Saturday, January 12, 2008


For a long time he was a poet.
called him a poet and
women did too.
Surely he was a poet
more than anyone I knew.
Even the pigs and the boars
grunted him poet.

He died returning from a distant land.
In his hut there was not one word of poetry.
Was he a poet who didn't write?
So a poet wrote a poem for him.
As soon as the poem was written,
the wind blew it away.

Then all the poems of the East and the West, old and new,
flew away, swish, swish,
every one followed suit.

--Ko Un
from The Three Way Tavern
trans. Clare You and Richard Silberg


Andrew Shields said...

Man is that guy good!

Reminds me of this one, a poem by Jürgen Theobaldy that I published a translation of in "Smartish Pace" a few years ago:


Every poem can be made
into a swallow.

But you have to fold it right.

Every poem, you know,
even the failures.

Now imagine a sky for them.

Brian Campbell said...

Good poem!

Anonymous said...

That IS kind of nice--pleasantly uncluttered, and reminiscent of the Land of Misfit Toys from one of those old early '60s Christmas claymation specials that had the same voices that were later used on the original Spider-Man!

Brian Campbell said...

RW: I'll take your word for it: what you say is so esoteric that it carries its own kind of authority.