages are not humane;
they see all people as straw dogs.
The space between have and earth
is like bellows and pipes,
empty yet inexhaustible,
producing more with movement.
The talkative reach their wits’ end
again and again;
that is not as good as keeping centered.

– Thomas Cleary

 

Heaven and Earth are heartless
treating creatures like straw dogs
sages are heartless too
they treat people like straw dogs
between Heave and Earth
how like a bellows
empty but inexhaustible
each stroke produces more
talking only wastes it
better to protect what’s inside

– Red Pine

 

Heaven and earth refuse kind-kindness:
Treating all things as dogs of straw.
Wise rulers too refuse kin-kindness:
Taking gentlefolk as dogs of straw.

The space that heaven and earth frame
Works like a kiln-bellows and airpipes,
Which though emptying is not exhausted,
And activated, pours more forth.
A ruler’s swiftly spent who speaks too much;
Better for him to guard his inner state.

– Moss Roberts

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