Jul 27 2012
Here I see no-one
by Colin Oliver
Here I see no-one
to cast, on the petals of
this rose, this shadow.
— from Stepping Into Brilliant Air, by Colin Oliver
/ Photo by audreyjm529 /
Didn’t we have another rose poem recently? Here’s one more for our collection…
I really like this haiku by the British nondualist poet Colin Oliver, but you may need to read it more than once to finally recognize what he’s implying.
Like most haiku, these lines use a simple image of nature that works literally and, at the same time, hints at a more transcendent meaning. The rose here can be read as a rose, but we might also see the rose as the awakened heart.
The poet says he sees “no-one to cast … this shadow.” Well, the shadow, of course, is cast by himself. But there is no one there. He is speaking from the nondualist perspective in which the Self is recognized as being everywhere, but the individual self, the little self that dwells within the body is found to be imaginary, a phantom, unreal.
The rose, in other words, can be recognized as the seat of the true, undivided Self. There may be the appearance of a separated identity that seems to cast a shadow upon it — yet, on further investigation, nothing is there to cast the shadow. The rose is all. The shadow is merely an illusion.
A few other random notes…
That beginning word — “Here” — is so strong that it stops us before we’ve taken our first step and roots us in the present moment.
Let me also say, from a purely esthetic point-of-view, I love how the language is constructed so we end up with that pairing in the last line:
this rose, this shadow
Colin Oliver lives with his wife in a rural community in England. He says of his writing, “Much of my poetry flows from an experience of at-one-ness with the world. A blend of observation and imagination bring the subjects of poems to me, but I’m keen to distill my work through the craft of writing. I’m also a great reader of poetry from different cultures and would name Rumi, Basho, Han Shan and Emily Dickinson as some of the poets who inspire me.”
His poetry has been published in various magazines, mostly in the United Kingdom. He has also had some books published, including Stepping Into Brilliant Air (available from The Sholland Trust or Amazon UK).