Chinese Poetry, The Masters

Swift Clouds and the Jewel Hare

This short poem by an 11th century Chinese poet called Gen of Kohoin is written as an uncomplaining, almost joyful anticipation of death. The Jewel Hare he refers to in the last line is a classic image for the moon, after the myth of the rabbit on the moon’s face.


At ninety-nine, snowy side-locks,
Beard, a thin-shouldered, fur-robed one
Has cut all earthly ties. Laughing, I point
To the swift clouds. Jewel Hare blazes over all.


Gen of Kohoin (d. 1085)
From: Zen Poems of China and Japan: The Crane’s Bill