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jisei (death poem)

Updated: Oct 15, 2023

orange moon

sailed-off before

i came to the river

to watch the boats

light begins to turn

time to prepare for fall

love of summer

your glitters

down to the sea you go

Jisei, or death poem, is a genre of poetry established since the early days of Zen where the author, usually a monk or practitioner, would offer their reflection on death when the encounter with it seemed imminent but more broadly would express an understanding or worldview informed by Buddhist teachings; a sentiment deeply imbued with the sense of the the transience of world. It's the realization of the inevitability of death that prompted Buddha's long search for liberation from conditioned and limited human existence that bears the seal of suffering.

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