A couple years ago I did a post on this blog publishing the death poems of several famous Soto Zen priests. The death palms of these particulars Soto Zen masters are not easy to find in one place but if you catalog back into my blog you’ll find them there people like Dogan his teacher and his students. I have decided to publish a few more of those death poems by perhaps some lesser-known Zen masters. Some will take the traditional form of the Japanese death poem and others will simply be the last words of people who may or may not have been. Zen or otherwise.
2. Bassui Tokusho, 20th of January, 1387
Look straight ahead. What's there?
If you see it as it is
You will never err
3. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, d. 1863
Let us cross over the river and sit in the shade of the trees.
Killed in error by his own troops at the battle of Chancellorsville during the US Civil War.
4. The last words spoken by Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes : BBC production, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. 1994, Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Brett died the following year 1995.
"What is the meaning of it, Watson? What is the object of this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must have a purpose, or our universe has no meaning, and that is unthinkable. But what purpose? That is humanity’s great problem, to which reason so far, has no answer."
5. Dairin Soto , 27th day of January 1568
My whole life I've sharpened my sword
And now, face to face with death
I unsheathe it, and lo ----
The blade is broken ----
5. Dokyo Etan, 6th of October 1721
at the age of 80
Here in the shadow of death it is hard
To utter the final word
I'll only say, then
6. Doyu , 5th of January 1256
In all my six and fifty years
No miracles occurred.
7. Enni Ben'en
All my Life I taught Zen to the people ---
Nine and seventy years
He who sees not things as they are
Will never know Zen
8. ~~ James Joyce, writer, d. 1941
" Does nobody understand? "
9. ~~ Oscar Wilde, writer, d. November 30, 1900
"Either that wallpaper goes, or I do."
10. Koju, d. 25th of July, 1806
" And if I do
Become a spirit ----
The Party's over. "
11. ~~ Pancho Villa, Mexican revolutionary, d. 1923
" Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something. "
12. Takuro, d. 16th of April 1866
Soon I shall hear
The cuckoo's voice
and liven up.
And for the last quote for my dear Carol.
13. ~~ Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian, d. 1702
" I am about to -- or I am going to -- die: either expression is correct. "