Thinking

by Ryokan

English version by Gabriel Rosenstock
Original Language Japanese

Thinking
Now that all thoughts have subsided
off I go, deep into the woods,
and pick me
a handful of shepherd's purse.
Just like the stream
meandering through mossy crevices
I, too, hushed
become utterly clear.

-- from Haiku: The Gentle Art of Disappearing, by Gabriel Rosenstock

<<Previous Poem | More Poems by Ryokan | Next Poem >>


/ Photo by digicla /


View All Poems by Ryokan

Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I really like the way this poem opens...

Thinking
Now that all thoughts have subsided
off I go, deep into the woods,
and pick me
a handful of shepherd's purse.


Ryokan gives us a sense of thoughts finally tiring of themselves and falling silent. And only then does it occur to him to enter the woods -- a monk, in his quiet, moving slowly among the trees in search of his simple meal of shepherd's purse (an edible wild herb).

But it's that part that really awakens:

Just like the stream
meandering through mossy crevices
I, too, hushed
become utterly clear.


He has movement, yes, but it is effortless flow. His entire life at that moment is transparent, completely clear, free from self and the silting of mind. The question lingers: Shall we too slip into the woods?



Recommended Books: Ryokan

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan Haiku: The Gentle Art of Disappearing Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan
More Books >>





Thinking