I’ve been reading a little poetry of an evening, much of it from the collection “The Poetry of Zen,” compiled by J.P. Seaton and Sam Hamill, and recently stumbled across a couple works that, alas, confirm my suspicions that the assholistic Reign of the Morons Charles P. Pierce has been following so assiduously is nothing new.
The first is “Bad Government,” from T’ang dynasty poet and painter Kuan Hsiu (832-912):
Sleet and rain, as if the pot were boiling.
Winds whack like the crack of an axe.
An old man, an old old man,
at sunset, crept into my hut.
He sighed. He sighed as if to himself,
“These rulers, so cruel. Why, tell me
why they must steal till we starve,
then slice the skin from our bones?
For a song from some beauty,
they’ll go back on sworn words;
for a song from some tart,
they’ll tear down our huts;
for a sweet song or two,
they’ll slaughter ten thousand like me,
like you. Weep as you will,
let your hair turn white,
let your whole clan go hungry . . .
no good wind will blow,
no gentle breeze
Lord Locust Plague and Baron Bandit Bug,
one east, one west, one north, one south.
The second is an untitled piece from the mythical Han Shan, an eighth-century Chinese construct I first heard of via Jack Kerouac in “The Dharma Bums”:
I stand here and watch the people of this world:
all against one and one against all,
angry, arguing, plotting and scheming.
Then one day, suddenly, they die.
And each gets one plot of ground:
four feet wide, six feet long.
If you can scheme your way out of that plot,
I’ll set the stone that immortalizes your name.