Words words


Makoto Ooka

I keep on vacant land
A horse which none can see
Now and again grasping the reins
I go to meet a twelfth-century Zen priest
He lived for eight hundred years
There is no trace of his body
His body has turned into words
Soon even the words will be gone
Until then a temporary home
Borrowing the eaves of words
‘Flowers open and the world arises’
When he says this
He is the flowers opening he is the world arising
As words within words along with words
Opening and closing
Floating and sinking
Born killed
Continuing as words
Continuing to live inside words
Unable to die
While words exist on earth
He turns into rocks wheels love
He transforms into blood sky calendar
As so he must continue to be tortured
By the painful recognition that he is the world’s equal
What is it that is painful
There is no pain like
That of words become flesh
That mankind does not feel it as pain
Is because they do not truly feel the flesh
Says the withered priest.

– Makoto Ooka

Makoto Ooka once pointed out that the modus operandi of traditional Japanese poetry is a dynamism between two conflicting mindsets: one that is willing to let go of one’s ego and create harmony with others, and another that pursues ultimate solitude, what he called a sort of “party” attended by “lonely hearts” — Utage to Koshin.

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