Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Shitou’s Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage

Shitou - known as Sekito Kisen in Japanese - was an 8th century Chinese monk, a student of Huineng and Huineng's successor, Qingyuan Xingsi (Seigen Gyoshi). He is credited with writing two of the most famous Zen poems in China - the Sandokai and this, the Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage. The beauty of… Continue reading Shitou’s Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage

American Poetry, Poetry

Jane Hirshfield’s “A Carbon-Based Life Form”

New York-born poet Jane Hirshfield studied Zen at the San Francisco Zen Center and at the monastery in Tassajara for a total of eight years before going on to garner a host of accolades for her poetry writing and editorial work.   "A Carbon-Based Life Form" A person tired from happiness grows sober. Another, worn… Continue reading Jane Hirshfield’s “A Carbon-Based Life Form”

American Poetry, Poetry

Gary Snyder – For Nothing

Zen student, poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder's Turtle Island, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1975. For Nothing is one of the poems in this book that present a vision of rediscovery of the north American continent whereby its inhabitants cease to behave as colonizers but rather as natives.    Earth a… Continue reading Gary Snyder – For Nothing

Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Muso’s Green Mountains

Muso Soseki was a Japanese monk born in the 13th century who achieved satori at the age of 30 while staying in a hermitage in the countryside. One night he was walking about in the dark and reached out for a wall he thought was there. When he realized it wasn't, he gave a great… Continue reading Muso’s Green Mountains

Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Swift Clouds and the Jewel Hare

This short poem by an 11th century Chinese poet called Gen of Kohoin is written as an uncomplaining, almost joyful anticipation of death. The Jewel Hare he refers to in the last line is a classic image for the moon, after the myth of the rabbit on the moon's face.   At ninety-nine, snowy side-locks,… Continue reading Swift Clouds and the Jewel Hare

Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Look Beyond the Town Gate at the Mounds Below the Pines

Cold Mountain (Han Shan) was a Chinese poet and hermit who wrote his poetry 1,200 years ago on the rocks, trees and temple walls of the Tientai Mountains where he lived. He was a Taoist and a Buddhist and though he was never critically acclaimed as a great poet, he's become a much loved persona… Continue reading Look Beyond the Town Gate at the Mounds Below the Pines

Chinese Poetry, Poetry

Occasional Poem on an Autumn Day

Ch'eng Hao was one of the leading poets and teachers of neo-Confucianism in China in the 11th century and this poem reflects his philosophy that all things are an inextricable part of the Tao, which is also to say the mind.    When I'm at peace, I let everything go I wake by the east… Continue reading Occasional Poem on an Autumn Day

American Poetry, Poetry

William Stafford’s Looking Across the River

Kansas-born poet William Stafford's verses are simple, direct moments of contemplation that take their cue from nature and marvel at mystery. A pacifist and a conscientious objector to the Second World War, Stafford worked in outdoor work camps during the war before later moving to Oregon and falling under the spell of the American West.… Continue reading William Stafford’s Looking Across the River

Chinese Poetry, Chinese Texts, Poetry

The Hsin Hsin Ming

The Hsin Hsin Ming, known as the Shinjinmei in Japan, is attributed to Master Sengcan (Kanchi Sosan in Japanese), the third ancestor in China. One of the earliest Zen teaching poems from China, the Hsin Hsin Ming emphasizes that the Great Way is not involved in the game of opposites, and that in order to… Continue reading The Hsin Hsin Ming