I said, “The evening sun the color of ancient gold,”
and your eyes reproach me:
Why seize on despicable gold
to compare to this solemn evening sun?
The family of Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) practiced Pure Land Buddhism, a prominent branch of Mahayana Buddhism. In 1915, the poet shook the foundations of their relative’s faith when he decided to convert to Nichiren Buddhism, another branch. Such conversion was prompted by the Lotus Sūtra – a deep influence on his poetry, which brims with Buddhist terms without actually delving into essential notions. I had to return to some texts since I had forgotten some concepts.
My rating is based on my inability to relate to most of Miyazawa’s poems. Perhaps their complexity exceeded my understanding and a clear image turned into labyrinthine symbolism. But I did find some enjoyment. Some of his poems are imbued with the serene expressions of nature, with the sense of a challenging yet reachable enlightenment. With the verifiable elements of science, the volatile human nature, and religion trying to build bridges between them.
Other poems are infused with the monochromatic presence of death. Miyazawa's verse was deeply affected by the demise of his younger sister, Toshi, on November 27, 1922. That same day, he wrote three poems. With that loneliness you must make music. Always.
This collection of somewhat disjointed thoughts started with an excerpt of a poem called "Mr. Pamirs the Scholar Takes a Walk." I marveled at the juxtaposition of simple yet sophisticated visuals which express an ideal version of ourselves. A faithful portrait of the chasm between a sublime sight and a worldly kingdom, transient by definition. Someone subscribing to such values is a rare treasure. The rest is just noise.
* Picture: Kuon-ji, a temple founded by Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist priest, in 1281.