I keep thinking that Buddhism is the history of a poetry.
While creating a catalog of the books currently in my possession (a project many years overdue), I came across a recent friend: Guru Rinpoche, by Ngawang Zangpo (Snow Lion Publications, 2002, Ithaca, NY) and remembered its Appendix 2: “Buddhism and Poetry,” which I stopped to re-read. Zangpo’s basic drift is that Buddhism and poetry are fundamentally intertwined. He gives many examples. He is better equipped than I to talk about the original texts. If the subject is of real interest to you, I suggest looking up his book.
But I’m going to take my own very brief and hurried stab at the subject, which has occupied my thoughts quite a lot over the years. Within that time frame, for the past 15 years, I’ve been a practitioner of several Tibetan Nyingma Tantric sadhanas. The primary literary feature all of these sadhanas have in common is that they’re all poems written in formal verse along with melodies that are orally transmitted with the triple purpose of being philosophically complete, aesthetically satisfying, and easy to memorize.