stillness

by Kobayashi Issa

English version by David G. Lanoue
Original Language Japanese

stillness--
in the depths of the lake
billowing clouds

-- from This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, Edited by Ivan M. Granger

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Three lines, just a few syllables each, a moment in time. A great haiku is like peering through a keyhole, the closer we get to it the more we see.

This haiku, for example: We have a still lake reflecting the sky. That's it. That is all the poet gives us. But we understand that it is the lake's stillness that allows it to reflect the sky. The mind, as it constructs this picture for us, expands the relationship between lake and sky to something both universal and personal.

In contemplating the haiku, we watch the scene, and we too receive and reflect an image of beauty. The quieter we become, the clearer the image. We naturally begin to see the lake as our own awareness and the sky as the Eternal. When we are still, the heavens are reflected within our own quiet depths...



Recommended Books: Kobayashi Issa

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library)
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stillness