Part of the perks of being well-read is to have the right story, the right quote, the right poem, to meet any occasion. In the midst of the pandemic, the post office fiasco, the difficult beginning of school years, the California fires, the ongoing circus in Washington, this poem by David Budbill feels just right.
(Quick footnote: Issa was a Japanese haiku poet, sutras are Buddhist religious texts and “Life is suffering” is one of the first principles of Buddhism. None of which is vital to the sense of the poem, but might help a bit. Enjoy.)
Two hundred years ago, Issa heard the morning birds
singing sutras to this suffering world.
I heard them, too, this morning, which must mean,
Since we will always have a suffering world,
We must also always have a song.