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The Journey to the West

Though we journey to the West We pray to the East More or less that's the way Each day begins and ends It’s a tale everyone ...

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Poem for the End of Summer

Where are you?
A cricket cries
Again and again
Under the light
Of the waxing moon

Over here
Comes the
Irregular reply
From the edge of
My perceptual field

Above the fan's
Whoosh and whir
Ever so faintly I feel
The heavens wheeling

The still point
Of the turning world
Is turning still
Every cycle and season has
Its beginning middle and end
Over parsecs and eons
Of continual forgetting
Every something becomes
Nothing and soon enough
Becomes something again

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Nature's First and Last Green is Golden

Nature's first and last green is gold
The hue to which all life is beholden
With eyes open or closed the warmth
Within and without unfolds
From seed to flower to sheaf
Howsoever it may seem brief
We are transported beyond
The confines of a single season
As from dawn to dusk to dawn
It is gold alone that endures

Vincent van Gogh, Soir d'été, 1888.

This poem is in reply to Robert Frost's poem which I have copied below.  Much as I admire Frost's poem I think he rather misses the point, which Van Gogh captured on a summer night altogether much more clearly.

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf’s a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief;
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay

Saturday, September 8, 2018

A Poem for the New Moon (by Jiao Ran)

There are quite a few great Tang poems written to or about the moon, Li Bai's Drinking Alone in the Moonlight and Li He's cycle of twelve lunar poems being perhaps among the best known.  Here's a little gem by Jiao Ran that I came across this morning, which strikes me as somewhat unique -- a tribute to the new moon or the moon that isn't there.  Being on the verge of a new moon and a new lunar year, now seems as good a time as any to publish it here on my blog.

Poem for the Mountain Moon

Night after night
An old man
Always takes faith
In the mountain moon
Tonight the old man arrives
But the mountain moon
Is nowhere to be seen

* * * * 




It may be worth mentioning that Jiao Ran, in addition to being a poet, was a Buddhist monk, so I don't think it's overreaching to suggest that this poem can be read in a spiritual light, or perhaps better said, in the murk of the lack thereof. 


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Meditation Poem (by Shih Te)

This is one of the best meditation poems I've come across yet in the Chan tradition.  It is attributed to Shih Te, who according to legend was the occasional sidekick of Han Shan, the otherwise reclusive poet of Cold Mountain fame.  There are those who doubt whether there ever was such as person as Shih Te or Han Shan for that matter.  But reading this poem I have little doubt that whoever wrote it spent many long hours sitting in meditation, on a mountaintop or otherwise, open to the radiance that fills the earth and sky.

Not going not coming
But upright and deeply rooted

Residing neither inside nor outside
But somewhere in between

Like a drop of water
Unblemished and contained

Yet open to the radiance
That fills Heaven and humankind