Reflected

by Kobayashi Issa

English version by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto
Original Language Japanese

Reflected
in the dragonfly's eye --
mountains.

-- from Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter, Translated by Lucien Stryk / Translated by Takashi Ikemoto

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/ Photo by tanakawho /


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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

To appreciate the depth of this haiku, imagine the qualities of a dragonfly. It is beautiful, ephemeral, almost ethereal. Its wings are translucent, yet glisten with rainbow colors when they catch the light. On summer days it darts about, almost impossible to catch, then hovers still, in midair, contemplating the world about it.

And its eyes, in Issa's haiku, reflect.

One way to understand this poem is that the dragonfly represents the mind become self aware, resplendent, delighting in its intangible beauty. It darts here and there, and then stabilizes. In recognizing its own insignifigence, it becomes alive to a world of wonder and immensity that surrounds it.

In this way, even a dragonfly's minute eye reflects the grandeur of the mountains. The mind, in its stillness, in recognizing its nothingness, manages to reflect the immensity of eternity.



Recommended Books: Kobayashi Issa

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) Haiku Enlightenment A Box of Zen: Haiku the Poetry of Zen, Koans the Lessons of Zen, Sayings the Wisdom of Zen





Reflected