Dear Friends,
A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks. First, my computer system went down, and I am finally recovering it back to its formal glory and all that. Tiresome bit of business I have to say. Thankfully, my friend Terry is leading me through it, and I have such a better understanding of what went on with it now.
Then, there was Art Walk! That was a blast, and it drove me to some new heights for creativity, and working with a bit of speed when it comes to painting. I painted 3 different new paintings, one which has been spoken for, namely “The Dharma Baby”. We had many visitors, Ed & Janice, Maggie & Tony, Miss Cymon, Gordon, Mike Hoffman, Julie & Mike, Joanne, Morgan and many others. Nemo pointed out earlier that many of my prints are 3-D, led to some very hilarious exchanges when I loaned my 3D glasses out to Art Walkers…80) The 3D effect also was demonstrated by some of my paintings, especially “Eziekiah Wheels” which was quite strange to look at. I will be publishing the new prints on my website Gwyllm-Arts.com soon for all to see. Now I have to figure out if they show up 3D on line as well! One of the great things that happened was that we took the boards off the front of the Infamous Mirador Mural! Steve & Lynn at Mirador were very happy as were we to see it see the light of day again! Hopefully soon it will be exposed once more. I feel a change is in the air!
I want to thank Lynn & Steve Hanrahan at Mirador Community Store for hosting Mary and I and my art work at Mirador for the Art Walk, and for providing a home to the mural. Steve and Lynn work constantly for the local community. Stop by, and get to know them. Wonderful People!


We have had some problems with the software that runs the blog, and I cannot at this time upload new pics until I figure out how to update/upload the software… (help!)
Thirdly, I have had what some call a health alert, and it seems that I am going into the hospital for some exploratory work this coming Tuesday. Hopefully, everything will turn out alright, which I feel it will. I will let people know about that, but it really will not be the topic of choice. I am doing some cleansing with herbs sent to me by my friend Tomas back east. Tomas, if you are reading this, bless your heart!
Enough of all that, we have some blogging to do. This was ready for the 19th of February… but with all the problems, in is out now.
Bright Blessings,

Gwyllm

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On The Menu:

The Levellers… 15 years

Remains Of The Deities

The Levellers…. Battle Of The Beanfield

Battle Of the Bean Field History

Videos/Links…

Three Zen Poets

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I love this band. The Levellers are one of those acts you will never hear about in the popular press, and that is a shame. One of the best, and most sincere music makers in the UK. Support these guys!
The Levellers…. 15 Years

15 years
I never was a violent man

Said the man in the bar with his head in his hands

he’s Trying his best to understand the cause of his dismay

But the years of gin have broken him

they’ve left him cold where he’s fitted in

but It’s too late now to turn around and find another way
And the laughs in the late night lock-in

have Faded away when he gets in

the girl from fifteen years ago

Has packed and gone away
That’s never how it used to be

What happened to all that energy

You took one too many liberties, I’m tired of being afraid

So after the fight she took flight

Hiding swollen eyes and a wounded pride

The best years of her life denied, and sold for liquid shares
CHORUS
and The victims of their world, are advertised on posters

just A beach and a pretty girl, if you just take this potion
theres another week ’til his cheque comes through

He’s got a fiver left now to spend on food

But the doors of the bars are open, and he breaks another rule

well He sits on a stool that bears his name

Hes got a favorite glass well its called the same

he’s never been kept waiting, ‘cos he pays a landlord’s wage
CHORUS
_________________________
An old one from Erik Davis…
Remains Of The Deities

Reading The Return of Paganism

By now, most of us need barely glance over our shoulders to see the cracks and fissures running through the facade of Western Civ. Rationality has degenerated into an instrument of control, science spawns the very problems it then hopes to mend, traditional canons crumble, and the social system that crawled out of Europe’s chilly bogs now munches its way across the planet’s surface like some cancerous machine set on auto-destruct.
For those of us inside this bustling ruin, the crisis of civilization is also a crisis of being. Our identities, forged in no small measure in the smithy of the state, are leaking, and conventional remedies–drugs, therapy, materialism, distraction–are just so many buckets. Identity must itself be tinkered with, unfolded, perhaps rekindled. And the first thing that needs major tweaking is our monotheism of mind.
Wait a minute. Isn’t God dead? Perhaps, but his chattering skull lives on. For what is the righteous ego if not our own personal Yahweh? Jealous of the other figures of mind, locked in his panopticon, armed with a Cartesian camera, this self-serious tyrant demonizes the pantheon of moods in the heart and the packs of beasts in the body. Left to its own devices, the ego becomes demiurge, breeding dualisms left and right, clutching a single tragic vision that divides the self from the dreaming world and kills that world in the process.
The unhealthy dominance of the ego calls for a cure, but obviously not the violence of surgical removal. Totalizing solutions are just more commandments, born-again delusions of a clean-slate self. Instead we need a complex, gradual disintegration. The Jungian renegade James Hillman suggests a polytheistic psychology. A cranky and oddly classicist postmodern of sorts, Hillman rejects the Jungian notion of a unified self as a humanist crock, while still accepting the psyched as a field that can be deepened into a collective landscape of imaginative resonance. “What we now all the unconscious are the old Gods returning, assaulting, climbing over the walls of the ego,” Hillman says. Rather than foment schizophrenia, this revival expands the self into a fluid and grounded multiplicity of styles, rhetorics, and drives, thickening the texture of interior life while simultaneously unfolding the self into the body, the street, and the field: no longer an alien master of dead matter, but a polymorphous Pagan in an awakened world.
But cures never work in the mind alone. They must be expressed and performed, and for at least three decades, all across the country, folks who have never read Hillman (or visited California) have been putting polytheistic remedies into practice: WASPs raised on Bewitched cast ritual circles, Jews invoke the Canaanite fertility goddess Astarte, systems analysts worship trees.
These Neopagans–or Pagans, as they increasingly call themselves–seek to live in a world in which, as Euripides said, “all things are full of gods.” To do this they must not only crack the mundane ego, but bootstrap the imagination, our distinct faculty of resonant perception. As children, all of us possessed a certain eye that glimpsed gnarled faces in rocks and clouds; Pagans seek to recapture that mode of liminal awareness, conjuring it our of the body with ritual and trance and magical visualizations.
Half a century old, larger than the Unitarian church, Paganism is no fad. As Chas Clifton writes in his introduction to Witchcraft Today: The Modern Craft Movement, the Craft “presents a radical critique of the dominant forms of spirituality more than it seeks an accommodation with them.” Wiccans–and the more inclusive category of Pagans–reject scientism, dualism, and the pure drive for escape velocity found in many transcendental Eastern paths. And though Pagans root through the New Age grab bag of positive thinking, alternative medicine, and Gaia talk, the movements chafe more than the sing: while well-heeled New Agers float in a diaphanous haze of “higher frequencies,” the far more bohemian Pagans ground the spirit in, as, as Clifton puts it, “dirt and flowers, blood and running water, sex and sickness, spells and household tools.”
The boldness of Paganism’s revisionary religion–as much a subculture as a system of worship–has swollen its ranks with the marginalized, the progressive, the weird: feminists and soldiers, lesbians and gays, SF fans and computer programmers, eco-hippies and Jews, garage scholars and the sword-wielding medievalists in the Society for Creative Anachronism. While any given Pagan festival–imagine a clothing-optional occult Renaissance Faire where everyone is in character–will turn up a wide mix of druids, Radical Faeries, and “Episcopagan” ceremonial magicians, witches (or Wiccans) increasingly dominate the movement. Most Wiccans work, with varying degrees of slack, within the tradition cobbled together by retired British civil servant and nudist Gerald Gardner in the 1940s: small covens that cast circles on full moons, dance and chant, and invoke a horned hunting God and a Triple Goddess.
While some “trad” Wiccans remain surprisingly insular and conservative–especially for folks whose rituals include nudity, flagellation and mild bondage–feminism and the anarchic strain of American spirituality have now produced far more “eclectics:” loose-limbed and more improvisational witches who sample from many traditions–and generally bag the scourges. And though generalizing about such a ragtag crew is like painting a rainforest with one shade of green, it can be said that all Pagans, recognizing humans as little more than animals with particularly swelled heads, seek to plug themselves into the imaginative and energetic matrix of nature. But while Pagans lose themselves in ritual, they simultaneously recover themselves in the folktales, relics and bloody testimonies of Indo-European history.

_ _ __
When secular intellectuals hear the words “European folk culture,” most reach for their revolvers, remembering how successfully Continental fascists juiced up the masses with appeals to intuition and peasant values. But such reactions say more about a common intellectual paranoia in the face of mythic thought and experience than they do about the intrinsic politics of occult spirituality or nature mysticism. Besides, with the exception of an isolated pocket of racist Vikings, fears of reactionary irrationalism are belied by what Pagans actually say and do.
Far too antiauthoritarian to brook fuhrers or gurus, Pagans use historical materials to cure themselves of historical determinations, and to tape the underground streams murmuring beneath the dominant narratives of the patriarchal state. Histories of the Craft invariably invoke the Inquisition, and images of conflagration haunt many Wiccans. Though often inflating the death toll of “the Burning Times” to Holocaust proportions, Wiccans use this historical echo to create an intimate connection among the underdogs of Europe–gays, women, heretics, the poor, Gypsies, Jews. And, with the exception of the Romany, all these groups are well represented in the Pagan revival.
By identifying with their pre-Christian ancestors, the white folk drawn to the Old Religion are performing a Euro-American equivalent of Afrocentricity. For they consider themselves yet another group colonized, then demonized, and now misrepresented by the powers that be. It’s no accident that the Celtic lore of Ireland–the most popular European tradition for Neopagans–belongs to one of Europe’s most downtrodden peoples. Besides their legitimate concern to distinguish witchcraft from Satanism, some contemporary witches condemn the evil hags and sirens of Halloween and Disney with all the earnestness of campus crusaders. And most Pagans are highly sympathetic to the struggles of people of color–and not just because many Native Americans, West Indians, and Latins are struggling for their gods as well.
Pagans thus navigate a powerful route between bland white liberal guilt and Caucasian appropriations of nonwhite cultures, whether Rastafarians, Indians, or Santeristas. Pagans thus create a margin of white authenticity from which to proclaim a critical religious and social counter-history of the West traced, like the Black Mass, backward: from the Christian devil to the horned Pan, from the early church to the mystery cults, and from ancient polytheists all the way back to the Stone Age haze when only the Goddess reigned.
All this leads to a highly combative use of history. In his feisty and fascinating Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture , Arthur Evans admits that because his heavily footnoted history of gay sex, heresy and rural magic concerns “the victims of Western civilization, rather than their rulers,” his book is one-sided, subjective and arbitrary as to sources. He further points out that all historians work this way. Of course, shit like this really riles academic scholars, but what stands out most in their intellectually legitimate critiques of Pagan revisionary history is not the sharpness of the bones they pick but their snide and arrogant pleasure in the process.
But the conflict goes beyond a turf war between professionals and garage scholars, into the thorny issue of the role of speculative imagination in our understanding of history. Europe’s Pagan residue lingers in the shadows of recorded (Christian) history. Any Pagan revisionist must also raid the worlds of mythology and poetic intuition, uncorking alembics of spirit in history’s dusty labs and transmuting the chemical record of the past into an alchemy of meanings.
Nowhere are the curious consequences of this alchemy more evident that in the work of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas. In the mid-70s, Gimbutas began using pots and figurines to construct a tale of an Old European matriarchal partnership society that worshipped the Goddess and lived in peace until around 6000 years ago, when marauding Conans and their macho sky gods came thundering in from the east on their excellent horses. Though clearly an eco-feminist Eden myth, Gimbutus fuels her speculative fire with a mass of research and comparative myth, and this tension between facts and an imaginative use of folklore makes for fascinating reading.
Gimbutas cleared the space for the Goddess movement to flourish, though the seeds were first sown by British revivalists like Gerald Gardner, feminist witches like Z. Budapest (who formed the Susan B. Anthony Coven in the early ’70s), and Starhawk, whose great The Spiral Dance galvanized the Craft with its pragmatic link between progressive politics and a no-bullshit grasp of magical techniques.
But where Gimbutas leaps, many of her followers veritably fly, and much of the Goddess phenomenon now stands apart from Paganism proper. In the hands of some feminists, the polymorphous Goddess of flux crystalizes into yet another totalizing, and essentially monotheist, ideology–what Morning Glory Zell calls “Jahweh in drag.” While it’s fine to experience such disgust with civilization that you reach back to the Stone Age for an image of the good life, this backwards-masked mode of ecological and patriarchal critique often settles into simple therapeutic catechism. Though the best Goddess books rattle their archaic evidence like curing fetishes, recovering the Goddess from the dust of pre-history often becomes the archaeological analog of recovering your inner child.
While too many Pagans and Goddess authors lapse into literalism and strident claims of authenticity, many also recognize that the creative force behind their revisionist stories is not truth but the polymorphous reflections of their own shifting perspectives. Strong polytheism allows fabrication and authenticity to dance without destroying each other. And when you set out to straddle the dry shores of facts and the swamps of mythology, or try to channel the oral ghosts which haunt the written word, distortions both clever and careless arise. But so what? History’s a Rorschach blot, and the gods peer out of your eyes. Can you see the vulva in a standing stone? The horns on a jester’s cap? The Green Man in the corner of a church? Or the goddess that surveys New York’s harbor? A funny thing happens when you start looking for the winks and signatures of these furtive figures. They start looking for you.

_ _ __
Though Paganism prides itself on rejecting holy scripture for immediate experience, it remains in many ways a religion of books. Surveys confirm that, as the witch Heather O’Dell put it, “most people drawn to the Craft are addicted to reading.” And many are also drawn to it through reading–not just classics like Janet and Stuart Farrar’s What Witches Do or Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon (which remains the best history of the American movement), but through fantasy novels as well. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon, a feminist revision of the Arthurian mythos, may have hooked more witches than Starhawk, and Pan only knows how many druids were born with the words “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
Avoiding the ossifying reaction of academic traditionalists, the tiresome fugue states of theory, the glib ignorance of the New Age, or the ironic capitulation of TV addicts, Paganism finds its postmodern soul in the crepescule between dream and text. Many critics have noticed that for all the rhetoric of “information,” our age demonstrates the triumph of image over the word, the dissolution of intellectual coherence into a sea of simulation. But Pagans have their cake (and ale) and eat it too, and not just because magic has always been a science of simulacra. Pagans know that words feed images. In a sense, Pagans read Gimbutas, The Mabinogion, and Mircae Eliade the same way they read comic books, Carl Jung or Ursula LeGuin: with a strange combination of wonder and pragmatism. They want that buzz, that mythic resonance that sets the spine ablaze, but they’re also on the prowl, ready to poach maps, chants, and god from the texts at hand.
Modern witchcraft began not with a revelation or an initiation, but with reading and rewriting. Though Gerald Gardner claimed to have contacted a secret New Forest coven whose tradition stretched back centuries, the Craft scholar Aiden Kelley and others basically proved that Gardner’s system was basically fabricated. Gardner cribbed much of the ritual from the notorious occultist Aleister Crowley and the American folklorist Charles G. Leland, whose wonderful Aradia collects the spells of a late-19th century Italian Dianic cult. Gardner also heavily borrowed from the historian Margaret A. Murray’s 1921 The Witch-cult in Western Europe, which took somewhat Gimbutus-like leaps to argue that witches’ sabbaths were actually pagan fertility rites and the devil a man dressed as a horned god. Like Robert Graves, whose White Goddess also strongly influenced British Wiccans, Murray wove a tale from folklore and fact. But to Gardner and others, these historical poems rang true, and though subsequent work by Carlo Ginsberg and others has shown Murray’s essential intuition to be correct, most witches today owe their existence to what was in some sense a literary resonance.
Which is why my favorite Pagan origin story is not Gardner’s New Forest initiation but the birth of the Church of All Worlds at Westminster College, Missouri in 1962. Undergrads Lance Christian and Tim Zell were obsessed with Ayn Rand and Maslow’s self-actualizing philosophy. Then they read Robert Heinlein’s A Stranger in a Strange Land, which described the communal non-monogamist Church of All Worlds founded by the Martian exile Valentine Michael Smith. Grokking their deepest desires in the SF text, the two students and some female friends performed Smith’s sacred water-sharing ritual, hopped in the sack, and founded a church. Later Zell renamed himself Otter, penned a prescient form of the Gaia hypothesis, and started using the word “Pagan” to describe CAW’s increasingly earthy and eclectic religion. As Zell recently put it, “we’re a sequel to a myth that hasn’t even happened yet.”
Cobbling together new Old Ways, Pagans proceed by a curious process of memory and forgetting: first, remembering the broken limbs of the gods scattered in books, museums, and nursery rhymes, then erasing those mundane sources into a vast memory of practices which simulates the timelessness of oral transmission. Most Wiccans don’t have a clue that one popular midsummer chant is an adaptation of “A Tree Song” by Rudyard Kipling. Or if they know, they don’t really care, because for them the chant works.
Their emphasis on pragmatism may seem paradoxical to some, but Pagans are more positivist than you think–they just expand their definition of admissible evidence. Such this-worldliness explains why occult shops (and botanicas) are as much like hardware stores as book worlds: the candles, swords, bowls, cards, talismans, jars of herbs and incense, all asked to be used. And much of the printed material consists of reference tomes or how-to books like Scott Cunningham’s popular Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, which includes basic rituals, descriptions of tools and altar set-ups, and recipes for incense and “crescent cakes”. Most of these manuals are rather slight variations on a basic theme, and frequently lapse into the simply superstitious, forgetting the words that close the lovely Charge of the Goddess in the Gardnerian liturgy: “if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.”
Still, these Wiccan cookbooks invest their religion not with dogma but with lore–the customs, hints and hand-me-downs that help Craft the magic into ordinary life. Rather than the ponderous intonations of ceremonial magic, this kitchen witchery blurs the distinction between herbal remedies, Gramma’s cooking secrets, and the secret ingredients for a Full Moon ritual anointing oil. Reflecting the fact that most Neopagans are city-folk, Patricia Telesco’s The Urban Pagan include lots of handy ecological tips for apartment dwellers alongside self-help visualizations and herbal cures. Her chapter “The Frugal Magician” includes designs for popsicle stick pentagrams and a discussion of “techno-magic” using computers, microwaves and TVs–which, when turned off, apparently make good surfaces for scrying.
Telesco’s massive attempt to reimagine the alienated objects in the urban field stands as a testament to the Pagan urge to sacralize and imaginatively deepen the world by whatever means necessary. Clearly, these techniques, a kind of magical pop art, extend beyond the recovery of rural folkways or naive Romanticism. So what’s going on? In describing the options of the individual within the technocratic state, Michel De Certeau unintentionally nailed the tactics that underlie Pagan practice: “Increasingly constrained, yet less and less concerned with these vast frameworks, the individual detaches himself from them without being able to escape them and can henceforth only try to outwit them, to pull tricks on them, to rediscover, within an electronicized and computerized megalopolis, the ‘art’ of the hunters and rural folk of earlier days.” That art is natural magic.

_ _ __
The hands-on aesthetic of Pagan spirituality carves a postmodern peasant religion from a world of unseen but ever-present landlords. Yet a strong millennial strain courses through the movement, an apocalyptic urgency not grounded in Christian eschatology but in a frank assessment of our ecological crisis. Healing the soul of its imaginative anomie and the body of its rigidity becomes analogues to healing the earth. Pagans recognize that rules and regulations alone cannot alter attitudes toward nature that are welded to civilization at least as securely as sexism is. The belief that humanity lords over the biosphere as its master and finest product is a function of the structure of Western consciousness, a structure that Pagans attempt to erode with art and ritual and enacted imagination.
Still, apart from psychedelic aficionados, the environmentalist fringe, and a few cool comic books, the link between Pagan imagination and deep ecology remains confined with a rather hermetic subculture that doesn’t proselytize or sell itself–and may party more than it should. Pagans do draw folks into their world, but that world is itself conjured on the fly: festivals and ritual circles are said to be “between the worlds,” spaces cast and then collapsed (or “opened”) like a psychic nomad’s hut. Along with the few islands of Pagan-owned land, Pagandom consists of a shifting network of temporary autonomous zones and the virtual communities created through computer bulletin boards, online discussion groups, and, most the exchange of zines.
Pagans currently produce over 500 periodicals, a tremendous output for less than half a million people and one that underscores the centrality of writing to Pagan experience. The Crone Chronicles reclaims the figure of the Crone for older women, while the teens that put out HAM cater to the growing crop of Pagan kids. The increasing influence of gays on Paganism can be felt not only in ongoing debates about gender and magical polarity but in zines like Out of the Broom Closet and Coming Out Pagan (the latter of which noted that the obviously pagan Ice Man found in the Alps a few years ago had traces of sperm around his anus). But the Church of All World’s Green Egg remains the great Pagan publication: besides unearthing old gods and birthing new ones (call on Squat the next time you need a parking place), and Green Egg’s Readers Forum remains the best print intro to the fractious, funny, sexy texture of Pagan community.
Just as Pagans see our species as inextricably and joyously embedded in the matrix of the earth, they also view the human soul as immersed in collective experience, a carnival of dark mothers, gay centaurs, vengeful redwood sprites and cyberspace tricksters. A most postmodern archaic turn, one that suggests that the death of the subject may have been announced prematurely–the self did not die, it just slipped like Persephone into the underworld. The babbling surreality and fragmentation of contemporary culture not only signify the collapse of the West’s sun-bent master narrative, but the return of the tales of a thousand and one nights. And that’s why you make a friend of the moon.
(First appeared in the Voice Literary Supplement, November 1993)


_________________________
The Battle Of The Beanfield

Some more of the Levellers… This is there take on The Battle Of The Beanfield

-G
The Levellers…. Battle Of The Beanfield

thought I heard something calling me

I’ve seen the pictures on TV

And I made up my mind that I’d go and see

With my own eyes
It didn’t take too long to hitch a ride

With a guy going south to start a new life

Past the place where my friend died

Two years ago
Down the 303 at the end of the road

Flashing lights – exclusion zones

And it made me think it’s not just the stones

That they’re guarding
Hey, hey, now can’t you see

There’s nothing here that you can call free

They’re getting their kicks

They’re laughing at you and me
As the sun rose on the beanfield

They came like wolf on the fold

And no, they didn’t give a warning

They took their bloody toll
I seen a pregnant woman

Lying in blood of her own

I seen her children crying

As the police tore apart their home
And no they didn’t need a reason

It’s what your votes condone

It seems they were committing treason

By trying to live on the road
And I say,

Hey, hey, now can’t you see

There’s nothing here that you can call free

They’re getting their kicks

They’re laughing at you and me
Hey, hey, now can’t you see

There’s nothing here that you can call free

They’re getting their kicks

They’re laughing at you and me
Bastards
Remember what you heard,
Hey, hey, now can’t you see

There’s nothing here that you can call free

They’re getting their kicks

They’re laughing at you and me

—-
I was living in London when it all occured. As usual, I was up to my eyeballs with business and art, but I had planned to go to Stonehenge for the Solstice. Who wouldn’t? I still want to if I get a chance…. Anyway, Margaret Thatcher in her wisdom had shut the festival down. There was a public upwelling, and The Travellers and associated clans rose up to exercise their rights of assembly. What follows in the link and associated video is harsh, but this is but part of the greater story of the Clearances, continuuing to this day. I think that re-institution of the commons, with attending rights including assembly, free speech, freedom of association, cognitive liberty are some of the challenges we must address.
In the US you have Burning Man, but that is a paid event and though rather cool, still is outside of the Temporary Autonomous Zone.
The Video: Be prepared for Police Violence. Sorry, but that is part of the story. I think we need to be aware of what the Owners will do to enforce their will on the populace.
The Battle of The Beanfield Pt 1


The Battle of The Beanfield Pt 2

—–

The Links:

The Wiki On “The Battle Of The Beanfield”

The Guardian looks at “The Battle Of The Beanfield”

Another Site Devoted To “The Battle”

Photos Of The Battle…

_________________________
Three Zen Poets

Ikkyu

I Hate Incense
A master’s handiwork cannot be measured

But still priests wag their tongues explaining the “Way” and babbling about “Zen.”

This old monk has never cared for false piety

And my nose wrinkles at the dark smell of incense before the Buddha.

A Fisherman
Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.

A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.

Dusk rain on the river, the moon peeking in and out of the clouds;

Elegant beyond words, he chants his songs night after night.

My Hovel
The world before my eyes is wan and wasted, just like me.

The earth is decrepit, the sky stormy, all the grass withered.

No spring breeze even at this late date,

Just winter clouds swallowing up my tiny reed hut.

A Meal of Fresh Octopus
Lots of arms, just like Kannon the Goddess;

Sacrificed for me, garnished with citron, I revere it so!

The taste of the sea, just divine!

Sorry, Buddha, this is another precept I just cannot keep.
Exhausted with gay pleasures, I embrace my wife.

The narrow path of asceticism is not for me:

My mind runs in the opposite direction.

It is easy to be glib about Zen — I’ll just keep my mouth shut

And rely on love play all the day long.
It is nice to get a glimpse of a lady bathing –

You scrubbed your flower face and cleansed your lovely body

While this old monk sat in the hot water,

Feeling more blessed than even the emperor of China!

To Lady Mori with Deepest Gratitude and Thanks
The tree was barren of leaves but you brought a new spring.

Long green sprouts, verdant flowers, fresh promise.

Mori, if I ever forget my profound gratitude to you,

Let me burn in hell forever.
(Mori was a blind minstrel, and Ikkyu’s young mistress)

_____
Basho


Summer grasses:

all that remains of great soldiers’

imperial dreams
Eaten alive by

lice and fleas — now the horse

beside my pillow pees
Along the roadside,

blossoming wild roses

in my horse’s mouth
Even that old horse

is something to see this

snow-covered morning
On the white poppy,

a butterfly’s torn wing

is a keepsake
The bee emerging

from deep within the peony

departs reluctantly
Crossing long fields,

frozen in its saddle,

my shadow creeps by
A mountain pheasant cry

fills me with fond longing for

father and mother
Slender, so slender

its stalk bends under dew –

little yellow flower
New Year’s first snow — ah –

just barely enough to tilt

the daffodil
In this warm spring rain,

tiny leaves are sprouting

from the eggplant seed
O bush warblers!

Now you’ve shit all over

my rice cake on the porch
For those who proclaim

they’ve grown weary of children,

there are no flowers
Nothing in the cry

of cicadas suggests they

are about to die

_________________
Ryokan

When I was a lad,

I sauntered about town as a gay blade,

Sporting a cloak of the softest down,

And mounted on a splendid chestnut-colored horse.

During the day, I galloped to the city;

At night, I got drunk on peach blossoms by the river.

I never cared about returning home,

Usually ending up, with a big smile on my face, at a pleasure pavilion!
Returning to my native village after many years’ absence:

Ill, I put up at a country inn and listen to the rain.

One robe, one bowl is all I have.

I light incense and strain to sit in meditation;

All night a steady drizzle outside the dark window –

Inside, poignant memories of these long years of pilgrimage.
To My Teacher
An old grave hidden away at the foot of a deserted hill,

Overrun with rank weeks growing unchecked year after year;

There is no one left to tend the tomb,

And only an occasional woodcutter passes by.

Once I was his pupil, a youth with shaggy hair,

Learning deeply from him by the Narrow River.

One morning I set off on my solitary journey

And the years passed between us in silence.

Now I have returned to find him at rest here;

How can I honor his departed spirit?

I pour a dipper of pure water over his tombstone

And offer a silent prayer.

The sun suddenly disappears behind the hill

And I’m enveloped by the roar of the wind in the pines.

I try to pull myself away but cannot;

A flood of tears soaks my sleeves.
In my youth I put aside my studies

And I aspired to be a saint.

Living austerely as a mendicant monk,

I wandered here and there for many springs.

Finally I returned home to settle under a craggy peak.

I live peacefully in a grass hut,

Listening to the birds for music.

Clouds are my best neighbors.

Below a pure spring where I refresh body and mind;

Above, towering pines and oaks that provide shade and brushwood.

Free, so free, day after day –

I never want to leave!
Yes, I’m truly a dunce

Living among trees and plants.

Please don’t question me about illusion and enlightenment –

This old fellow just likes to smile to himself.

I wade across streams with bony legs,

And carry a bag about in fine spring weather.

That’s my life,

And the world owes me nothing.
When all thoughts

Are exhausted

I slip into the woods

And gather

A pile of shepherd’s purse.
Like the little stream

Making its way

Through the mossy crevices

I, too, quietly

Turn clear and transparent.
At dusk

I often climb

To the peak of Kugami.

Deer bellow,

Their voices

Soaked up by

Piles of maple leaves

Lying undisturbed at

The foot of the mountain.
Blending with the wind,

Snow falls;

Blending with the snow,

The wind blows.

By the hearth

I stretch out my legs,

Idling my time away

Confined in this hut.

Counting the days,

I find that February, too,

Has come and gone

Like a dream.
No luck today on my mendicant rounds;

From village to village I dragged myself.

At sunset I find myself with miles of mountains between me and my hut.

The wind tears at my frail body,

And my little bowl looks so forlorn –

Yes this is my chosen path that guides me

Through disappointment and pain, cold and hunger.
My Cracked Wooden Bowl
This treasure was discovered in a bamboo thicket –

I washed the bowl in a spring and then mended it.

After morning meditation, I take my gruel in it;

At night, it serves me soup or rice.

Cracked, worn, weather-beaten, and misshapen

But still of noble stock!
Midsummer –

I walk about with my staff.

Old farmers spot me

And call me over for a drink.

We sit in the fields

using leaves for plates.

Pleasantly drunk and so happy

I drift off peacefully

Sprawled out on a paddy bank.
How can I possibly sleep

This moonlit evening?

Come, my friends,

Let’s sing and dance

All night long.
Stretched out,

Tipsy,

Under the vast sky:

Splendid dreams

Beneath the cherry blossoms.
Wild roses,

Plucked from fields

Full of croaking frogs:

Float them in your wine

And enjoy every minute!
For Children Killed in a Smallpox Epidemic
When spring arrives

From every tree tip

Flowers will bloom,

But those children

Who fell with last autumn’s leaves

Will never return.
I watch people in the world

Throw away their lives lusting after things,

Never able to satisfy their desires,

Falling into deeper despair

And torturing themselves.

Even if they get what they want

How long will they be able to enjoy it?

For one heavenly pleasure

They suffer ten torments of hell,

Binding themselves more firmly to the grindstone.

Such people are like monkeys

Frantically grasping for the moon in the water

And then falling into a whirlpool.

How endlessly those caught up in the floating world suffer.

Despite myself, I fret over them all night

And cannot staunch my flow of tears.
The wind has settled, the blossoms have fallen;

Birds sing, the mountains grow dark –

This is the wondrous power of Buddhism.
In a dilapidated three-room hut

I’ve grown old and tired;

This winter cold is the

Worst I’ve ever suffered through.

I sip thin gruel, waiting for the

Freezing night to pass.

Can I last until spring finally arrives?

Unable to beg for rice,

How will I survive the chill?

Even meditation helps no longer;

Nothing left to do but compose poems

In memory of deceased friends.
“When, when?” I sighed.

The one I longed for

Has finally come;

With her now,

I have all that I need.
(Written to the nun Teishin, his young mistress.)
My legacy –

What will it be?

Flowers in spring,

The cuckoo in summer,

And the crimson maples

Of autumn…

May Your Day Be Bright!