I owe a debt that can never be paid
To the poets who have gone before;
The mystics and sages, the prophets of old,
Voices calling from the dog-eared pages
Of dusty old tomes,
Calling me higher – calling me home.
Valmiki and Tulsidas,
The legendary authors of the ancient Hindu epics;
The poems and parables of Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and the Buddha;
Verses passed from master to disciple
Through the mists of many ages,
Reaching me at last – still fresh!
As though the master’s words were gently whispered in my ear.
The playful madness of Hafiz
Cuts like a razor through the dream of my separateness;
The yearning sound of Rumi’s reed flute
Wakes me from my slumber.
They have led me to the Tavern,
And filled my cup with wine.
And of course the bards of my own tongue,
Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Blake;
My countrymen – Emerson, Whitman, Frost;
Pioneers who blazed the trail,
Who left behind signs to show the way.
I have spent long hours alone with these voices,
Seeking their secrets, learning their craft;
Their lofty thoughts have filled my mind, and stirred my soul.
A great change has taken place in these quiet hours;
The words have leapt from the page
And into my heart –
And kindled there a sacred flame.
All that I am and have written,
All that I may ever be or do or say,
Rests upon the ancients.
This debt can never be repaid –
Only paid forward.
So I too will sing my song,
I will keep this fire burning bright
And leave behind what signs I might
For the poets who are yet to come.