Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Discovering one's own language: another throught

From "The Clouds Should Know Me by Now" (the Buddhist poet monks of China from the past 700 years)

...Maybe we're in a position now to see that this is what's so compelling in 1500 years of Ch'an poetry. The best poems push no doctrine or dogma, there's no jingo, no proselytizing. The Buddhism is carefully hidden away in tight five- and seven-syllable lines. (This metric pattern, according to Yunte Huang, "is intimately related to the translations from the Sanskrit Buddhist texts. It was the encounter with an alphabetical language--Sanskrit--that made the Chines realize for the first time that a Chinese character was pronounced by a combination of vowel and consonant.")

This came back to me from having recently read it, after Alex told of finding Sicilian to be a written language--his own language, complete.

Ch'i chi (864-937 C.E.)

Don't dye it, don't pull it out,
let it grow all over your head.
No medicine can stop the whiteness,
the blackness won't last out the fall.
Lay your head on a quiet pillow, hear the cicadas,
idly incline it to watch the waters flow--
The reason we can't rise to this broader view of life
is because, white hair, you grieve us so!

So much of the poetry takes me to a deeper tranquil and very awake place. But this one shows the abiding sense of humor that surfaces in many of the poets' work. Wanted to share.


Scott Abbott said...

i identify with this, obviously, given my white hair.

Anonymous said...