White birds over the gray river.
Scarlet flowers on the green hills.
I watch the spring go by and wonder
If I shall ever return home.
(trns. Kenneth Rexroth)
It’s National Poetry Month in the US!
Over the next month, likely on Tuesdays (our “rest day” here at school), I’m going to try and get pictures and poems up. The goal is four posts; the poetry in question, translated Korean poems, mostly modern at this point. The pictures are proving somewhat elusive, since technically I’m not the camera-sunim any more and getting the shots of folks doing their regular old business around the temple is hard when you’re not supposed to have a camera.
The plum tree has blossomed, and although there are plenty of odes to the plum in Asian poetry, Tu Fu’s plaintive response to the effervescence of the season is echoed in my own feelings as this season comes forth in a far land. I never saw a plum blossom before coming to seminary, and I still remember how, our first year, it bloomed slowly in a bitter cold and occasional spring rains, white sprays on black branches.
Woodblock print edition of the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.
For more on woodblock printing (which uses a technique known as a relief matrix), see Wikipedia.