Taigu Ryokan

(1758-1831 / Japan)

At Master Do's Country House


Two miles from town, I meet an old woodcutter
and we travel the road lined with huge pines.
The smell of wild plum blossoms
drifts across the valley.
My walking stick has brought us home.
In the ancient pond – huge, contented fish.
Long sunbeams penetrate the deep woods.
And in the house – a long bed
all covered with poetry books.
I loosen my belt and robes,
copy phrase after phrase for my poems.
At twilight, I walk to the east wing –
spring quail startle into the air.

Tramping for miles I come upon a farm house
as the great ball of sun sets in the forest.
Sparrows gather near a bamboo thicket,
flutter about in the closing dark.
From across a field comes a farmer
who calls a greeting from afar.
He tells his wife to strain their cloudy wine
and treats me to his garden's feast.
Sitting across table we drink each other's health
our talk rising to the heavens.
Both of us are so tipsy and happy
we forget the rules of this world.

Too confused to ever earn a living
I've learned to let things have their way.
With only three handfuls of rice in my bag
and a few branches by my fireside
I pursue neither right or wrong
and forget worldly fortune and fame.
This damp night under a grassy roof
I stretch out my legs without regrets.

Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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