The meaning Death through Martial Arts Poetry

Newsletter 909

The Martial Arts Poetry of Dying

Glad to see you’ve recovered from my Xmas poetry.

You know,
some people don’t like poetry,
think it’s sort of stupid.
I,
on the other hand,
am a big fan.

Before cell phones…
men would write poetry to their lady love.
I could quote a few limericks
that would make you blush.

There once was a man from kent,
who’s…

But,
no.
I know you don’t want to hear such filth.

But how about this…
Haiku.

Haiku is very rigid poetry,
a precise number of syllables,
a precise number of lines.
And one of the purposes of Haiku
was for a samurai to declare his death.
That’s right,
the emperor says you’re a chicken gut samurai
and you are going to cut your guts out.

OUCH!

But,
before you do so,
you have a night to contemplate,
a night to write a poem to sum up your death.
One last chance to give your life meaning.

What would you write?

Here’s a couple of samples…

old pond
frog leaps in
water’s sound

Or…

the first cold shower
even the monkey seems to want
a little coat of straw

Or…

how many gallons
of Edo’s rain did you drink,
cuckoo?

These are literary samples,
what do you think a samurai would write?
Here are some samples of American students
trying to duplicate,
or at least describe,
samurai.

Brave as a lion
Fights with no fear or any doubt
Heads into battle

Sneaky as a snake.
The way of the samurai.
Meditation helps.

One swift and strong blow.
No motion of his body.
Yet his sword is still clean.

Not bad, eh?
Well, here’s the real thing.
It doesn’t have the same structure,
but these are real samurai haiku…

Minamoto Yorimasa2
1104-1180

Like a rotten log
half buried in the ground –
my life, which
has not flowered, comes
to this sad end.

Ota Dokan3
1432-1486

Had I not known
that I was dead
already
I would have mourned
my loss of life.

Shiaku Nyûdo5
d.1333

Holding forth this sword
I cut vacuity in twain;
In the midst of the great fire,
a stream of refreshing breeze!

Takemata Hideshige6
(After being defeated by Shibata Katsuie)

Shall Ashura
subdue a man like me?
I shall be born again
and then I’ll cut the head
off Katsuie…

Toyotomi Hideyoshi8
1536-1598

My life
came like dew
disappears like dew.
All of Naniwa
is dream after dream.

Uesugi Kenshin9
1530-1578

Even a life-long prosperity is but one cup of sake;
A life of forty-nine years is passed in a dream;
I know not what life is, nor death.
Year in year out-all but a dream.
Both Heaven and Hell are left behind;
I stand in the moonlit dawn,
Free from clouds of attachment.

Okay,
I hope you took the time to read,
and to consider these things.
Deep thought from men on the cusp of battle, disgrace, death.
What are your thoughts,
I repeat,
if you were to die tomorrow morn…
what would be your poem?
What would sum up your life,
and death,
and you only have a handful of syllables to do it in.

And,
consider,
your time in the martial arts,
the long work outs,
the years of sweat and vigor…
they are all but a haiku,
a fleeting moment
in the vagaries of the universe.

So short
make the best
your time is short.

Here’s the obligatory link…
http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/temple-karate/
It is an old version of karate,
before shotokan,
it was used to defeat samurai in battle.
Enjoy

Now…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And have a great work out!
Al

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/temple-karate/

One Response to The meaning Death through Martial Arts Poetry

  1. There is no turning
    Away from mortality;
    So instead: enter.

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