Thich Nhat Hanh
(born 1926)

Poetry on Peace

Thich Nhat Hanh:

Peace (1964)
Letter to Martin Luther King Jr. (1965)
Walking Meditation (1999)

Edited by Peter Y. Chou


They woke me this morning
to tell me my brother had been killed in battle.
Yet in the garden, uncurling moist petals,
a new rose blooms on the bush.
And I am alive, can still breathe the fragrance of roses and dung,
eat, pray, and sleep.
But when can I break my long silence?
When can I speak the unuttered words that are choking me?

Thich Nhat Hanh, "Peace",
The Cry of Vietnam
Unicorn Press, Santa Barbara, CA, 1968, p. 22

Notes: In Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh, (Parallax Press, Berkeley, 1999, p. 27), the following note appeared in the poem "Peace": This antiwar poem was written in Vietnam in 1964, when to pronounce the word "peace" meant you were "communist," helping the communists, or just defeatist. When Pham Duy, a well-known musician, put this poem to music, he used the title "A Dream."



I believe with all my heart that the monks who burned themselves
did not aim at the death of the oppressors but only at a change
in their policies. Their enemies are not man. They are intolerance,
fanaticism, dictatorship, cupidity, hatred, and discrimination
which lie within the heart of man. These are real enemies of humans,—
not humans themselves. In our unfortunate fatherland we are trying
to plead desperately: do not kill man, even in man's name. Please
kill the real enemies of man which are present everywhere in our
very hearts and minds... You cannot be silent since you have already
been in action and you are in action because, in you, God is in action.

Thich Nhat Hanh,
Director of the School of Youth for Social Service
of the Buddhist University in Saigon, Viet Nam.



Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

Thich Nhat Hanh,
Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh, Parallax Press, Berkeley, California, 1999, p. 194

Thich Nhat Hanh | Meditation Poems | Quotes | Community of Mindfulness | Suffering Is Not Enough

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P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (3-16-2003)