Japanese Poetry, Poetry, The Masters, Uncategorized

Eihei Dogen – Death Poem

Four and fifty years
I’ve hung the sky with stars.
Now I leap through-
What shattering!

– Eihei Dogen


The tradition of the death poem is rooted in traditions of East Asia and specifically in Zen Buddhism. A death poem was usually composed by a person of standing – a zen master or a warrior – on their deathbed, with the aim of encapsulating their very unique and vivid view of life and all things impermanent at that very loaded moment. This poem is by the Japanese master Eihei Dogen, composed just before he died in 1253.


 

Death Poem

Four and fifty years
I’ve hung the sky with stars.
Now I leap through-
What shattering!

 

Eihei Dogen (1200-1253)

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