Hummed to Myself on My Birthday by Baisaō

The years haven’t
passed me in vain
I’m wrinkled and gnarled
beyond repair,
but all this bother
about a birthday
makes me feel ashamed;
What have I done?
consume good rice
pass idly through
“last night’s dream,”
now, within that dream
I see I’ve reached
my eightieth spring.

From: Waddell, Norman, The Old Tea Seller: Life and Zen Poetry in 18th Century Kyoto, 2008, Counterpoint Press: Berkeley, California, pp. 70-71.

Date: 1754 (original); 2008 (translation)

By: Baisaō (1675-1763)

Translated by: Norman Waddell (19??- )


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