The Penguin Book of Spiritual Verse

110 Poets on the Divine

Introduction by Kaveh Akbar
Paperback
$18.00 US
5.11"W x 7.77"H x 0.88"D  
On sale Sep 12, 2023 | 400 Pages | 978-0-241-39159-4
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
An inspiring new selection of poems exploring faith and the divine, featuring poets from across the world, from antiquity to the present, compiled by renowned poet and author of Martyr!, Kaveh Akbar

A Penguin Classic


Poets have always looked to the skies for inspiration, and have written as a way of getting closer to the power and beauty they sense in nature, in each other and in the cosmos. This anthology is a holistic and global survey of a lyric conversation about the divine, one which has been ongoing for millennia.

Beginning with the earliest attributable author in all of human literature, the twenty-third century BC Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna, and taking in a constellation of voices - from King David to Lao Tzu, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the Malian Epic of Sundiata - this selection presents a number of canonical voices like Blake, Dickinson and Tagore, alongside lesser-anthologized diverse voices going up to the present day, that showcase the breathtaking multiplicity of ways humanity has responded to the divine across place and time.

These poets' voices commune between millenia, offering readers a chance to experience for themselves the vast and powerful interconnectedness of these incantations orbiting the most elemental of all subjects - our spirit.
© Beowulf Sheehan
KAVEH AKBAR’s poems appear in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. He is the author of two poetry collections: Pilgrim Bell and Calling a Wolf a Wolf, in addition to a chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic. He is also the editor of The Penguin Book of Spiritual Verse: 110 Poets on the Divine. He lives in Iowa City. View titles by Kaveh Akbar
Introduction

Enheduanna, from ‘Hymn to Inanna’      
Unknown, ‘Death of Enkidu’, from The Epic of Gilgamesh                       
Unknown, from The Book of the Dead          
Unknown, Song of Songs, chapters 1 and 2        
King David, Psalm 23                   
Homer, from The Odyssey               
Sappho, Fragments 22 and 118              
Patacara, ‘When they plow their fields’          
Lao Tzu, ‘Easy by Nature’, from Tao Te Ching     
Chandaka, Two Cosmologies               
Vyasa, from the Bhagavad Gita             
Lucretius, from The Nature of Things         
Virgil, from The Aeneid                 
Shenoute, ‘Homily’                    
Sengcan, ‘The Mind of Absolute Trust’          
From the Quran                      
Kakinomoto Hitomaro, ‘In praise of Empress Jitō’    
Li Po, ‘Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon’        
Rabi’a al-Basri, ‘O my lord’             
Ono No Komachi, ‘This inn’               
Hanshan, ‘Hanshan’s Poem’               
Al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn Khalawayh, ‘Names of the Lion’                   
Unknown, Anglo-Saxon charm              
Izumi Shikibu, ‘Things I Want Decided’          
Li Qingzhao, ‘Late Spring’                 
Hildegard of Bingen, ‘Song to the Creator’        
Mahadeviyakka, ‘I do not call it his sign’          
Attar of Nishapur, ‘Parable of the Dead Dervishes in the Desert’                      
St Francis of Assisi, ‘Canticle of the Sun’         
Wumen Huikai, from The Gateless Gate         
Rūmī, ‘Lift Now the Lid of the Jar of Heaven’       
Mechthild of Magdeburg, ‘Of all that God has shown me’                        
Saadi Shirazi, ‘The Grass Cried Out’           
Thomas Aquinas, ‘Lost, All in Wonder’          
Moses de León, from The Sepher Zohar        
Dante Alighieri, from Inferno, Canto III        
from the Sundiata                   
Hafez, Ghazal 17                     
Yaqui people, ‘Deer Song’               
Nezahualcoyotl, ‘The Painted Book’          
Kabir, ‘Brother, I’ve seen some’          
Mirabai, ‘O friend, understand’             
Yoruba people, from A Recitation of Ifa        
Teresa of Ávila, ‘Laughter Came from Every Brick’
Gaspara Stampa, ‘Deeply repentant of my sinful ways’
St John of the Cross, ‘O Love’s living flame’
Mayan people, from the Popol Vuh
Christopher Marlowe, from Faustus
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 146
John Donne, ‘Batter my heart, three-person’d God’
Nahuatl people, ‘The Midwife Addresses the Woman’
George Herbert, ‘Easter Wings’
Walatta Petros/Gälawdewos, from The Life and Struggles of Our Mother Walatta Petros
John Milton, from Paradise Lost, Book 4
Bashō, ‘Death Song’ and ‘In Kyoto’
Juana Inés de la Cruz, ‘Suspend, singer swan, the sweet strain’
Yosa Buson, ‘A solitude’
Olaudah Equiano, ‘Miscellaneous Verses’
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, ‘Wanderer’s Nightsong II’
Phillis Wheatley, ‘On Virtue’
William Blake, ‘Auguries of Innocence’
Kobayashi Issa, ‘All the time I pray to Buddha’
John Clare, ‘I Am!’
John Keats, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’
Mirza Ghalib, ‘For the Raindrop’
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘Grief’
Frederick Douglass, ‘A Parody’
Emily Dickinson, ‘I prayed, at first, a little Girl’     
Uvavnuk, ‘The Great Sea’                
Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘God’s Grandeur’       
Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The Temple of Gold’       
Constantine Cavafy, ‘Body, Remember’         
W. B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’            
Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘The Second Duino Elegy’      
Muhammad Iqbal, ‘These are the days of lightning’   
Yosano Akiko, ‘To punish’                
Sarojini Naidu, ‘In the Bazaars of Hyderabad’      
Delmira Agustini, ‘Inextinguishables’          
Gabriela Mistral, ‘The Return’              
Anna Akhmatova, from ‘Requiem’            
Osip Mandelstam, ‘O Lord, help me to live through this night’                   
Edith Södergran, ‘A Life’                 
Marina Tsvetaeva, from Poems to Czechia      
María Sabina, from ‘The Midnight Velada’        
Xu Zhimo, ‘Second Farewell to Cambridge’       
Federico García Lorca, ‘Farewell’            
Nâzim Hikmet, ‘Things I Didn’t Know I Loved’      
Léopold Sédar Senghor, ‘Totem’             
Faiz Ahmed Faiz, ‘Before You Came’          
Czesław Miłosz, ‘Dedication’              
Edmond Jabès, ‘At the Threshold of the Book’     
Aimé Césaire, from Notebook of a Return to the Native Land                   
Octavio Paz, ‘Brotherhood: Homage to Claudius Ptolemy’                   
Oodgeroo Noonuccal, ‘God’s One Mistake’       
Paul Celan, ‘There was Earth in Them’          
Paul Laraque, ‘Rainbow’                 
Nazik Al-Malaika, ‘Love Song for Words’        
Wisława Szymborska, ‘Astonishment’          
Zbigniew Herbert, ‘The Envoy of Mr Cogito’      
Yehuda Amichai, ‘A Man in His Life’          
Ingeborg Bachmann, ‘Every Day’            
Kim Nam-Jo, ‘Foreign Flags’              
Kamau Brathwaite, ‘Bread’                
Adonis, ‘The New Noah’                 
Christopher Okigbo, ‘Come Thunder’          
Ingrid Jonker, ‘There Is Just One Forever’        
Jean Valentine, ‘The River at Wolf’            
Kofi Awoonor, ‘At the Gates’            
Adélia Prado, ‘Dysrhythmia’               
Lucille Clifton, ‘my dream about God’          
Vénus Khoury-Ghata, from She Says         
Mahmoud Darwish, ‘I Didn’t Apologize to the Well’   
M. NourbeSe Philip, from Zong!           
Inrasara, from Allegory of the Land          

Sources                          

Acknowledgements                    
Index of First Lines                    
Index of Titles                       

About

An inspiring new selection of poems exploring faith and the divine, featuring poets from across the world, from antiquity to the present, compiled by renowned poet and author of Martyr!, Kaveh Akbar

A Penguin Classic


Poets have always looked to the skies for inspiration, and have written as a way of getting closer to the power and beauty they sense in nature, in each other and in the cosmos. This anthology is a holistic and global survey of a lyric conversation about the divine, one which has been ongoing for millennia.

Beginning with the earliest attributable author in all of human literature, the twenty-third century BC Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna, and taking in a constellation of voices - from King David to Lao Tzu, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the Malian Epic of Sundiata - this selection presents a number of canonical voices like Blake, Dickinson and Tagore, alongside lesser-anthologized diverse voices going up to the present day, that showcase the breathtaking multiplicity of ways humanity has responded to the divine across place and time.

These poets' voices commune between millenia, offering readers a chance to experience for themselves the vast and powerful interconnectedness of these incantations orbiting the most elemental of all subjects - our spirit.

Author

© Beowulf Sheehan
KAVEH AKBAR’s poems appear in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. He is the author of two poetry collections: Pilgrim Bell and Calling a Wolf a Wolf, in addition to a chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic. He is also the editor of The Penguin Book of Spiritual Verse: 110 Poets on the Divine. He lives in Iowa City. View titles by Kaveh Akbar

Table of Contents

Introduction

Enheduanna, from ‘Hymn to Inanna’      
Unknown, ‘Death of Enkidu’, from The Epic of Gilgamesh                       
Unknown, from The Book of the Dead          
Unknown, Song of Songs, chapters 1 and 2        
King David, Psalm 23                   
Homer, from The Odyssey               
Sappho, Fragments 22 and 118              
Patacara, ‘When they plow their fields’          
Lao Tzu, ‘Easy by Nature’, from Tao Te Ching     
Chandaka, Two Cosmologies               
Vyasa, from the Bhagavad Gita             
Lucretius, from The Nature of Things         
Virgil, from The Aeneid                 
Shenoute, ‘Homily’                    
Sengcan, ‘The Mind of Absolute Trust’          
From the Quran                      
Kakinomoto Hitomaro, ‘In praise of Empress Jitō’    
Li Po, ‘Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon’        
Rabi’a al-Basri, ‘O my lord’             
Ono No Komachi, ‘This inn’               
Hanshan, ‘Hanshan’s Poem’               
Al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn Khalawayh, ‘Names of the Lion’                   
Unknown, Anglo-Saxon charm              
Izumi Shikibu, ‘Things I Want Decided’          
Li Qingzhao, ‘Late Spring’                 
Hildegard of Bingen, ‘Song to the Creator’        
Mahadeviyakka, ‘I do not call it his sign’          
Attar of Nishapur, ‘Parable of the Dead Dervishes in the Desert’                      
St Francis of Assisi, ‘Canticle of the Sun’         
Wumen Huikai, from The Gateless Gate         
Rūmī, ‘Lift Now the Lid of the Jar of Heaven’       
Mechthild of Magdeburg, ‘Of all that God has shown me’                        
Saadi Shirazi, ‘The Grass Cried Out’           
Thomas Aquinas, ‘Lost, All in Wonder’          
Moses de León, from The Sepher Zohar        
Dante Alighieri, from Inferno, Canto III        
from the Sundiata                   
Hafez, Ghazal 17                     
Yaqui people, ‘Deer Song’               
Nezahualcoyotl, ‘The Painted Book’          
Kabir, ‘Brother, I’ve seen some’          
Mirabai, ‘O friend, understand’             
Yoruba people, from A Recitation of Ifa        
Teresa of Ávila, ‘Laughter Came from Every Brick’
Gaspara Stampa, ‘Deeply repentant of my sinful ways’
St John of the Cross, ‘O Love’s living flame’
Mayan people, from the Popol Vuh
Christopher Marlowe, from Faustus
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 146
John Donne, ‘Batter my heart, three-person’d God’
Nahuatl people, ‘The Midwife Addresses the Woman’
George Herbert, ‘Easter Wings’
Walatta Petros/Gälawdewos, from The Life and Struggles of Our Mother Walatta Petros
John Milton, from Paradise Lost, Book 4
Bashō, ‘Death Song’ and ‘In Kyoto’
Juana Inés de la Cruz, ‘Suspend, singer swan, the sweet strain’
Yosa Buson, ‘A solitude’
Olaudah Equiano, ‘Miscellaneous Verses’
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, ‘Wanderer’s Nightsong II’
Phillis Wheatley, ‘On Virtue’
William Blake, ‘Auguries of Innocence’
Kobayashi Issa, ‘All the time I pray to Buddha’
John Clare, ‘I Am!’
John Keats, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’
Mirza Ghalib, ‘For the Raindrop’
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘Grief’
Frederick Douglass, ‘A Parody’
Emily Dickinson, ‘I prayed, at first, a little Girl’     
Uvavnuk, ‘The Great Sea’                
Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘God’s Grandeur’       
Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The Temple of Gold’       
Constantine Cavafy, ‘Body, Remember’         
W. B. Yeats, ‘The Second Coming’            
Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘The Second Duino Elegy’      
Muhammad Iqbal, ‘These are the days of lightning’   
Yosano Akiko, ‘To punish’                
Sarojini Naidu, ‘In the Bazaars of Hyderabad’      
Delmira Agustini, ‘Inextinguishables’          
Gabriela Mistral, ‘The Return’              
Anna Akhmatova, from ‘Requiem’            
Osip Mandelstam, ‘O Lord, help me to live through this night’                   
Edith Södergran, ‘A Life’                 
Marina Tsvetaeva, from Poems to Czechia      
María Sabina, from ‘The Midnight Velada’        
Xu Zhimo, ‘Second Farewell to Cambridge’       
Federico García Lorca, ‘Farewell’            
Nâzim Hikmet, ‘Things I Didn’t Know I Loved’      
Léopold Sédar Senghor, ‘Totem’             
Faiz Ahmed Faiz, ‘Before You Came’          
Czesław Miłosz, ‘Dedication’              
Edmond Jabès, ‘At the Threshold of the Book’     
Aimé Césaire, from Notebook of a Return to the Native Land                   
Octavio Paz, ‘Brotherhood: Homage to Claudius Ptolemy’                   
Oodgeroo Noonuccal, ‘God’s One Mistake’       
Paul Celan, ‘There was Earth in Them’          
Paul Laraque, ‘Rainbow’                 
Nazik Al-Malaika, ‘Love Song for Words’        
Wisława Szymborska, ‘Astonishment’          
Zbigniew Herbert, ‘The Envoy of Mr Cogito’      
Yehuda Amichai, ‘A Man in His Life’          
Ingeborg Bachmann, ‘Every Day’            
Kim Nam-Jo, ‘Foreign Flags’              
Kamau Brathwaite, ‘Bread’                
Adonis, ‘The New Noah’                 
Christopher Okigbo, ‘Come Thunder’          
Ingrid Jonker, ‘There Is Just One Forever’        
Jean Valentine, ‘The River at Wolf’            
Kofi Awoonor, ‘At the Gates’            
Adélia Prado, ‘Dysrhythmia’               
Lucille Clifton, ‘my dream about God’          
Vénus Khoury-Ghata, from She Says         
Mahmoud Darwish, ‘I Didn’t Apologize to the Well’   
M. NourbeSe Philip, from Zong!           
Inrasara, from Allegory of the Land          

Sources                          

Acknowledgements                    
Index of First Lines                    
Index of Titles                       

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