Continuing my series on poems which may inspire you to pursue poetry writing or one of the other Arts, today's entry is on Yamaoka Tesshu. He was considered one of Japan's greatest swordsmen. Not only was his skill with the sword superb, his poetry was just as good. Here are a few:
On Training and Enlightenment:
For years I forged my spirit through the study of swordsmanship,
Confronting every challenge steadfastly.
The walls surrounding me suddenly crumbled;
Like pure dew reflecting the world in crystal clarity, total awakening has now come.
Using thought to analyze reality is illusion;
If preoccupied with victory and defeat all will be lost.
The secret of swordsmanship?
Lightning slashes the spring wind!
Mt. Fuji is the subject of his most famous poem and is a classic:
Perfect when clear,
Perfect when cloudy,
Some Doka (Songs of the Way):
Do not desire money,do not depend on empty principles,do not seek fame:just go with what you haveand you will pass safely through this world.
Over a few yearslet intimacyripen naturally-the number of friends will be smallbut the quality will be very large
If your mindis not projectedinto your handseven 10,000 techniqueswill be useless.
Do not concentrateOn striking your opponent.Deport yourself naturallyLike moonbeams floodingInto a leaky cottage.
He knew he was dying and he composed this Death Poem:
Tightening my abdomen
against the pain.
The caw of a morning crow.
Now get to it... starting composing some poems!
If you missed the other entries in this series, please check out:
- "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley
- "The Man in the Arena" by Theodore Roosevelt
- "If" by Rudyard Kipling
- "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann