Monday, October 17, 2011

Thanks, Mr. Wang Wei

When I was in college, I studied Japanese and Chinese Literature. My favorite for a year or so was Wang Wei, Chinese poet and painter in the 8th Century (Tang Dynasty). I often credit him and his cohorts--Li Po, Tu Fu, Cold Mountain, all the rest of those crazy Chinese poets and their Japanese brethren (Basho, Issa and that ilk) that came along later--with saving my life. They understood quite clearly that nothing is permanent, that everything was changing one moment to the next, including themselves. Here's a painting and two poems by Wang Wei.
--Bobby Kankin Byrd

A portrait of Fu Sheng by Wang Wei

Passing Hsiang-chi Temple

Oblivious, I pass Hsiang-chi Temple
walking on through mountain cloud,
an empty trail through ancient trees.
Deep in the mountains, a bell resounds.

The susurrus rivr flows among stones.
Sunlight streams through frozen pines.
In this still pool, in falling light
Zen overcomes the serpents of delusion.


When those red beans come in springtime,
Flushing on your southland branches,
Take home an armful, for my sake,
As a symbol of our love.
NOTE: "Passing Hsiang-chi Temple" from The Poetry of Zen translated by Sam Hamill and J.P. Seaton. "One-Hearted" copied and pasted from the Wikipedia page linked to above. 

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