Buddhist New Year Song

By Diane di Prima b. 1934 Diane di Prima
I saw you in green velvet, wide full sleeves
seated in front of a fireplace, our house
made somehow more gracious, and you said
“There are stars in your hair”— it was truth I
brought down with me

to this sullen and dingy place that we must make golden
make precious and mythical somehow, it is our nature,
and it is truth, that we came here, I told you,
from other planets
where we were lords, we were sent here,
for some purpose

the golden mask I had seen before, that fitted
so beautifully over your face, did not return
nor did that face of a bull you had acquired
amid northern peoples, nomads, the Gobi desert

I did not see those tents again, nor the wagons
infinitely slow on the infinitely windy plains,
so cold, every star in the sky was a different color
the sky itself a tangled tapestry, glowing
but almost, I could see the planet from which we had come

I could not remember (then) what our purpose was
but remembered the name Mahakala, in the dawn

in the dawn confronted Shiva, the cold light
revealed the “mindborn” worlds, as simply that,
I watched them propagated, flowing out,
or, more simply, one mirror reflecting another.
then broke the mirrors, you were no longer in sight
nor any purpose, stared at this new blackness
the mindborn worlds fled, and the mind turned off:

a madness, or a beginning?

Diane di Prima, “Buddhist New Year Song” from Pieces of a Song. Copyright © 1990 by Diane di Prima. Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books.

Source: Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems (City Lights Books, 1990)

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Poet Diane di Prima b. 1934

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Subjects Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Religion, Buddhism, The Spiritual

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Feminist Beat poet Diane di Prima was born in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Swarthmore College for two years before moving to Greenwich Village in Manhattan and becoming a writer in the emerging Beat movement. There, she developed friendships with poets Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Frank O’Hara, and Audre Lorde. After joining Timothy Leary’s intentional community in upstate New York, she moved to San Francisco . . .

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SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Nature, Stars, Planets, Heavens, Religion, Buddhism, The Spiritual

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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