Monday, July 25, 2005

Ryokan: Two Poems

You stop to point at the moon in the sky,
but the finger's blind unless the moon is shining.

One moon, one careless finger pointing --
are these two things or one?

The question is a pointer guiding
a novice from ignorance thick as fog.

Look deeper. The mystery calls and calls:
no moon, no finger -- nothing there at all.


I never longed for the wilder side of life.
Rivers and mountains were my friends.

Clouds consumed my shadow where I roamed,
and birds pass high above my resting place.

Straw sandals in snowy villages,
a walking stick in spring,

I sought a timeless truth: the flower's glory
is just another form of dust.

[Translations by Sam Hamill, from A Dragon in the Clouds]

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