Thursday, May 24, 2012

Three Poems by Stonehouse (tr. Red Pine)

A round head and square robe constitute a monk
behold a descendant of Shakyamuni Buddha
stopping wrongs and evils taming the horse of will
banishing thoughts and schemes caging the monkey mind
refining his true nature until its pure gold
keeping the mystic source warm as jade
give him a pull but he won't budge
only when he's willing is he friendly


To get to the end the very end
let it all go let it go
saliva builds on the lips
moss grows thick on an ancient pond
a wooden horse flashes through the clouds
a clay ox thunders beneath the sea
a moonlit night on a thousand snowy peaks
a hidden scent says spring has reached the winter plum


Scorpion tails and wolf hearts overrun the world
everyone has a trick to get ahead
but how many smiles in a lifetime
how many moments of peace in a day
who knows a toppled cart means try another track
when trouble strikes there is no time for shame
this old monk isn't just talking
he's trying to remove your obstacles and chains

- from The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a 14th Century Chinese Hermit (Counterpoint 1999)

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