Friday, November 27, 2015

Bruce Lee's Poetry

Bruce Lee would've been 75 years old today. 

In his honor, I'm posting some of his poetry. 7 poems from "Bruce Lee: Artist of Life" edited by John Little. There are 17 more poems in it. 3 other poems from sources as noted.


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Into a soul absolutely free
From thoughts and emotion,
Even the tiger finds no room
To insert its fierce claws.

One and the same breeze passes
Over the pines on the mountain
And the oak trees in the valley;
And why do they give different notes?

No thinking, no reflecting,
Perfect emptiness;
Yet therein something moves,
Following its own course.

The eye sees it,
But no hands can take hold of it—
The moon in the stream.

Clouds and mists,
They are midair transformations;
Above them eternally shine the sun and the moon.

Victory is for the one,
Even before the combat,
Who has no thought of himself,
Abiding in the no-mind-ness of Great Origin.

Source:  Tao of Jeet Kune Do (1975), page 2


Black clouds,
Fallen blossoms and pale moon,
The hurried flight of birds
The arrival of lonely Autumn
The time for us to part.

The clouds above are floating across the sky
Swiftly, swiftly passing,
Or blending together.

Much has been said, yet we have not
Come to the end of our feelings.
Long must be this parting, and
Remember, remember that all
My thoughts have always been of you.

The good time will probably never come back again.
In a moment—our parting will be over.
When days are short and dull nights long

Read this poem I leave you, read it
When the silence of the world possesses you,
Or when you are fretted with disquiet.
Long must be this parting, and
Remember, remember that all
My thoughts have always been of you.

Source: Bruce Lee’s handwritten poem entitled “Rain.” Bruce Lee Papers. (Artist of Life, page 93)


The dying sun lies sadly in the far horizon.
The autumn wind blows mercilessly;
The yellow leaves fall.

From the mountain peak,
Two streams parted unwillingly,

One to the West, one to the East.
The sun will rise again in the morning.
The leaves will be green again in spring.
But must we be like the mountain stream,
Never to meet again?

Source: Bruce Lee’s handwritten poem entitled “The Dying Sun.” Bruce Lee Papers. (Artist of Life, page 95)


For a moment
The surrounding utters no sound.
Time ceases.
The Paradise of Dreams come true.

Source: Bruce Lee’s handwritten poem. Bruce Lee Papers. (Artist of Life, page 100)


Young man,
Seize every minute
Of your time.

The days fly by;
Ere long you too
Will grow old.

If you believe me not,
See there, in the courtyard,
How the frost
Glitters white and cold and cruel
On the grass that once was green.

Do you not see
That you and I
Are as the branches
Of one tree?

With your rejoicing,
Comes my laughter;
With your sadness
Start my tears.

Could life be otherwise
With you and me?

Source: A poem entitled “The Frost,” by Tzu-yeh, that was translated by Bruce Lee. (Artist of Life, page 110)


The wind is in high frolic with the rain.
Outside the garden a little yellow leaf
Clinging desperately to its mother branch.

I pick up the leaf
And put it in the book,
Giving it a home.

Source: Bruce Lee’s handwritten poem. Bruce Lee Papers. (Artist of Life, page 111)


Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon.

And so the time flies hopefully
Although she’s far away.

Other thoughts may come and go,
But the thought of you,
Remains deeply in my heart.

Source: Bruce Lee’s handwritten poem. Bruce Lee Papers. (Artist of Life, page 112)

Jeff Cooper as Cord in Circle of Iron (1978)
Click for larger pic


I wish neither to possess,
Nor to be possessed.
I no longer covet paradise,
More important, I no longer fear hell.

The medicine for my suffering
I had within me from the very beginning,
But I did not take it.
My ailment came from within myself,
But I did not observe itUntil this moment.

Now I see that I will never find the light
Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel,
Consuming myself.

Source: “Cord’s closing speech,” quoted from Bruce Lee’s copy of the script of The Silent Flute, written by Bruce Lee, dated October 19, 1970. Bruce Lee Papers. (Artist of Life, page 113)

These next 2 poems were in a letter from Bruce Lee to Jhoon Rhee.

Who am I?

Who am I?
That is the age-old question
Asked by every man
At one time or another.

Though he looks into a mirror
And recognizes the face,
Though he knows his own name
And age and history,
Still he wonders, deep down,
Who am I?

Am I a giant among men,
Master of all I survey,
Or an ineffectual pygmy
Who clumsily blocks his own way?

Am I the self-assured gentleman
With a winning style,
The natural born leader
Who makes friends instantly,
Or the frightened heart
Tiptoeing among strangers,
Who, behind a frozen smile, trembles
Like a little boy lost in a dark forest?

Most of us yearn to be one,
But fear we are the other.
Yet we CAN be
What we aspire to be.

Those who cultivate
Their natural instincts,
Who set their sights
On the good, the admirable, the excellent,
And believe they can achieve it
Will find their confidence rewarded.

And, in the process,
They will discover the true identity
Of him who looks back from the mirror.

Which Are You?

 The doubters said,
“Man cannot fly.”
The doers said,
“Maybe, but we’ll try,”
And finally soared
Into the morning’s glow,
While nonbelievers
Watched from below.

The doubters claimed
The world was flat.
Ships plunged over its edge,
And that was that!

Yet a brand new world
Some doers found,
And returned to prove
This planet round.

The doubters knew
’Twas fact, “Of course,
No noisy gadget
Would e’er replace the horse.”

Yet the carriages
Of doers, sans equine,
Came to traverse
All our roads in time.

But [to] those who kept saying
“It can’t be done,”
Never are the victories
Or the honors won.
But, rather,
By the believing, doing kind,
While the doubters
Watched from far behind.

Source:  Bruce Lee's handwritten letter to Jhoon Rhee. Jhoon Rhee Archives. (Artist of Life, pages 254-255)

This next poem is not written by Bruce Lee. He liked it so much, he wrote a copy of it. 

Click for super large pic

Thinking by Walter D. Wintle
(also known as "The Man Who Thinks He Can")

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but you think you can't,
It is almost a cinch that you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you're lost;
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are;
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can!

SOURCE:  From my research, this Bruce Lee handwritten unsigned poem was auctioned in June 2010 and sold for $12,756.00!

Please check out these selected Bruce Lee-related entries...

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