Monday, 8 March 2010

More Ryōkan

Ryōkan loved to play with the village children and
there are many related stories. One of my favourites
tells of him being so absorbed in the game of hide
and seek that he was still hiding in the haystack long
after the children had all gone home to bed.

Indeed a long, hazy spring day
Has gone away at last,
As I forget myself playing with the children
Bouncing balls and singing and songs.

Ah how happy am I
To go out in the fields
And gather tender herbs running about
With the merry, merry village children.
Sometimes he found the life difficult -
In the world of dreams
I've been dreaming on and on
And upon waking up
How loneliness pierces me
When Ryōkan was sixty nine and nearing the end of his
life he met a beautiful young nun and poet named
Teishin. Though Teishin was only 28, they fell in love.
They exchanged several beautiful love poems.

Here is a taste of the correspondence between them.

(On her first visit to Ryōkan)
Wondering if it's a dream,
I'm filled with joy,
Never wake me if it's a dream.
Leave me, please, in this joy, forever.
( Answer)
Slumbering in the dream land,
Talking about the dream
Why not float our dream
On the stream of eternity.
- Ryōkaan
( Now I have to go)
Good-bye, dear Master,
Please let me come again,
Tracing along the path,
Through weeds growing so thick.
Please come again, please,
If you don't mind the poor hut.
Why not come and see me again,
Through the dwey way of eulalia.

Teishin nursed him in his final illness and after his
death she devoted her life to compiling his poems and
writings and published a book called Hachisu no Tsuyu
( A Dewdrop from a Lotus).

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