Monday, September 30, 2002

Gideon Strauss linked to a poem by Kodojin I posted last week. Kodojin was a near-contemporary Japanese poet (1865-1944) who lived in a time when that nation's ancient traditions were being reshaped to create a modern (and militarist) Japan. Kodojin self-consciously moved against this stream, adhering to traditions of scholarship, art and poetry, that went back thousands of years into Asian history. As one might imagine, this placed him out of step in his own time, and virtually forgotten in ours. Stephen Addis, a noted scholar, artist, potter and calligrapher, rediscovered Kodojin's work and brought it to an English speaking public in the volume Old Taoist: The Life, Art and Poetry of Kodojin. Many of Kodojin's poems were written in classical Chinese, and translated for this volume by Jonathan Chaves, himself a noted scholar of Chinese literature and a fellow parishioner at St. Mary's Orthodox Church. Here is his translation of one of my favorite poems by Kodojin, a description of the good life for the country dweller who also loves literature:

Fertile fields enrich my household;
a good wife completes my home.
Auspicious trees grow along my paths;
wonderful books fill my carts.

I have edited the 9/23 post to include links on Amazon to the books I borrowed the poems from, in case you want to add them to your own cart.

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