Armfuls of Poetry, Drops of Sunshine – a poem of Thich Nhat Hanh


Sunshine rides on space and poetry on sunshine.
Poetry gives birth to sunshine, and sunshine to poetry.

Sun treasured in the heart of the bitter melon,
poetry made of steam rising from a bowl of soup in Winter.
The wind is lurking outside, swirling.
Poetry is back to haunt the old hills and prairies.
Yet the poor thatched hut remains on the river shore, waiting.

Spring carries poetry in its drizzle.
The fire sparkles poetry in its orange flame.

Sunshine stored in the heart of the fragrant wood,
warm smoke leading poetry back to the pages
of an unofficial history book.
Sunshine, though absent from space,
fills the now rose-colored stove.

Sunshine reaching out takes the color of smoke;
poetry in its stillness, the color of the misty air.

Spring rain holds poetry in its drops
which bend down to kiss the soil,
so that the seeds may sprout.
Following the rain, poetry comes to dwell on each leaf.
Sunshine has a green color, and poetry a pink one.
Bees deliver warmth to the flowers from the sunshine
they carry on their wings.
On sunshine footsteps to the deep forest,
poetry drinks the nectar with joy.
With the excitement of celebration,
butterflies and bees crowd the Earth.
Sunshine makes up the dance, and poetry the song.

Drops of sweat fall on the hard ground.
Poems fly along the furrows.
The hoe handily on my shoulder,
poetry flows from the breath.
Sunshine wanes away down the river,
and the silhouette of the late afternoon lingers reluctantly.
Poetry is leaving for the horizon
where the King of Light is blanketing himself in clouds.

A green sun found in a basketful of fresh vegetables,
a tasty and well-cooked sun smells delicious in a bowl of rice.
Poetry looks with a child’s eyes.
Poetry feels with a weather-beaten face.
Poetry stays within each attentive look.
Poetry—the hands that work the poor and arid land somewhere
far away.

The smiling sun brightening up the sunflower;
the ripe and full sun hiding itself in an August peach;
poetry follows each meditative step,
poetry lines up the pages.

within closed food packages,
poetry nurtures love.


This poem, translated from the Vietnamese by Hoang Thi Van, has a lot 
of interbeing in it. The sun is green, because you can recognize it in the vegetables. Poetry is born from the wood that is burning in the stove. Without it, I cannot write. The last lines of the poem speak about the work of helping hungry children. We have used this poem as a New Year’s greeting. (from “Call me by My True Names  – The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh”, Parallax Press, 2005.)

Thay gave a dharma talk on this poem in May 2002 in Plum Village. To read the transcript published in Mindfulness Bell: Dharma Talk: Armfuls of Poetry, Drops of Sunshine


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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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