Barn's burnt down

by Masahide

English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto
Original Language Japanese

Barn's burnt down --
I can see the moon.

-- from Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter, Translated by Lucien Stryk / Translated by Takashi Ikemoto

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I love this haiku. This is one of those special poems that feels eternal, as if it has always existed and, when it finds you at the right time, it says so much to the heart.

The moon, as I have pointed out before, is often used in Zen poetry to represent clarity or insight or, at its fullest, Buddha-mind, awakened awareness. The burnt barn can suggest worldly calamity and loss which can suddenly open us to the radical, serene truth that surrounds us everywhere. Or the barn can represent our own self-enclosing thoughts, "burned" down by spiritual practice and the ecstatic psychic spaciousness that can result.

So read that haiku again. Line-by-line:

The old structure, the barn has burnt down. It has collapsed, been cleared away.

Now. Now-- The shock has brought us, stunned, into the present moment.

The psychic field cleared, finally we can see the luminous moon, the light of enlightenment.

Recommended Books: Masahide

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter Japanese Death Poems

Barn's burnt down