Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk

By Susan Porterfield | Go to book overview

Poetry and Zen

I

One spring day in 1912, the German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke had an extraordinary experience, which, based on the poet's account to her, the Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe described in the following manner:

He wandered absent-minded, dreaming, through the undergrowth and maze of briars, and suddenly found himself next to a huge old olive tree which he had never noticed before. . . . The next thing he knew he was leaning back into the tree, standing on its gnarled roots, his head propped against the branches. . . . An odd sensation came over him so that he was fixed to the spot, breathless, his heart pounding. It was as though he were extended into another life, a long time before, and that everything that had ever been lived or loved or suffered here was coming to him, surrounding him, storming him, demanding to live again in him. . . . 'Time' ceased to exist; there was no distinction between what once was and now had come back, and the dark, formless present. The entire atmosphere seemed animated, seemed unearthly to him, thrusting in on him incessantly. And yet this unknown life was close to him somehow; he had to take part in it. . . .

Of course the princess was suitably impressed and saw the experience as further proof of the poet's otherworldliness, romantic disposition. Had Rilke spoken with a Zen master of the event, it would have been called perhaps by its right name, spiritual awakening. Zen Buddhism's main purpose is to make such experiences possible, for their result is liberation.

Because Zen exists as a discipline to make an awakening possible, and because its adherents are made aware, early in their training, that all their labors will be fruitless unless they are enlightened, many have at least simulacra of the event. If in the West the mystic realization is extremely rare, in

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Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface x
  • Introduction 1
  • The American Scene Versus the International Scene 15
  • I. Lucien Stryk on Poems Ana Poetry 23
  • Making Poems 25
  • What? Why This. This Only 41
  • A World Language of Poetry? 48
  • Note on Translating Japanese Zen Poetry 51
  • Verse: Free and Otherwise 53
  • The Future of Poetry 55
  • Beyond Poetry 57
  • The Red Rug: An Introduction to Poetry 60
  • Lucien Stryk: An Interview 76
  • Ii. Lucien Stryk on Zen 97
  • Let the Spring Breeze Enter: the Quest of Zen 99
  • Beginnings, Ends 106
  • Zen Poetry 117
  • Painter and Poet 134
  • Shinkichi Takahashi: Contemporary Zen Poet 144
  • Death of a Zen Poet: Shinkichi Takahashi (1901-1987) 156
  • I Fear Nothing: A Note on the Zen Poetry of Death 166
  • Buddhism and Modern Man 176
  • Poetry and Zen 196
  • The Sound of Tearing/ the Destroyer of Books 211
  • Notes 215
  • Introduction to Encounter with Zen 217
  • Introduction to on Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho 223
  • Preface to Crow with No Mouth: Ikkyu 233
  • Introduction to the Dumpling Field: Haiku of Issa 240
  • Modern Japanese Haiku 251
  • Encounter with Lucien Stryk 269
  • III - On the Poet 277
  • Lucien Sfryk's Poetry 279
  • Notes 291
  • Earning the Language: the Writing of Lucien Stryk 293
  • From "Zen: the Rocks of Sesshu" to "Triumph of the Sparrow 314
  • Notes 337
  • Translating Lucien Stryk 341
  • Iv Selected Poetry of Lucien Stryk 345
  • Books by Lucien Stryk 387
  • Works Cited 388
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