Friday, January 30, 2015

Eighty-Five


しゅんえほうし

よもすがら
ものおもうころは
あけやらぬ

ねやのひまさえ
つれなかりけり





85

Shunye Hoshi (monk)

Now — as through the night
Longingly I pass the hours,
And the day's dawn lags –

Even my windowshades
Heartless are to me.







85

Come home from
sesshin, he
has arranged his affairs.

In his room, only
mat and pillow;
from window

only views.
He has one 
complaint: I never

get mail.






Notes

Shunye has lived almost his entire life as a monk. Celibacy has not always been a big part of Japanese monasticism, so the poem could be about longing for companionship or longing for a better world. And who has not awakened at false dawn and felt insignificant in the face of so much darkness? It is a wide world and it does not much consider us.

The Old Nurse may be thinking of relationships as she shows a high-born lady awakening at pre-dawn alone and rising only to observe the chilly new moon. What is she thinking or experiencing in this moment?

Risa's energetically intellectual friend goes to Japan for Zen training, and returns to Oregon to work from his house, which is sparsely furnished, cool and rather dark inside, like eternal night. He remarks, as they near the entrance, that his mailbox is always empty. Is he being plaintive or ironic? She can't tell.


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