The Zen Poems of Ryokan by Nobuyuki Yuasa

By Nobuyuki Yuasa

A poet-priest of the overdue Edo interval, Ryokan (1758-1831) used to be an important jap poet of his age. This quantity comprises not just the most important English translation but made from his vital poems, but in addition an advent that units the poetry in its historic and literary context and a biographical caricature of the poet himself.

Originally released in 1981.

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Iizuka Hisatoshi has a different version in his Tachibana Monovatari written in 1843. In his youth, before he renounced the world, he was a great lover. He loved a woman so earnestly that he wanted her pledge of eternal love. One night, he went to her, but long before the first cockcrow, returned home, and straight away cut off his hair. 28 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Oka Kamon, writing in 1888, has another version. Ryokan became an official, following his father. One day a senior official advised him on how to mediate between the high and the low by saying he could maintain neutrality only by using a certain amount of cunning.

O f the letters Ryokan wrote to him, thirteen are extant. Here is a famous one about the earthquake that took place in 1828: The earthquake was a big disaster, but nothing happened at my cottage. It was a relief to know that no one was killed among “y our relatives. Far better it were To surrender my whole life Than abide so lone, BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 39 So long indeed as to watch Such a blight come upon us. However, when a disaster comes, we must go through it, just as when death comes we will be better off by going through it.

Two visitors who came from faraway places must be mentioned. First, there was Omura Mitsue, a poet and student of Kamo no Mabuchi, who visited Ryokan from Edo and left the following account of his visit: I visited a man of rare virtue at Mt. Kugami. At his cottage, I wrote late at night: Behind the low hill Where we gathered anise twigs, Alas, the moon has set, And the pine-wood door is dark. Come, let us lie down to sleep, Early the following morning, when I was about to depart from his cottage, my host detained me with the following poem: In the shady grove Outside my pine-built cottage, Ram began to fall, drizzling.

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