The following poem is another from Kenneth Rexroth's collection of translations from the Chinese titled "Love and the Turning Year." Westerners often wonder about the Buddhist term, "enlightenment." Many of us assume that enlightenment or "Nirvana" is a state of mind that transports us to an other worldly spiritual realm.This poem, however, seems to imply that enlightenment awaits us in the everyday and the things of this world. The author, Ch'en Yu Yi, lived from 1090 to 1138.


A breach of clear heaven opens
In the clouds. To the Southwest
The River stretches smooth and still.
There are tattered skirts of mist
On the sandbars. On the wall a
Magpie shakes his wet feathers
And scolds. Beyond the rooftops
The thunder is still grumbling.
I decide to profit by
The fresh air and pay myself
A small sum of peace. I hunt
Busily for some fine words
To announce the return of
Good weather, and the splendor
Of the evening, but I have
No one to share them with.
So I sit quietly and watch
The Milky Way light up.
I am suffused with its glow.
All my spirit is illuminated.

Ch'en Yu Yi

Translation by Kenneth Rexroth

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