Material on poetry in the Pāli Canon

What lectures or books would you point someone towards who is interested in learning more about poetry in the Pāli Canon? Besides simply handing them a competent Dhammapada [edit: or Thig or Thag or Snp or…] translation, what else would you recommend?

[edit: In short, are there on any good books about (as opposed to of) Pali Poetry?]



Sorry if this falls under the dhammapada…
I’m on my phone, not sure how to correctly add a link so I’m just pasting it.

I haven’t read this, just came up on Google:

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Sorry, yeah… it does. I guess I should have been more specific.

So, just to be crystal clear: I am not looking for translations of Pali poetry. I am looking for material which explains, contextualizes, and analyzes Pāli poetry.

[I’ve edited the OP to clarify.]

For example, Thanissaro Bhikkhu has a couple wonderful short explanations (I think in his introductions) where he explains, e.g. the “lamp” device or the use of Brahmanical allusions.

Maybe you find this interesting: Eviatar Shulman - The Aṭṭhakavagga as Buddhist poetry


You might be interested in An Outline of the Metres in the Pāḷi Canon by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

Also Pali Metre by AK Warder is available for free at


Poetry used to indicate psychological subjects (devas, brahmas):
“poetical imagery or allegorization is more the domain of poetry and hence not to be expected in prose sermons. That is precisely why almost all the accounts of Maara’s temptations in the Paali Canon are in verse, fully or partially, and the conversations with Maara invariably are recorded in verse.”—“The Buddha’s Encounters With Mara the Tempter,” Guruge.

Thanks @Gabriel! This is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for :smile:

Interesting indeed! Bookmarked for future study when my Pāli is more up to snuff :blush: