Sunday, January 22, 2006

My Bowl is Full This Morning

Today's poetry is from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan, edited and trans. by John Stevens (Shambhala, 1996).

Late at night I draw my inkstone close;
Flushed with wine, I put my worn brush to paper.
I want my brushwork to bear the same fragrance as plum blossoms,
And even though old I will try harder than anyone.


Sometimes I sit quietly,
Listening to the sound of falling leaves.
Peaceful indeed is the life of a monk,
Cut off frfom all worldly matters.
Then why do I shed these tears?

I'm so aware
That it's all unreal:
One by one, the things
Of this world pass on.
But why do I still grieve?



Your smoky village is not so far from here
But icy rain kept me captive all morning.
Just yesterday, it seems, we passed an evening together discussing poetry
But it's really been twenty windblown days.
I've begun to copy the text you lent me,
Fretting how weak I've become.
This letter seals my promise to take my staff
And make my way through the steep cliffs
As soon as the sun melts the ice along the mossy path.


In Otogo Forest beneath Mount Kugami
You'll find the tiny hut where I pass my days.
Still no temples or villas for me!
I'd rather live with the fresh breezes and the bright moon,
Playing with the village children or making poems.
If you ask about me, you'll probably say,
"What is that foolish monk doing now?"


Along the hedge a few branches of golden mums;
Winter crows soar above the thick woods.
A thousand peaks glow brilliantly in the sunset,
And this monk returns home with a full bowl.



Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their poetry and announcements of Northern California poetry events to for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)