Continuing to use blog –in part– as extension of my journal and habit of scrapbooking, i.e., including quotations / passages from what I happen to be reading and want to preserve. Right now I’m engrossed in “Japanese Death Poems” Written by Zen monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of death. Compiled and edited by Yoel Hoffman. Learned, e.g., that WW II Kamakazi pilots often wrote death poems before embarking on suicide missions. “…warriors dying a martyr’s death…” and writing death poems reflecting bravery and resignation to fate.
Much amusement in this book as well. “But for the deeply rooted conservatism of the Japanese people, their culture would not have preserved itself so well through so many centuries. Such conservatism, however, sometimes borders on blind worship of tradition and customs, with results that are often somewhat ridiculous. We have, for example, the ironic story of ‘a man who asked his poetry teacher to compose a death poem for his wife.’ There is also the story of Narushima, a man who, ‘fearing that he might die without warning and be unable to write a farewell poem,’ began writing death poems at the age of fifty-odd years, sending them for criticism to his poetry master Reizei Tameyasu (18th Cent.). At the age of 80, he wrote:
For eighty years and more,
by the grace of my sovereign
and my parents, I have lived
with a tranquil heart
between the flowers and the moon.
As usual, he sent the poem to Reizei, who replied in this wise: ‘When you reach age ninety, correct the first line.'”