Friday, March 17, 2006

"I used to be fairly poor"

Farmer, Yokaichiba, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, March 1998, by Michael


I used to be fairly poor, as poor goes;
Today I hit the bottom of poverty and cold.
Nothing I do seems to come out right;
Wherever I go I get pushed around.
I walk the muddy road and my footsteps falter;
I sit with the other villagers and my stomach aches with hunger.
Since I lost the brindle cat,
The rats come right up and peer into the pot.

--Han Shan, Cold Mountain poems, No. 24

21 comments:

Oxeye said...

Michael, the Cold Mountain poems are wonderful. I haven't seen my book in a while. Your post makes me want to go look for it.

g said...

I have never lived in a cave that I can remember, but the words of Han Shan have always felt familiar to me.

Do you have a particular book or collection, or translation, that you like?

Patry Francis said...

A vivid and heartbreaking poem. Thanks for posting it.

amanzi said...

I saw a movie the other day called "The Twilight Samurai". It was quite good, and not the typical samurai movie... It is about a very poor samurai - this quote reminded me of the movie, and his character.

Somehow, in the expression of this poverty, there is no desperation - only noting what is happening.

Michael said...

Hi Oxeye, g, Patry,

Han Shan is one of my favorite poets. I usually don't post other people's works, either photographic or literary, on my blog, but Han Shan is a most welcome addition to any of my endeavors.
I like Gary Snyder's translations of several Han Shan poems. I also rely on Robert G. Henricks' translation, titled "The Poetry of Han-Shan: A complete, annotated translation of 'Cold Mountain'." The ISBN number, if you're interested, is ISBN 0-88706-978-9.

Hi Amanzi,
Thanks for your comments, and welcome to my blog! "Twilight Samurai" is one of my favorite Japanese movies. I'm lucky to have it on DVD. It shatters a lot of stereotypes and silly myths.

Phats said...

I have my 3 month check up tomorrow think good thoughts for me :) that's our deal remember! haha

Michael said...

Hey Phats,

I hope everything goes well and that you get an excellent report! Let me know how everything works out.

Mike Cross said...

What kind of a sad loser is it who posts up poems and photos like this? You call your blog Buddhist, but seem to profess no reverence for any particular Sangha, or Dharma-teacher. You just seem to be doing your own thing, going for long solitary walks in the cold, and crying out into the vacuum of cyberspace. On top of all that, you say that you are living with an incurable illness. What kind of an advertisement are you for the benefits of "Buddhist" practice?

Michael said...

My Dear Mike,

No sangha. No Dharma teacher. No Dharma to be taught. No advertisements. Nothing to advertise. No Buddhism. No Buddha. No practice. Nothing to practice. :)

Michael said...

P.S. I used to be fairly poor, as poor goes.

mrsbeach said...

Michael,
I want to thank you for sending Larry the digital piano. The kindness you have shown to a stranger says it all.
Words are easy to use, you can speak or write anything.
You have shown the goodness in your heart, by actions.
Your walks encourage my own daydreams.

thanks for the friendship,
beachy

Mike Cross said...

It's difficult, probably impossible, to really get to know someone just from blog exchanges. But it strikes me that you are an extreme example of a human being who is utterly without, the Buddha-nature. Sorry if this sounds harsh, Michael, but there it is.

Michael said...

Hi Mike,
Well, that may be. I don't know. Anyway, I have a life to live, philosophical ponderings aside.

Hi Beachy,
You're quite welcome! I hope Larry enjoys the piano. It would've just gathered dust on my dresser. Please stay in touch!

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phats said...

Hello Michael,
Well my check up is over for three months woohoo! Like you, I prefer the no news is good news method, they only call if something is wrong. Thanks for the thoughts :)

Michael said...

Excellent, Phats! Stay strong!

anu said...

Lovely poem you write and post Michael

Michael said...

Hi Anu,

Thanks, but the poem isn't mine. It was written by Han-Shan more than a thousand years ago.

anu said...

Even the poems you (merely) post, you have a picture which so resonates it, they all together come through you and hence, have a mystical tinge to it.

:) Thank you for sharing.

Michael said...

And thank you for reading, Anu!

Michael said...

(Bows deeply to Mike Cross.)