Lesson
33

Ryokan, Basho and
Japanese Zen Poetry

7 of 7

Japanese Zen Poetry

Coming, going, the waterfowl
Leaves not a trace,
Nor does it need a guide.

Dogen

I Hate Incense
A master's handiwork cannot be measured
But still priests wag their tongues explaining the "Way" and babbling about "Zen."
This old monk has never cared for false piety
And my nose wrinkles at the dark smell of incense before the Buddha.

Ikkyu

Dew of the bramble,
Thorns
sharp white.

Buson

In this world of dreams,
dozing off still more;
and again speaking
and dreaming of dreams.
Just let it be.

Ryokan

Invaluable is the Soto Way—
Why be discipline's slave?
SNapping the golden chain.
Step boldly toward the sunset!

Gasan

Through night after night
The moon is star-reflected,
Try to find where it has touched,
Point even to the shadow.

Takuan

The moon's the same old moon,
The flowers exactly as they were,
Yet I've become the thingness
Of all the things I see!

Bunan

That man's life is but a dream—
is what we now come to know.
It's house abandoned,
the garden has become home to butterflies.

Sogi

Past, present, future: unattainable,
Yet clear as the moteless sky.
Late at night the stool's cold as iron,
But the moonlit window smells of plum.

Hakuin