“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.



Do Not Pity Me

You must not pity me because my sixtieth year finds me still astonished. To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.—Colette