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Thread: A Marvelous Night For a Moon Dance

  1. #1

    A Marvelous Night For a Moon Dance

    The past couple of days Jundo has been talking about one of my favorite sections of the Genjo Koan...the moon and water as analogy for our practice. While we know that this type of teaching goes far beyond our words to express it, still there are those who have managed to give us the flavour through their writings.

    So, I wanted to start a thread in honour of Jundo's (and Dogen's) teaching and ask anyone who would like to to share some of their favorite moon poems. It can be written by someone else or by your very own self. I'll begin with a waka from Zen Master Ryokan:

    Who would ever known it was there
    Beneath the duckweed
    That chokes the water by the shore:
    The full moon.

  2. #2

    Re: A Marvelous Night For a Moon Dance

    Shui tiao ko tou
    by Su Shi (Su Dongpo)

    The moon -- how old is it?
    I hold the cup and ask the clear blue sky
    But I don't know, in palaces up there
    When is tonight?
    If only I could ride the wind and see --
    But no, jade towers
    So high up, might be too cold
    For dancing with my shadow --
    How could there, be like here?

    Turning in the red chamber
    Beneath the carved window
    The brightness baffles sleep
    But why complain?
    The moon is always full at parting
    A man knows grief and joy, separation and reunion
    The moon, clouds and fair skies, waxing and waning --
    An old story, this struggle for perfection!
    Here's to long life
    This loveliness we share even a thousand miles apart!

  3. #3

    Re: A Marvelous Night For a Moon Dance

    A poem that my kids seem to like:

    The Cat and the Moon

    The cat went here and there
    And the moon spun round like a top,
    And the nearest kin of the moon,
    The creeping cat, looked up.
    Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
    For, wander and wail as he would,
    The pure cold light in the sky
    Troubled his animal blood.
    Minnaloushe runs in the grass
    Lifting his delicate feet.
    Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
    When two close kindred meet,
    What better than call a dance?
    Maybe the moon may learn,
    Tired of that courtly fashion,
    A new dance turn.
    Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
    From moonlit place to place,
    The sacred moon overhead
    Has taken a new phase.
    Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
    Will pass from change to change,
    And that from round to crescent,
    From crescent to round they range?
    Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
    Alone, important and wise,
    And lifts to the changing moon
    His changing eyes.

    -- William Butler Yeats


  4. #4

    Re: A Marvelous Night For a Moon Dance

    I really liked this site: Li Bai drinking alone (with the moon, his shadow, & 32 translators)

    And I know of one more translation not on that website - here is Barry Hughart's version from his charming little novel Bridge of Birds:

    Among the flowers, with a flask of wine,
    I drink all alone - no one to share.
    Raising my flask, I welcome the moon,
    And my shadow joins us, making a threesome.

    As I sing, the moon seems to sway back and forth;
    As I dance, my shadow goes flopping about.
    As long as we're sober, we'll enjoy one another,
    And when we get drunk, we'll go our own ways.

    Thus we'll pursue our own avatars,
    And we'll all meet again in the River of Staaaaaaars!

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