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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lotus Moon

Lotus Moon
The Poetry of Rengetsu
Translated by John Stevens
White Pine Press (2005)
Japanese poet, Rengetsu (1791-1875), was the illegitimate offspring of a high-ranking Samurai and a young geisha. In her youth she was visited by severe tragedy (deaths of two husbands and three infant children). She became a Buddhist nun taking the name Lotus Moon. Her world attempted to limit her on the basis of gender, however she realized art was her path. As moving meditation she began making pottery. She learned martial arts, literature and calligraphy. Keeping few possessions she likened herself to a "drifting cloud". Incredibly prolific, being one of the most generous, sustained offerings of deep spiritual practice in Buddhist history. She left her fine poetry as a legacy.
Lotus Moon offered me many favorites-here's three: 

"Mountain Falling Flowers"

We accept the graceful falling
of mountain cherry blossoms,
But it is much harder for us
To fall away from our own 
Attatchment to the world.

"Summer Moon"

The cool shoadows
of the bright moon
In an open field
makes you forget
all daytime worries.

Perhaps my favorite: 

" Evening Cool by the Sea"

Cooling off in a boat
that sways as if drunk-
in the bay breeze
the moon on the waves
seems a bit tipsy too!
Reading Rengetsu for the first time was enjoyable, pleasant and reflective. However, I feel repeated reading in the future will broader perceived simplicity to the complex.
Lotus Moon is the second of my girl poet reading project.