Category Archives: poetry

Bhagavad-Gita translated by Stephen Mitchell

Bhagavad Gita

Highly recommended! If Eastern religious thought is not your thing, then this may not be the book for you. That being said, it is a wonderfully poetic translation of this sacred Hindu text. The translator does well not to lose any of the text’s ancient power as it is translated into English. The text reads beautifully– not to mention it contains meaningful (and practical) advice on living well. Gandhi himself mentioned the Bhagavad-Gita as a major source of his inspiration!

Peace & Love,

Availability: USMAI, SMCM, COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jeanette Warren
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: A translated book.

Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu (tr. by Le Guin)

Tao Te ChingTao te Ching (pronounced Dow Day Jeeng), was written by Lao Tzu (Low-dsuh) and translated by Ursula K. Le Guin.

OK so there are tons of translations of the Tao te Ching, and while this one is not my favorite, the book itself is a wonderful way (haha, get it, Tao means “The Way”) to gain a more mindful approach at life. It is actually a collection of ancient poetry written more than 2500 years ago by a man attempting to lead people to a more mindful, meaningful way of life– one that is harmonious with the natural rhythms of the Earth. One of my favorite excerpts: “The Way never does anything, / and everything gets done… In stillness all under heaven rests” (p.37).

Peace & Love.

Availability: USMAI,
Review Submitted by: Jeanette Warren
Rating: Highly recommended
Challenge: A translated book.

The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Richard Fagles


I was inspired to read The Odyssey for the first time since high school after encountering Daniel Mendohlson’s recent essay in The New Yorker ( Mendolsohn wrote about teaching an undergraduate course on the epic poem with his elderly father as one of the students, and his subsequent trip with his father on an Odyssey-themed cruise through the Mediterranean. The essay touched on themes of age, fatherhood, and heroism.

I had vague memories of enjoying the poem as a 9th grader, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the work now. The dynamic of the story is timeless (I though a lot about Odysseus’ journey home, where his loved ones feared he was dead, as I watched the final episodes of The Leftovers on HBO). Fagles’ translation brilliantly humanizes the characters, and he lavishes the reader with tactile language about how it felt to live in that world: the sound of ships scudding along the water, the feel of a leather sandal strap, the sting of smoke from a fire.

I enjoyed mulling over questions of loyalty, filial duty, and what heroism means if a human’s life is merely a pawn of the gods. Can a hero assume credit for his or her victories? Or is heroism nothing more than continuing on in the face of powers far beyond one’s control?

Availability:  COSMOS, SMCM, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Michael Dunn
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: Translation