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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Japanese Death Poems

So Snyder gets on to Dead Beat.

"If you are going to talk about Death," he chides, "don't leave out the Japanese Death poems. Got that Dead Beat."

"I hear you Gary. I am always listening out for you."

So Dead Beat offers these up:

Hosshin, 13th century

Coming, all is clear,
no doubt about it.
Going, all is clear,
without a doubt.

What, then, is all?

Shoro, died April 1894, at age 80

Pampas grass, now dry,
once bent this way
and that.

Goku Kyonen, died October 8, 1272, at age 56

The truth embodied in
the Buddhas

Of the future, present,

The teaching we
received from the

Fathers of our faith

Can be found at the tip
of my stick.

Gesshu Soko, died January 10, 1696, at age 79

Inhale, exhale

Forward, back

Living, dying:

Arrows, let flown each to each

Meet midway and slice

The void in aimless flight --

Thus I return to the source.

Shinsui, died September 9, 1769, at 49


During his last moment, Shisui's followers requested that he write a death poem. He grasped his brush, painted a circle, cast the brush aside, and died.
The circle is one of the most important symbols of Zen Buddhism. It indicates void -- the essence of all things -- and enlightenment

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