Saturday, March 16, 2013

Assorted poems by Yamaoka Tesshu

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,
Mount Fuji's
Original form
Never changes

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 have
and you will pass safely through this world.

Over a few years
let intimacy
ripen naturally-
the number of friends will be small
but the quality will be very large

If your mind
is not projected
into your hands
even 10,000 techniques
will be useless.

Do not concentrate 
On striking your opponent. 
Deport yourself naturally 
Like moonbeams flooding 
Into 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:



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