Fuse Yajiro's Death Poems

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A warrior named Fuse Yajiro grew ill in the spring, and by autumn he was dying. He wrote this poem:

Before long
I shall be a ghost
but just now
how they bite my flesh!
the winds of autumn.

After Writing this poem so full of nostalgia for life, Fuse Yajiro recovered somewhat and lived on for another month. Something must have changed his mind about death, for in a mood of greater detachment, he wrote another death poem:

Seen from
outside creation
earth and sky
aren't worth
a box of matches.

—from Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death (Tuttle, 1998).

vast time image winter 1999

Image: Triangle, Circle, Square, Walter De Maria, stainless steel, 1972. Photo courtesy of The Menil Collection.

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