Monday, July 26, 2010

"Chinese Poems of Enlightenment and Death"

I was rereading a book I hadn't read in ages: Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter.

The translators are Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto.

Poets in the ancient world didn't have television to help them die.

So I guess nature was their television.

The final channel-flipping yields the crystallized flat screen of the "death poem."

Which is, hopefully, enlightened.

I was thinking how some Italian-American slang might help a few of these poems, which tend to cloy after one has seen the same revelation occur for the nth time.

Translations are by the authors mentioned above, with the exception of the endings.


ITALIAN-AMERICAN POEMS OF ENLIGHTENMENT AND DEATH


KAIGEN:

The old master held up fluff
And blew from his palm,
Revealing the Source itself.
Badda-Bing!



LAYMAN YAKUSAI:


A deafening peal,
A thief escaped
My body. What
Have I learnt?
The Lord of Nothingness,
Joey Bag O'Donuts.




KEPPO:


Searching Him took
My strength.
One night I bent
My pointing finger--
Shake-a-la-dots.



REITO:

Ox bridle tossed, vows taken,
I'm robed and shaven clean.
You ask why Bodhidarma came east--
Fugeddaboutit!



SHOFU:


No dust speck anywhere.
What's old? new?
At home on my blue mountain,
Some chooch!




SEIGEN-YUHN:


How vast karma,
Yet what's there
To cling to? Last night,
Turning, I was blinded--
Vinnie Boombots.




DANGAI:

Earth, river, mountain:
Snowflakes melt in air.
How could I have doubted?
Buttagots!




SOZAN-KYONIN (9TH CENTURY?):


A rootless tree,
Yellow leaves scattering
Beyond the blue--
Fugayzi!

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