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Muso Soseki: Year after year

Muso Soseki: Year after year
Photo: The farmer and his field from 'A Character Study in Old Japan' by Okinawa Soba


Year after year
I dug in the earth
looking for the blue of heaven
only to feel
the pile of dirt
choking me
until once in the dead of night
I tripped on a broken brick
and kicked it into the air
and saw that without a thought
I had smashed the bones
of the empty sky

(Muso Soseki)



Quote Source & Recommended Reading:

'Sun at Midnight: Poems and Sermons'
By Muso Soseki (Author), W. S. Merwin (Author), Soiku Shigematsu (Author)

Purchase Book:



Long out of print, this reissue is the first translation into English of the work of Muso Soseki, the thirteenth-century Zen roshi and founder of the rock garden. A gorgeous introduction by co-translator W.S. Merwin sets the stage for 130 poems and six letters to the Emperor that combine delicacy and lightness with penetrating plainness. Essential for poets, gardeners, and students of Zen.

Born ten years after Dante Alighieric, Muso Soseki was the most famous Zen monk of his time, and is considered the father of the rock garden. Muso spent much of his early life practicing Zen in remote temples and hermitages. In spite of this isolation, his reputation grew, and he served as an advisor and teacher to several emperors, as well as to more than thirteen thousand students.

W.S. Merwin is one of the world's foremost translators of poetry.

Co-translator Soiku Shigematsu is a Zen scholar, poet, and translator who serves as the abbot of Shogen-ji Temple in Shimizu, Japan.
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