Overview

The
Japanese poet-recluse Ryokan (1758–1831) is one of the most beloved
figures of Asian literature, renowned for his beautiful verse, exquisite
calligraphy, and eccentric character. Deceptively simple, Ryokan's poems
transcend artifice, ...

See more details below
Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 38%)$16.95 List Price

Overview

The
Japanese poet-recluse Ryokan (1758–1831) is one of the most beloved
figures of Asian literature, renowned for his beautiful verse, exquisite
calligraphy, and eccentric character. Deceptively simple, Ryokan's poems
transcend artifice, presenting spontaneous expressions of pure Zen spirit. Like
his contemporary Thoreau, Ryokan celebrates nature and the natural life, but
his poems touch the whole range of human experience: joy and sadness, pleasure
and pain, enlightenment and illusion, love and loneliness. This collection of
translations reflects the full spectrum of Ryokan's spiritual and poetic
vision, including Japanese haiku, longer folk songs, and Chinese-style verse.
Fifteen ink paintings by Koshi no Sengai (1895–1958) complement these
translations and beautifully depict the spirit of this famous poet.


Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834826083
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 662,932
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

John Stevens is Professor of Buddhist Studies and Aikido instructor at Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai, Japan. He is the author or translator of over twenty books on Buddhism, Zen, Aikido, and Asian culture. He has practiced and taught Aikido all over the world.

Koshi no Sengai was born in Niigata Prefecture in 1895. Devoting his career to paintings of Ryokan, the artist led a quiet and simple life in the Niigata countryside and died in 1958.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Translator's
Introduction

The
Zen poet Ryokan was born in 1758 in the remote and snowy province of Echigo,
located in northern Honshu, bordering the Sea of Japan. His father was the
village headman and a haiku poet of some note, and Ryokan received a thorough
education in the classics of China and Japan. Shy and studious as a boy, Ryokan
was the local Don Juan for a brief period in his youth. Following a spiritual
crisis around the age of twenty, however, he renounced his patrimony and
entered a Zen monastery.

In
1780 Ryokan became the disciple of Kokusen, the top Soto Zen
roshi
of
the period, and accompanied that master to Entsu-ji in Tamashima. Ryokan
trained diligently at that lovely little monastery until Kokusen's death in
1791. Even though he had received formal sanction as Kokusen's Dharma heir,
Ryokan spurned all invitations to head up his own temple and embarked instead
on a long pilgrimage, wandering all over Japan during the next decade.

In
his early forties, Ryokan drifted back to his native place, and he remained
there the rest of his days, living quietly in mountain hermitages. He supported
himself by begging, sharing his food with birds and beasts, and spent his time
doing Zen meditation, gazing at the moon, playing games with the local children
and geisha, visiting friends, drinking rice wine with farmers, dancing at
festivals, and composing poems brushed in exquisite calligraphy.

A
friend wrote this about Ryokan:

When
Ryokan visits it is as if spring had come on a dark winter's day. His character
is pure and he is free of duplicity and guile. Ryokan resembles one of the
immortals of ancient literature and religion. He radiates warmth and
compassion. He never gets angry, and will not listen to criticism of others.
Mere contact with him brings out the best in people.

Once
a relative of Ryokan's asked him to speak to his delinquent son. Ryokan came to
visit the family home but did not say a word of admonition to the boy. He
stayed the night and prepared to leave the following morning. As the wayward
boy was helping tie Ryokan's straw sandals, he felt a warm drop of water on his
shoulder. Glancing up, the boy saw Ryokan, with eyes full of tears, looking
down at him. Ryokan departed silently, but the boy soon mended his ways.

The
samurai lord of the local domain heard of Ryokan's reputation as a worthy Zen
monk and wanted to construct a temple and install Ryokan as abbot. The lord
went to visit the monk at Gogo-an, Ryokan's hermitage on Mount Kugami, but he
was out gathering flowers, and the party waited patiently until Ryôkan
returned with a bowl full of fragrant blossoms. The lord made his request, but
Ryokan remained silent, Then he brushed a haiku on a piece of paper and handed
it to the lord:

The
wind gives me

Enough
fallen leaves


To make a fire

The
lord nodded in acknowledgment and returned to his castle.

Once,
after the long winter confinement, Ryokan visited the village barber to have
his shaggy head of hair shaved off. The barber cut one side but then demanded a
ransom to finish the job: a sample of Ryokan's calligraphy. Ryokan brushed the
name of a Shinto god, a kind of calligraphy that served as a good-luck charm.
Pleased that he had outwitted the monk, the barber had the calligraphy mounted
and displayed it in his alcove.

A
visitor remarked to the barber one day, "You

know,
there is a character missing from the god's name."

Such
an omission negates the calligraphy's effect as a talisman, and the barber
confronted Ryokan. Ryokan scolded him good-naturedly for his greed: "You
short-changed me, so I short-changed you. That kind old lady down the road
always gives me extra bean cake, so the calligraphy I gave her has an extra
character in it!"

Old
and infirm, Ryokan was finally obliged to leave his mountain hut and spent his
final days at the home of one of his patrons in the village. Near the end of
his life, he fell in love with the beautiful young nun Teishin. She was at
Ryokan's side when he passed away on January 6, 1831, at age seventy-three.

Ryokan
wrote thousands of poems and poem-letters, both Chinese and Japanese style, and
scattered them about. These were treasured by the local folk and later lovingly
studied and collected by scholars. The first edition of Ryokan's poems, titled
Hachisu
no Tsuyu
("Dewdrops
on a Lotus Leaf") and compiled by Teishin, appeared in 1835. Expanded
collections of Ryokan's work have continued to be published over the years, and
he is likely Japan's most popular and beloved Zen poet. As mentioned in the
tale above, Ryokan's delightful brushwork, totally unaffected and free-flowing,
is also highly esteemed, and Ryokan is venerated as one of the greatest
calligraphers of all time in East Asia.

The
practice of Zen and the appreciation of Zen art is now universal, and Ryokan's
life and spirit speak to lovers of poetry, religion, and beauty everywhere. The
selection of poems presented here reflects the range and depth of Ryokan's Zen
vision. He focused on "things deep inside the heart," and his poems
cover the spectrum of human experience: joy and sadness, pleasure and pain,
enlightenment and illusion, love and loneliness, man and nature. Like those of
his counterpart Cold Mountain (Han-shan), the legendary Zen poet of T'ang
China, Ryokan's poems reveal the full, rich texture of Zen.

Good
friends and excellent teachers—Stick close to them!

Wealth
and power are fleeting dreams

But
wise words perfume the world for ages.



Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)