The Poetry of Zen
A Zen poem is nothing other than an expression of the enlightened mind, a handful of simple words that disappear beneath the moment of insight to which it bears witness. Poetry has been an essential aid to Zen Buddhist practice from the dawn of Zen—and Zen has also had a profound influence on the secular poetry of the countries in which it has flourished. Here, two of America’s most renowned poets and translators provide an overview of Zen poetry from China and Japan in all its rich variety, from the earliest days to the twentieth century. Included are works by Lao Tzu, Han Shan, Li Po, Dogen Kigen, Saigyo, Basho, Chiao Jan, Yuan Mei, Ryokan, and many others. Hamill and Seaton provide illuminating introductions to the Chinese and Japanese sections that set the poets and their work in historical and philosophical context. Short biographies of the poets are also included.
Please also visit our Reader's Guide to Buddhist Poetry.
"A major collection." —Booklist
"The poets in this superb collection pay attention to the wonders of the natural world, the signs of precariousness of life in all living beings, the little changes that comprise each day, and the small details that are often missed by those who are less observant." —Spirituality & Health
"These evocative poems capture the ephemera of nature with uncanny starkness." —Buddhadharma
"There is no need to be mystical or religious to enjoy this writing." —The Bloomsbury Review
"This is a book to enrich our life and our practice, a collection that encourages us to be mindful, to keep at it. Read it, and sit." —Tricycle