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Zen Poems of China and Japan: The Crane's Bill (Evergreen Book) Paperback – January 18, 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
Zen poetry is one of the glories of Zen, and yet few in the West seem to care or even know about it. Though undoubtedly sincere in their efforts to understand Zen, most readers seem drawn to prose treatises or explications or analyses of one sort or another, while overlooking the fact that, as Taigan Takayama expresses it : "Zen detests conceptualization" (page xi). Tenzan Yasuda has expressed the same idea this way : "What expresses cosmic truth in the most direct and concise way - that is the heart of Zen art" (page xxxvii).
The poetry of Zen ranges all the way from the tiny seventeen-syllable haiku of a stupendous poet such as Santoka, which have been beautifully translated by John Stevens (in 'Mountain Tasting : Zen Haiku by Santoka Taneda'), through to the Zen verse treatise, of which the finest example is the Third Patriarch Seng-ts'an's 'Hsin-hsin-ming.' This poem brilliantly captures the essence of Zen in its thirty-one verses, and is a text that deserves to be far better known. Although the present book is devoted to shorter poems, an easily accessible translation of the 'Hsin-hsin-ming' will be found in D. T. Suzuki's 'Manual of Zen Buddhism' ('On Believing in Mind,' pages 76-82).
'Crane's Bill' is a collaborative effort which falls into three parts. First we are given, in a Foreword, Preface, and Introduction, 42 pages of interesting and informative material in which a very persuasive case is made for the fact that we should be reading these poems.Read more ›
This poetry collection is an excellent introduction to Chinese and Japanese Zen poetry. The forward, (by Taigan Takayama) introduction (by Takashi Ikemoto) and preface (by Lucien Stryk) provides essential information on the relationship between Zen and poetry. The first section focuses on poetry from China on Enlightenment, death and general poems. The second section is about Japanese poems of enlightenment, death and general poems. Do not pass over the notes section because I found this section very helpful in understanding many of the Chinese and Japanese poems.
If you love Asian Zen poetry you will love this wonderful collection of poetry.
Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: Haiku Moments: How to read, write and enjoy haiku)
So, I bought this book again, and this time I read it with a much fuller appreciation. First, I read the introductions and the poems straight through. When I got to the notes at the back, I read them each with a re-read of the poem annotated. Now that I am finished reading this book again, I can attest that it is one of the best books written about Zen poems. If I had to give it any critique for improvement, I would like a greater emphasis on the Chinese influences, and I would like at least a small mention of Korea's role in the rise of Zen, or Chan-Seon-Zen-Thien Buddhism.
Overall, I recommend it without reservation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this book. I owned it many years ago, couldn't find it and ordered this new copy. Then found the old copy! Read morePublished 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
A useful collection of Zen Poems well translated as always by Lucien Stryk. Manily material from earlier periods of history.Published on August 11, 2008 by Alan E. Senior