A Vision of the Bodhisattvas

By Philip Whalen 1923–2002 Philip Whalen
They pass before me one by one riding on animals
"What are you waiting for," they want to know

Z—, young as he is (& mad into the bargain) tells me
"Some day you'll drop everything & become a rishi, you know."

I know
The forest is there, I've lived in it
    More certainly than this town? Irrelevant—

    What am I waiting for?
A change in customs that will take 1000 years to come about?
Who's to make the change but me?

    "Returning again and again," Amida says

Why's that dream so necessary? walking out of whatever house alone
Nothing but the clothes on my back, money or no
Down the road to the next place the highway leading to the   
mountains
From which I absolutely must come back

What business have I to do that?
I know the world and I love it too much and it
Is not the one I'd find outside this door.

Philip Whalen, "A Vision of the Bodhisattvas" from The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen copyright © 2007 by Brandeis University Press and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. www.wesleyan.edu/wespress

Source: The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan University Press, 2007)

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Poet Philip Whalen 1923–2002

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Philip Whalen is often labelled a "Beat poet" because he enjoyed his first creative achievement during the years when Beat literature thrived. As an ally and confidant of the major figures of the Beat Generation—and as a significant poet in his own right—Whalen is generally considered one of the pioneering forces behind the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance of the mid-1950s. The author's work differs from much Beat writing in its . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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