“Samurai Song”

Samurai Warrior with Sword Drawn

I love this poem by Robert Pinsky, formerly Poet Laureate of the United States. It reminds me of my own situation, in which I must deal with the waning years of my life with the spirit of a warrior. The poem is called “Samurai Song.” I first discovered it in The New Yorker. Several years ago, I met Mr. Pinsky at a book festival and told him how much this poem meant to me.

Samurai Song

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had no
Mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.