Pond Song 4.54
What must the origin be like given the doubleness, both the arising and the transcience in all passing. G&B 253
distant crows sound horizon__snow crust underfoot
ducks headsdown in silence__tide pools backlit
looking’s just not enough__says Meng Hao-jan
winter light withholds nothing__gives with abandon
9 thoughts on ““looking’s just not enough””
That’s a memorable, and thought-provoking, remark Tom: looking’s just not enough.
that’s a quote from a translation of Meng by David Hinton! I’m hoping the poem gives it an experiential context.
Just finished reading an interview with David Hinton in the latest issue of The Sun……I didn’t realize that the poets he translates mostly came from the top 1percent of society, were relatively well-off, most often bureaucrats who retired to the rivers-and-mountains to meditate, garden, make art, take walks, and drink wine with friends….
oh yes, Cynthia! I suppose that ruffles our modern feathers. But it’s good enough as an excuse not to read them. I’m grateful Basho had no such prejudices! Not to mention Hinton! The mere acquisition of the skill set was part of the education of the political and civic life in ancient China; the metaphysics came with the training in verse. So when the winds of change blew strong, the civil servant could fall back on his estates and lead the life of a poet, and that usually meant a Taoist, turning over the pages of the Zhuangzi just as Horace turned over his Socratic pages. Don’t you just love literary history?
Yes I do love history, of all kinds. The notion of poets as elites doesn’t ruffle my feathers at all…it was ever so, both here and there….there are plenty of other good reasons not to read a poet!
If you read Hinton’s introductions to the various poets you will see that very often the vicissitudes of political life did in fact place the poets in harm’s way, the retirements could be serial and brutal, poverty was often the end-game, and Taoism’s theme of poverty and emptiness came to be lived in ways none of them could foresee.
They could not foresee, and that would be gratifying, to those who thought about the Tao …without any -ism attached….
Looking’s not enough and the winter light gives with abandon. Somehow there are ways for looking to be more than looking. How? Perhaps looking as openness, as receptivity not just the stare of ‘looking’, can enable us to take part in that stark but generous giving of December pond- light?
Great comment. Funny how these very short poems are like essays!