The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China

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This unique collection presents the verse, much of it translated for the first time, of fourteen eminent Chinese Buddhist poet monks. Featuring the original Chinese as well as english translations and historical introductions by Burton Watson, J.P. Seaton, Paul Hansen, James Sanford, and the editors, this book provides an appreciation and understanding of this elegant and traditional expression of spirituality.

"So take a walk with...these cranky, melancholy, lonely, mischievous poet-ancestors. Their songs are ...

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The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China

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Overview

This unique collection presents the verse, much of it translated for the first time, of fourteen eminent Chinese Buddhist poet monks. Featuring the original Chinese as well as english translations and historical introductions by Burton Watson, J.P. Seaton, Paul Hansen, James Sanford, and the editors, this book provides an appreciation and understanding of this elegant and traditional expression of spirituality.

"So take a walk with...these cranky, melancholy, lonely, mischievous poet-ancestors. Their songs are stout as a pilgrim's stave or a pair of good shoes, and were meant to be taken on the great journey."--Andrew Schelling, from his Introduction

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Editorial Reviews

Jane Hirshfield
"Arranging yet intimate selection filled with scholarship, humor, and insight."
Diane di Prima
"Living so close to mind and to nature-in the place where these are not two-these ancient monk-poets present us with the eternal stuff of the poem: hills, crags, journeys, the solitary monk or nun, the gentle inexorable pace of the seasons, till we, too, begin to glimpse all this as our own original face."
Sam Hamill
"These Zen monks, writing between the T'ang Dynasty and the early twentieth century and until now virtually unknown in the West, are among the exemplars of one of the world's richest and most influential literary traditions. The poems, translated by some of the most knowledgeable and talented scholars anywhere, are luminous and elegant in their simplicity, resonating with the wisdom of sages. This is an indispensable book."
Dharmalife
"A welcome and tantalizing selection of verse from a tradition of poetry that remains largely untranslated. Reading the poetry of these Chinese monks one has a sense of what it is like to live solely amid nature. They tell it like it is, and their simple humility in the face of the wonders of the natural earth has much to teach us."
New Visions
"If you have dog-eared copies of 'Hiding the Universe' or 'Cold Mountain,' or are enamored of the many contemporary poets who have taken inspiration from them, you will find 'Clouds.' to be a most welcomed friend."
Pacific Reader
"In such a hurly-burly time as ours, is it a comfort to sit down and spend half an hour meditating on the manifest world as seen through the eyes of Buddhist poet-monks."
NAPRA ReVIEW
"A thousand years of poetry has been tenderly gathered in from the wind and gently placed upon the page...it is a breath of fresh, crisp, high-altitude air to our hearts."
Choice
"Refreshing. These translations will stand alongside those of Pound, Rexroth, Snyder and R.H. Blyth. A valuable addition to collections of Buddhist poetry. Recommended."
East And West Series
"A rare collection of devotional poems by fourteen eminent Chinese Buddhist monks, this book resonates with the wisdom of the sages. Featuring the original Chinese as well as the English translations by some of the most knowledgeable and talented scholars, the poems are luminous and elegant in their expression of traditional spirituality. Profound spiritual truths lie hidden in these poems of friendship, family life, travels; poems with a breath of pine wind. They strike a note that is seasoned, deeply and resolutely secular. One thread that runs through all these poems is that of a reverence for life: one's own, one's companions, one's fellow-creatures! If you love the company of gifted poets, this is just the book for you."
Choice
"Refreshing. These translations will stand alongside those of Pound, Rexroth, Snyder and R.H. Blyth. A valuable addition to collections of Buddhist poetry. Recommended."
Library Journal
The witty introduction to this volume invites us to "take a walk with the Ch'an Buddha-ancestors, these cranky, melancholy, lonely, mischievous poet-ancestors." These poets, Chinese monks of the Ch'an (Zen) tradition who spanned the ninth to the 19th centuries, lived in intimacy with the physical world, many of them in caves or huts in the mountains, and their poems reflect a deep connection to nature. In the 1950s, Gary Snyder made the poetry of the Ch'an poet Han-Shan popular in the West; this volume introduces us to the writings of several others, most of them newly translated into English. The Chinese texts are included. The struggle to quiet the mind, even for these masters, is continually present--and from this struggle come achingly beautiful poems: "Flat Lake cold penetrates water-lily clothes/ the mountain by the lake is neither right nor wrong." In their haunting simplicity, the poems collected here remind us of our oneness with the environment. Highly recommended for all libraries.--Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward
Tricycle Magazine
Red Pine and other translators bring the poets of the "crimson leaves" and "azure depths" of Ch'an Buddhism back to vivd life. The poetry is spare, but the images of enlightenment and alpine solitude are fresh and elegant.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780861711437
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 7/10/2005
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike O'Connor is a poet and translator. He has published three volumes of his own poetry in addition to translating two volumes of the work of Buddhist poet Chia Tao. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Red Pine (Bill Porter) won the 1996 PEN West Award for Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom, and is a well-known translator of classical Chinese philosophy and poetry, including translations of the Platform Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, and the Lankavatara Sutra. He has lived in Taiwan and Hong Kong and traveled extensively in China. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Andrew Schelling is a poet, essayist, and translator of the poetry of India. He has taught at Naropa University for twenty years and from 1993-96 served as chair of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics founded by Alan Ginsburg and Anne Waldman. His publications include Tea Shack Interior and The Wisdom Anthology of North American Buddhist Poetry. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
Chia Tao (779-843) 11
Ch'i-chi (864-937) 43
The Nine Monks and Chih Yuan, Poet Monks of Early Sung China (late tenth century) 75
Han-shan Te-ch'ing (1546-1623) 113
Shih-shu (late 17th century - early 18th century) 141
Ching An (1851-1912) 173
Epilogue 199
Index of First Lines 203
About the Contributors 208
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