Themes in Spring-Watching Pavilion

Themes Examples in Spring-Watching Pavilion:

Spring-Watching Pavilion 9

"Nirvana is here..."   (Spring-Watching Pavilion)

Read from an additional angle, “here” may point back to the poem itself. The suggestion then would be that the divine can be found through the poetic act. This is a common theme in poetry from numerous traditions and cultures. Poetry raises the ordinary to the extraordinary and transforms suffering into beauty and grace.

"Nirvana is here..."   (Spring-Watching Pavilion)

Taken literally, the final line may claim that nirvana is nearly always found in solitude and nature, the “here” referring to the pavilion of the title. The other 10% of the time it can be found elsewhere, perhaps in society or amidst the rituals of Buddhism.

"cannot be emptied..."   (Spring-Watching Pavilion)

The notion that the sea “cannot be emptied” represents a reassurance against the negative effects of organized religions and their “bells.” As the speaker sees it, while traditions such as Buddhism may detract from one’s experience of the divine, the divine is nonetheless always present in full force. It “cannot be emptied.”

"Love’s vast sea..."   (Spring-Watching Pavilion)

This line directly expresses the poem’s central conceit: the divine—expressed by Balaban as the word “Love”—as an endless body of water. The speaker’s claim is that the divine is all around, a “vast sea” for which one need not search.

"upside-down in sad puddles..."   (Spring-Watching Pavilion)

This second stanza introduces the poem’s central metaphor of the divine as water. In these lines, Ho critiques organized religion through the images of bells creating waves. In John Balaban’s translation, these waves divert the divine water, turning it into “sad puddles” that reflect “heaven upside-down.” The speaker’s claim is that following organized religion leads to a diminished and distorted encounter with the divine.

"Three times..."   (Spring-Watching Pavilion)

The described sound of the bell tolling introduces a sharp contrast to the “gentle” tone established in the first stanza. The tonal shift suggests that organized religion with its attendant rituals is merely a disruption to true spiritual experience. This is the poem’s main claim.

"echoes like a wave..."   (Spring-Watching Pavilion)

Though we cannot know whether the “echoes” of the bells appear in Ho’s original poem, Balaban’s word choice bears significance. The "echoes" evoke the repetitious quality of the bell's sound as it might reverberate in waves across a town or swath of countryside, an effect which draws the reader more deeply into the world of the poem. The word also ascribes a pervasive quality to organized religion. If the bells represent organized religion, the echoes represent the wide-reaching, nearly inescapable influence of religion.

"airily..."   (Spring-Watching Pavilion)

The contrast between the adverbs “airily” and “worldly” establishes the poem’s central interest in spiritual experience. The contrast also underscores the speaker’s identity as an outsider, her sense of removal from the world.

"spring evening arrives..."   (Spring-Watching Pavilion)

In solitude, the speaker contemplates a “spring evening.” The setting is key to the poem’s central theme: the search for spiritual transcendence. While the pavilion in the poem’s title evokes a rural scene, the “spring evening” does not occur in a specific location. It “arrives/airily,” suggesting that enlightenment is portable, more contingent on a state of being than a setting.