"Ikkyu, a fifteenth-century Japanese Zen master and a fine (and strikingly fearless) poet himself, laughingly ridiculed his fellow poets, knowing as he did the distractions and temptations that might come with literary aspirations. His "intimacy with demons" is not to be seen in the light of the occidental romance with alienation, however. In Japanese art, demons are funny little guys, as solid as horses and cows, who gnash their fangs and cross their eyes. Poetry is a way of celebrating the actuality of a nondual universe in all its facets. Its risk is that it declines to exclude demons. Buddhism offers demons a hand and then tries to teach them to sit. But there are tricky little poetry/ego demons that do come along, tempting us with suffering or with insight, with success or failure. There are demons practicing meditation and writing poetry in the same room with the rest of us, and we are all indeed intimate. It didn't really trouble Ikkyu."
- Gary Snyder
Just One Breath: The Practice of Poetry and Meditation
Gary Snyder (born May 8, 1930) is an American poet (often associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance), as well as an essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist (frequently described as the "poet laureate of Deep Ecology"). Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His work, in his various roles, reflects an immersion in both Buddhist spirituality and nature. Snyder has translated literature into English from ancient Chinese and modern Japanese. For many years, Snyder served as a faculty member at the University of California, Davis, and he also served for a time on the California Arts Council.
Gary was there. So was I. 1967.
There are people on the planet who have to be busy or else they start to itch. I am not one of them.
This Empty Day
This day is empty,
Not even my poem is
Here in this one day.
I am at rest, nothing done.
I lie so still my cat looks
For me without hope.
I watch the light slowly change,
The motes drifting down.
December 28, 2008 12:03 PM
First posted April 21, 2009