The questions of how to begin and what to think are matters for one’s own heart to resolve. Of oneself, for oneself – you must be your own teacher.Sen No Rikyu
An ever-twilight, midsummer wood, save for the towering, lakeside Pines and the Cherry blossoms. A meadow in the midst of this floral menagerie, entered by Oberon and Titania, followed by their Fey court. Entering the opposite end, the Dragon King and his kami court. Meeting at the center, these supernaturals stare each other down in formality, before both Lords break into laughter, and embrace. They came for leisure and sport, after all, not war. Above all, they came for a contest.
even the Gods
Their champions both hailed from obscure stock. Neither lay claim to formal education; both apprenticed in their arts until they mastered them. And their mastery changed their worlds, and the world. Now, from beyond the Veil, The Fey monarch and Kami king summon them to literary battle.
The victor of this battle? The poet judged so accomplished that he makes immortals weep for mortal death.
William Shakespeare steps forth. With the practiced bow of a veteran of the stage, he greets the courts and his rival. Without delay, he delivers his best:
That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Then Basho comes. With a simple bow of his own to courts and foil, He recites the apex of his masterpiece:
Here (Hiraizumi) three generations of the Fujiwara clan passed as though in a dream. The great outer gates lay in runis. Where Hidehira’s manor stood, rice fields grew. Only Mount Kinkei remained. I climbed the hill where Yoshitsune died; I saw the Kitakami, a broad stream flowing down through the Nambu plain, the Koromo River circling Isumi Castle below the hill before joining the Kitakami. The ancient ruins of Yasuhira–from the end of the Golden Era–lie out beyond the Koromo Barrier, where they stood guard against the Ainu people. The faithful elite remained bound to the castle–for all their valor, reduced to ordinary grass…
We sat a while, our hats for seat, seeing it all through tears.
all that remains of great soldiers’
The masters’ duel ends. The courts immortal, their eyes glistening with fresh tears, gaze expectantly upon the judge. They wait. Who is this, whom Fey and Kami trust to settle their sport? Who is this that decides which master moves the unmoved hearts of immortals?
Who else but you?
as ink dries
I’m hosting Haibun Monday today, where we experience the Master Poets Basho and Shakespeare. The Pub is open! Come Join us!