By Peter Y. Chou,

# Stanza in Poem Literary Sources
1 The cube of the Trinity—
Dante's vision of Beatrice
love, sweetness, beatitude
On the Number 27
Dante, Vita Nuova, 3.3
Dante, Vita Nuova, 27.8-12
2 Double flame, the 9th hour's rays
the smile of the universe—
O joy! gladness! love & peace!
Dante, Inferno 27.1; Purgatorio 27.6,
Dante, Paradiso 27.5
Dante, Paradiso 27.7-8
3 At the 27th step
of π, O God created
the soul of the universe
π = 3.141592653589793238462643383279
George Burns in Oh God! on the 27th floor
Platonic Lambda in Plato's Timaeus 35b
4 27 houses of the Moon
27 bones in the human hand
27th day— Mozart was born
27 days of moon's visibility
On the Number 27
Mozart's birthday: January 27, 1756
5 Darkness upon the face of the deep—
the First Mystery— the Treasury
of the Light sings praises
Genesis I.2 (KJV: word 27 = deep)
Pistis Sophia, Verse 27
Books of Jeu, Verse 27
6 at the foot of the mountain
thunder providing nourishment
perseverance brings good fortune
King Wên, I Ching, Hexagram 27, Image
I Ching, Hexagram 27, Image
I Ching, Hexagram 27, Judgment
7 Be mindful— be aware of what you do,
all things spring from seeds,
the silence of wishes and desires
Buddha, Dhammapada, 27; Koran 27.88
Chuang Tzu, Chapter 27
Rumi, Dîvân-i Kebîr, Verse 27
8 beyond words— the language of birds
a dark gorge babbles, a pine sighs
and solid mountains pass away
Buddha, Lankavatara Sutra, II.27; Koran 27.16
Han-shan, Cold Mountain, Poem 27
Mohammed, Koran, 27.88
9 The arrow soars through space—
Can you produce or reduce the void?
Stop seeking and be tranquil.
Setcho, Hekiganroku, Case 27
Huang Po, Transmission of Mind, Section 27
Huang Po, Transmission of Mind, Section 27
10 Sincerity penetrates all spirits—
This is a place where flowers bloom,
trees dance and dreams melt away.
Shao Yung, Supreme Principles, Section 27
Milarepa, Mila Grubum, Ch. 27
Milarepa, Mila Grubum, Ch. 27
11 The truth that has not been taught—
"Not mind, not Buddha, not things"
Golden breeze— soft rain clouds the sky
Mumon Ekai, Mumonkan, Case 27
Mumon Ekai, Mumonkan, Case 27
Setcho, Hekiganroku, Case 27
12 the fragrance of spring flowers
yellow and blue and red,
wild-almond, lotus, magnolia
Dogen, Poems, Verse 27
Pearl Poet, Pearl, line 27
H.D., Walls Do Not Fall, Poem 27
13 The wise open their wings to God
not as geese but as eagles—
good deeds return a thousandfold
Yunus Emre, Lyric Poems, Verse 27
Yunus Emre, Lyric Poems, Verse 27
Yunus Emre, Lyric Poems, Verse 27
14 The nightingale sang last night:
"The Endless has no end— the Tao
is Yin & Yang following each other."

Hafiz, Tongue of the Hidden, Verse 27
Kabir, Raga Gauri-Purabi, Verse 27
Lo Ch'in-shun, Knowledge Painfully Acquired, 27
15 The Rose Garden of Wisdom hides
mysteries pour rich orange round the
purple core, white daisy, white gold
Michael Maier, Atalanta Fugiens, Emblema 27
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 27.29
William Carlos Williams, Spring and All, 27
16 The soul's impassioned flight—
mind's journey of beautous black night
and Phoenix light in the sunbeam
Shakespeare, Sonnets, 27.9
Shakespeare, Sonnets, 27.3, 27.12
Marsilio Ficino, Letters, 27
17 See the one in a thousand threads—
water in the stream, river, and pond,
the sea— falling snow in wintry air
Oppen, Of Being Numerous, 27
William of Auvergne, Trinity, 27
Walllace Stevens, Man with Blue Guitar, 27
18 Morns like these— we parted sleep
from the waking-dream and reap
nothing but the air burst into leaf
Emily Dickinson, Poem 27; Pound, Cantos, 27
Ezra Pound, Cantos, 27
Ezra Pound, Cantos, 27
19 Awakening is the dissolving
of appearance, evaporation
of a dream, vanishing as an object
Wei Wu Wei, Open Secret, Ch. 27
Wei Wu Wei, Open Secret, Ch. 27
Wei Wu Wei, Open Secret, Ch. 27
20 A blue streak— speed the Falcon
words like shafts of lightning
silent drums, summer of your heart
Rig Veda, IV.27; Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 27.11
St. Francis of Assisi, Little Flowers, Ch. 27
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Collected Sonnets, 27
21 Consciousness of balance is Nirvana—
this universe— an eternal cycle
pulsating rhythm of thought & rest
Merrell-Wolff, Aphorisms, 27
Paul Brunton, Notebooks, Vol. 1, Ch. 27
Paul Brunton, Notebooks, Vol. 1, Ch. 27
22 The night is black as a black stone
carved stone upon stone, I sleep.
Can you tell the down from the up?
Tagore, Gitanjali, Verse 27
Ezra Pound, Cantos, Ch. 27
Ezra Pound, Cantos, Ch. 27
23 Summer is over, spring follows
winter as clover knows golden fruits,
roses answer the thorniest question
e.e. cummings, Xaipe, 27
e.e. cummings, Xaipe, 27; Millay, Sonnets, 27
e.e. cummings, Xaipe, 27
24 "The stone man is crying— why?"
I know not its meaning
"Only go straight— don't know"
Seung Sahn, Koan 27
Tagore, Gitanjali, Verse 27
Seung Sahn, Koan 27
25 but i am nought, i have nought—
be nothing to be filled up
holy emptiness is everywhere
Robert Lax, 27th & 4th
Robert Lax, 27th & 4th
Kerouac Golden Eternity, Verse 27
26 Life is not holy because
it is beautiful. It is
beautiful because it is holy
Robert Lax, A Thing That Is, Poem 27
Robert Lax, A Thing That Is, Poem 27
Robert Lax, A Thing That Is, Poem 27
27 Be generous with your time
rekindle the flame— Wake up!
We're all in heaven now.
Kerouac Golden Eternity, Verse 27
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 27.13
Kerouac Golden Eternity, Verse 27

Meditation Notes to Poem:

I spent ten days compiling the web pages "On the Number 27" to celebrate my niece Elisa's 27th birthday on Feb. 27. This poem was begun at midnight on February 28, 2004 and when I finished the 27 stanzas of triplets on three sheets of lined yellow sheets, it was 8:30 am. For the context of sources for the lines in this poem, consult On the Number 27 to see how this poem was constructed. What unites the writers quoted in this poem is the number 27. That is, the writer's words appeared in verse 27, sonnet 27, chapter 27, line 27, or page 27. It was exhilarating assembling this poem together from the words of my favorite poets, philosophers, and sages. As to the meaning of this poem, I'm still exploring the rich treasure trouve before me. When insights come, they will be added to this web page. Readers are invited to participate in providing a richer understanding of this puzzle poem.

Stanza 1: cube of the Trinity—
Dante (1265-1321) began writing the Vita Nuova around 1292, at age 27, as he completed the third nine-year period of his life. (Dante, Vita Nuova, translated by Dino S. Cervigni & Edward Vasta, University of Notre Dame Press, 1995, p. 10)

Stanza 2: Fire images in Cantos 27 of Dante's Commedia
In Canto 27 of Inferno, the double flame departs at a word from Virgil, and behind it appears another flame containing the soul of Count Guido da Montefeltro. In Canto 27 of Purgatorio, Virgil helps Dante to overcome his fear to enter the wall of fire. In Canto 27 of Paradiso, Beatrice's smile fires up Dante to enter the Primum Mobile, beyond the Fixed Stars, so he is at last free from fear of fire.

Stanza 3: At the 27th step of π, God created the soul of the universe—
π = 3.141592653589793238462643383279
27 occurs at the 28th & 29th digits of π ((27 & Pi)
Its neighbors the 27th & 30th digits, 3 & 9 when multipled gives 27.
One may speculate that God left his signature "Cube of the Trinity" or 27
in the transcendental number π at precisely this position to astound us.
27 is the highest number of the Platonic Lambda series
which God created the soul of the universe (Plato, Timaeus, 35b):
Double interval series: 1, 2, 4, 8
Triple interval series: 1, 3, 9, 27
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 8 + 9 = 27
Is this why Carl Reiner placed God (George Burns) on
the 27th floor in Room 2700 in his 1977 movie Oh God!?

Stanza 4: Moon Phase when Mozart was born—
Mozart was born on January 27, 1756. Was there a New Moon or Full Moon on this day? Checking the U.S. Naval Observatory Data on Phases of the Moon for 1756 shows that the Full Moon occurred on January 17 and the New Moon occurred on January 31. The Last Quarter Moon occurred on Jan. 24. So Mozart was born three days after the Last Quarter, four days before the New Moon, and ten days after the last Full Moon.

Stanza 5: deep darkness, First Mystery, Treasury of the Light—
Is the void and the deep darkness of Genesis I.2, the Black Hole before the creation of this universe? Is it dark matter? Is it dark energy? Is the First Mystery the Big Bang releasing the Treasury of Light the same as Genesis I.3: "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." It's interesting that Jesus said in Ch. 27 of Pistis Sophia: "And my garment of light was upon me, and I was shining exceedingly, there being no measure to the light which I had." The First Mystery is God's first creation— "Let there be light". In this sense, we may say that Christ is God's Son, emerging from the deep darkness. Christos means "Bringer of Light", but he is also the Light which has "no measure"— that is beyond time. That's why Jesus said "Before Abraham was, I am." (John 8.58)

Stanza 6: Hexagram 27 of the I Ching: "Providing Nourishment"—
This hexagram is a picture of an open mouth; above and below are firm lines of the lips, and between them the opening. Starting with the mouth, through which we take food for nourishment. The upper trigram, Kên, is "Keeping Still, Mountain". The lower trigram Chên is "The Arousing, Thunder". In the Discussion of the I Ching Trigrams, we find "God comes forth in the sign of the Arousing (thunder brings about movement). He brings them to perfection in the sign of Keeping Still (mountain brings about stillness). Spring begins to stir and in nature there is germination and sprouting. This awakening belongs to the trigram Chên, the Arousing, which streams out of the earth as thunder and electrical energy. Winter ends the cycle of growth and decay and correspond to the trigram Kên, Keeping Still, whose symbol is the mountain. Here, in the seed, in the deep-hidden stillness, the end of everything is joined to a new beginning. Death and life, dying and resurrection— these are the thoughts awakened by the transition from the old year to the new. (Cary F. Baynes & Richard Wilhelm (trans.), I Ching: Book of Changes, Princeton University Press, 1950, pp. 268-271)

Stanza 7: Be mindful, all things spring from seeds and desires—
Right mindfulness is being aware of one's thoughts, words, and deeds. It is one of the Buddha's 8-Fold Path that helps us experience enlightenment or Nirvana. Mohammed says in Koran XXVII: "He is Aware of what you do". If we equate He = God = Awareness = Pure Consciousness, then we realize that God knows all our wishes and desires even before we pray because our desires arise in our consciousness and God is Pure Consciousness. Life springs from seeds. Buddha taught that primordial Ignorance (avidya) produces Desire-to-be (trishna), unsatisfied Desire is the cause of life, resulting in old age and death. To overcome this cycle of suffering, it is necessary to extinguish Desire. Getting rid of the seed of desire, it is necessary to destroy Ignorance. (More on Mindfulness)

Stanza 9: The arrow soars through space—
In his notes to Hekiganroku Case 27, Katsuki Sekida writes: "The arrow penetrates the universe. The arrow is Ummon's answer, which goes directly to the heart of the matter." (Sekida, Two Zen Classics, 1977, p. 220). In Greek myth, Apollo's arrows are the sun's rays. Diana's arrow symbolizes lunar power & light. Cupid's arrow are the piercing darts of love. In Shamanic tradition, the feathered arrow represents the bird-flight to heaven, transcending the earthly state (J.C. Cooper, "Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols", 1978, p. 15). In the Mundaka Upanishad, II.2 (600 BC): "The bow is the sacred Om, the arrow is our own soul. Brahman is the mark of the arrow, the aim of the soul. Even as an arrow becomes one with its mark, let the watchful soul be one in him." (translated by Juan Mascaró Penguin Books, 1965, p. 79). In the context of this stanza, the arrow may represent time or the earth's motion in space that creates day & night and the four seasons. Metaphysically, the arrow symbolizes thought-flow in our mind. The void or emptiness (sunyata) is outside of time and eternal. It is beyond creation and destruction. Stop seeking and be tranquil is the advice of Psalms 46.10: "Be still, and know I am God."

Stanza 10: Sincerity penetrates all spirits—
The Chinese word ch'eng () means not only sincerity in the ordinary sense, but also absence of fault, seriousness, being true to one's real self, being true to the nature of things, actuality, and realness. (Wing-tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, 1963, p. 493, footnote 26). Shao Yung quotes Doctrine of the Mean XXI: "Given sincerity, there will be enlightenment, and given enlightenment, there will be sincerity." Chou Tun-Yi (1017-1073) writes "Sincerity is the foundation of the sage. All things derive their beginning from it." (Penetrating the Book of Changes, Ch. 1). Milarepa's "This is a place where flowers bloom" (Mila Grubum, Ch. 27) refers to flower gardens as a symbol of Paradise, the Fields of the Blessed, or a tranquil mind of serenity. When one realizes one's true self or Buddha nature or Christ Consciousness, then the false ego-self vanishes and "the dreams of confusion melt away." One then is "absorbed in the Great Illumination" and experiencing the "joy of becoming Buddha" or the Awakened One.

Stanza 11: The truth that has not been taught—
In his notes to Mumonkan Case 27, Katsuki Sekida writes: "The ultimate truth, or Dharma, has not been taught because it cannot be taught. It can only be learned. Buddha delivered about 300 sermons during his lifetime, but when he was dying he said, 'During the 49 years of my teaching I did not preach even one word." Likewise, Plato said in his Seventh Letter, that he has never written any philosophy. Jesus did not reply to Pilate's query, "What is Truth?" (John, 18.38), much in the same way as Buddha's silence in his Flower Sermon. In his notes to Hekiganroku Case 27, Katsuki Sekida writes: "The golden breeze is the autumnal breeze. When you embody it you know the meaning of "trees wither and leaves fall." This saying of Ummon's may sound commonplace, but to one who has an intuitive understanding of it, it is ever fresh and original. This embodying of the golden breeze constitutes the principal theme of Setcho's verse. (Sekida, Two Zen Classics, 1977, p. 218-219)

Stanza 14: The nightingale sang last night
In Clarence K. Streit's translation of Hafiz: The Tongue of the Hidden (1928), we find in Verse 27: "The nightingale sang unto me last night." In Thomas Rain Crowe's rendering of Háfez In Wineseller's Street (1998), we find in Verse 27: "The nightingale starts to sing!" In Sufi symbolism, the nightingale's song to the rose is a metaphor of the soul's longing for God. Attar (d. 1230) in Mantiq al-tayr (Language of the Birds) portrays the Nightingale as the first bird to speak. He explains that he's bound by love to the rose whom he extols in his songs. "In the rose garden, God contemplates His own face with the eye of the nightingales. Then the rose garden resounded with the nightingales' song. (Hellmut Ritter, The Ocean of the Soul: Man, the World and God in the Stories of Farid al-Din Attar, Brill, Leiden, 2003, p. 498). Keats writes in Ode to a Nightingale (May 1819): "Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!" In Attar's Conference of the Birds, we find "Salutations, O Nightingale of the Garden of Love! Open your melodious throat and sing of spiritual things. By your songs show men the true Way." ( trans. C. S. Nott, Shambhala, Boston, 1993, p. 9). Hence, the Nightingale understands the Tao as the endless cycle of Yin & Yang, night & day following each other. The Tao image of these opposites are invoked in Tao Te Ching, XVIII: "Know the male, but keep to the role of the female... Know the white, but keep to the role of the black." (D. C. Lau's translation of Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Penguin Books, 1963, p. 85)

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
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