In Basho's day, poems were left on posts. Today -- and not surprisingly
Japan-associated -- we come upon several solitary posts -- nine books
in six years, poems rare and at the same time numerous, by the one author
Cid Corman. He is also editor of the poetry journal Origin, his
present home Kyoto.
Corman is the poet of quiet. "Each man an empire when he enters/a
silence." And again: "There are things to be said. But to
whom tell/the silences?" They're told but he's careful -- o he's
suspicious as the devil of too many words. Of thought, even --
I look in
from the street
I can catch
the loom and
can sense the
"Not to have thought through/anything and yet/only through this
day/to have thought at all."
Poems precise, plain and sweet --
At day's end
in his arms
he steps light --
on his head.
Too many things on the altar.
A petal would do.
Or the ant that stops for a moment at it.
Reminds one of Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow"? To add to
"The Offerings" would be to hold up an extra finger as Basho
said when he found the perfect poem. All in All, which contains
this Corman poem, is in format and contents -- a large book with drawings
(illuminations) by Hidetaka Ohno -- one of the most beautiful books
of our time.
Short poems on large subjects: Wonder, Contentment. But solid. "Either
you are here/or you're not. And/if you are, this is the place to stand"
I picked a
I knelt and
where it was
"to contemplate/contentment" --
Tea in the green fields
served by a monk, green
tea, all that he has.
Through the light thatched roof
the sky gets in and
at the edges more.
In fact, "One gets/to care less for all/save downright good feeling"
The rain steadies
are drummed out, from
the wild depths of
the heart the one
native hears truth.
in the sun light.
And "hands clap/invoking warmth/beating time to/a slow snow."
Little still states. World news: sun on the sill; a bug: "A black
and gold beetle/weighs a grass/to whose end it walks"; the rain
gathering at the end of the pine needle "in sudden water-buds that/as
suddenly descend"; a friend who is quiet:
The hand that I hold to the light
fills. What more do I offer you,
my love, than what the light gives?
Use what there is, the poet tells himself, "the mystery of the
simple seeing." Express suspense. Express listen! --
night knows when
in the ear
In Corman country there is no violence or hate.
Basho's concern was to publish very little, Cid Corman's to publish
and let the leaf stay where it falls. Let those read with joy who are
worthy. And another year more leaves come into being.