Poetry of the Spirit

Spiritual masters from many different traditions have often expressed their teachings through poetry. Their intuitively-inspired poetic compositions touch the heart, speak to essential spiritual truths and celebrate the mystery and wonder of life.



The Way of Chuang Tzu
Thomas Merton
New Directions (1969)

Working from existing translations, Father Merton has composed a series of poetical versions from the classical sayings of Chuang Tzu, the most spiritual of the Chinese Taoist philosophers.

The Ruins of the Heart
Edmund Helminski
Threshold Books (1981)

Edmund Helminski provides sensitive translations of selected lyric poetry from the pen of the great Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi.

The Penguin Book of Zen Poetry
Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto, eds.
Penguin Books (1981)

This comprehensive collection of poems spans 1500 years - from the early T'ang dynasty to the present day. It offers Zen poetry in all its diversity: Chinese poems of enlightenment, poems of the Japanese Zen masters and many haiku - the quintessential Zen poetic art.

The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke
Stephen Mitchell
Harper and Row (1982)

Rilke's powerful poetry is expertly translated into English from the original German by acclaimed scholar Stephen Mitchell.

Open Secret: Versions of Rumi
John Moyne and Coleman Barks
Threshold Books (1984)

Rumi's quatrains and odes, translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, are the inspired records of the Sufi mystic's encounter with the Divine.

On Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho
Lucien Stryk (translator)
Penguin Books (1985)

Basho was one of the greatest haiku poets of Zen Buddhism. In these deceptively simple, yet profoundly elegant three-line compositions, he captures the essence of human life and the mystery of existence.

Tao Te Ching
Stephen Mitchell
Harper and Row (1988)

Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, or 'Book of the Way,' is a classical manual on the art of living. Scholar Stephen Mitchell's English translation wonderfully captures the gemlike lucidity of the original.

The Enlightened Heart
Stephen Mitchell
Harper and Row (1989)

The collection of sacred poetry contains poems from the Taoist and Buddhist masters, Rumi and other Sufi mystics, Christian poets such as Francis of Assisi, Dante, Blake, Whitman and Emily Dickinson.

The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke
Stephen Mitchell, ed.
Vintage Books (1989)

Rilke is considered to be one of the greatest European poets of the 20th century, whose influence continues to this day. This acclaimed English translation wonderfully captures Rilke’s spiritual voice and deep insights into the human condition.

The Essential Rumi
Coleman Barks
Castle Books (1997)

Translator Coleman Barks offers beautiful renderings of the poetry of Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi. The poems convey spiritual wisdom and truths with love, humour, warmth and tenderness.

The Gift: Poems by Hafiz
Daniel Ladinsky
Penguin Compass (1999)

Translator Daniel Ladinsky captures the essence of Persian poet Hafiz, who is widely regarded as one of Islam's greatest poets and religious voices. This collection of 250 of his mystical poems reveals a profound spiritual knowledge interwoven with playful humour.

Zen Poems
Peter Harris, ed.
Alfred A. Knopf (1999)

This collection of translations of classical Zen poets of China, Japan and Korea embodies the simple yet elegant expression of the direct, intuitive insight or sudden enlightenment which characterizes the teaching of Zen.

The Rumi Collection
Kabir Helminski
Shambhala (2000)

This anthology presents poems of the great Sufi mystic Rumi, featuring the leading literary translations of his verse by respected translators Coleman Barks, Robert Bly, Andrew Harvey, Camille and Kabir Helminski, and others.

Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion
Coleman Barks
Shambhala (2000)

These selections from the poetry of Rumi by translator Coleman Barks express Rumi's deep understanding of the human condition of ego-imprisonment and the possibility of a spiritual rebirth.

The Soul of Rumi
Coleman Barks
Harper Collins (2001)

This rendering of Rumi's ecstatic poems by highly praised translator Coleman Barks captures the essence of the Sufi mystic's insights into the mystery and wonder of life and the nature of both humanity and God.

Poetry of the Spirit
Alan Jacobs, ed.
Watkins (2002)

This original anthology of spiritual poetry spans all ages from the very early mystics through to the 20th century, and includes contributions from all of the world's spiritual traditions.

Love Poems from God
Daniel Ladinsky
Penguin Compass (2002)

Daniel Ladinsky, best known for his translations of the great Sufi poet Hafiz, has collected verses from some of the world’s greatest spiritually inspired masters, including Rumi, St. Francis of Assisi, Kabir, St. Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart.

The Poetry of Zen
Sam Hamill and J.P. Seaton
Shambhala (2004)

Two of America's most renowned poets and translators provide an overview of Zen poetry from China and Japan in all its rich variety from the earliest days to the 20th century.

Music of the Sky: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry
Patrick Laude and Barry McDonald, eds.
World Wisdom (2004)

This treasury of spiritual poems is drawn from a wide variety of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. Despite their great diversity, the world-renowned poets speak the ‘same language’ and express similar universal truths.

Home Within
Richard Bredsteen (2005)

Local poet Richard Bredsteen offers poems of the heart inspired by his practice of Tibetan Buddhism.

I Heard God Laughing
Daniel Ladinsky
Penguin Books (2006)

This anthology of poems by the great Persian mystic Hafiz is a companion volume to the author’s acclaimed The Gift: Poems of Hafiz. Ladinsky wonderfully captures the essence of one of Islam’s greatest poets and spiritual voices.

Love’s Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition
David and Sabrineh Fideler
New World Library (2006)

Working from original Persian sources, the translators offer faithful renditions of major Sufi poets including Rumi, Hafiz and Sanai. The poems explore many aspects of human life and the spiritual path, but they center on the liberating power of love.

A Year with Hafiz
Daniel Ladinsky
Penguin Books (2011)

The poems of the great 14th century Sufi master Hafiz are presented by Daniel Ladinsky as a series of daily contemplations. The poems are both deeply reverent and full of exuberance, joy, laughter and longing for the divine splendor of the universe.

Sky Above, Great Wind
Kazuaki Tanahashi
Shambhala (2012)

Zen master Ryokan is one of the most popular and revered poets in Japanese history. The spirited translation by Kazuaki Tanahashi captures the humanity, humour, love of children and deep spiritual insight of this remarkable poet.

Sweet Sorrows: Selected Poems of Attar
Vraje Abramian
Hohm Press (2013)

The Persian-born Attar is considered one of the greatest classical Sufi masters and mystical poets. This sensitive translation of selected poems captures Attar’s great love of humanity and deep perception of the oneness of all life.

The Power of Enlightenment: Chinese Zen Poems
Wu Yansheng
Better Link Press (2014)

The collection spans a period of 1500 years and embodies the essence of Chinese Zen or Ch’an as it reveals the nature of our true self and the world in a spiritual light. Translator Professor Wu Yansheng provides a comprehensive foreword and commentaries which describe each poem’s context and illuminates the deep spiritual message which often lies beneath the surface.