Education About Asia

Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan, and Lotus Moon: The Poetry of Rengetsu

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Between the Floating Mist

Poems of Ryōkan

TRANSLATED BY DENNIS MALONEY AND HIDEO SHIRO

BUFFALO, NY: WHITE PINE PRESS, 2009

96 PAGES, ISBN 978-1935210054, PAPERBACK

Lotus Moon

The Poetry of Rengetsu

TRANSLATED BY JOHN STEVENS

BUFFALO, NY: WHITEPINEPRESS, 2005

130 PAGES, ISBN 978-1893996366, PAPERBACK


In addition to its importance as a major world religion, Buddhism has produced one of the longest-running, most multifaceted, and brilliantly textured literary cultures, spanning nearly two millennia and covering the full range of the Asian continent. Over the last three centuries or so, Buddhist literature has also exerted increasing influence on authors in the West. Henry David Thoreau owned a copy of Robert Spence Hardy’s A Manual of Budhism[sic]. Gary Snyder, Alan Ginsberg, and Jane Hirshfield have each penned a poetic sutra. Jack Kerouac wrote a biography of the Buddha, and a host of recent books hail the emergence of a distinctly American Buddhist literature in the twentieth century. Closer to home, YouTube is an easy way to access the astounding world of Buddhist hip-hop lyricism. All of which is to say that these delicate, delightful poems of nineteenth-century Japanese hermits are not nearly as distant from the minds of our students as it may seem at first blush. Indeed, Lotus Moon and Between the Floating Mist, both part of White Pine Press’s Companions for the Journey Series, should prove remarkably accessible to students at the middle school level and above, and each of the slender volumes could easily be adapted for teaching.