Jul 27 2012

Colin Oliver – Here I see no-one

Published by at 8:30 am under Poetry

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

England (1946 – )
Secular or Eclectic
Yoga / Hindu : Advaita / Non-Dualist

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).

More poetry by Colin Oliver

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Colin Oliver – Here I see no-one”

  1. rena navonon 27 Jul 2012 at 11:47 am

    There is some paradox throwing my understanding: a shadow is too difficult to grasp.
    An illusion you say? I see it rather as a provocation to seek further, at the risk of complexity or even loss.

  2. Lauraon 27 Jul 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Interesting—I looked at the photograph that accompanied the haiku and saw the shadow in the shape of the rose, so immediately thought that the thing that’s casting the shadow is the sun/ Son; the unseen, that can show us both our “rose” and “shadow” sides.

  3. Sylviaon 27 Jul 2012 at 3:03 pm

    I really enjoyed your extra comments about the language and structure of the poem. They took me deeper in as well as being inherently interesting to me. Thanks and love, Sylvia

  4. Gregory Travison 28 Jul 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks Ivan.

    This haiku reminds me that when I become too self-conscious, I miss all the wonders that are right in front of me.


  5. Zoe Durga Harberon 29 Jul 2012 at 9:37 am

    Hello. I was struck with the juxtapositions at the beginning end. The poem seems to allude to the truth that there is only apparent reality in empty phenomena. The author sees “no-one” yet the reader feels uneasy unless there is a “something” to cast a shadow. The joke however is that in this phenomenal world, a shadow is one of the only “things” that is accepted as nothing, as simply an appearance of something. The “no-one” seen is the inherent beauty of all created and non-created. The author is able to see the beauty on the leaves in it’s duality of appearance and non-appearance (shadow) The initial “here” could refer to the experience if everyday awareness. When we are in our routine identity of “I” we see the world differently than when we are transcended. Here, in our everyday, we see no-one but another time we may see the Divine in the petal. “This” petal and “this” shadow imply an acquaintance with the continuous changeability of experience and viewpoint. Each time we see a rose and it’s shadow is a new wondrous event with unique insights and never-before-seen beauty. Finally, for me the final line brought forth a sad and longing feeling. The beauty of the rose is ephemeral. The shadow is an inevitable accompaniment to all ecstatic experience. Thanks and thank you for your wonderful poetry. Durga

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply