Robert Pinsky: "Samurai Song"

Robert Pinsky’s Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux) was published in 2011. His previous books of poetry include Gulf Music (2008), Jersey Rain (2000), The Want Bone (1990) and The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996. His best-selling translation The Inferno of Dante (1994) was a Book-of-the-Month-Club Editor’s Choice, and received both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. His prose books include The Life of David (2005), The Situation of Poetry (1976) and The Sounds of Poetry (1998).
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Samurai Song

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.
When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.
When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.
When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.
When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.
When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.
Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.
 
 
Former poet laureate Robert Pinsky’s “Samurai Song” can be found in his Selected Poems, which is being published today in paperback by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

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