Like tangled hair,
The circular delusion
Of beginning and end,
When straightened out,
A dream no longer.
'Zen Poetry of Dogen'
By Eihei Dogen (Author), Steven Heine (Translator)
The founder of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism in Japan, which uses sitting meditation as the way to enlightenment, Dogen (1200-53) has previously been known to the West through his prose, especially the Shobogenzo?the first major Buddhist work composed in Japanese. In this ground-breaking work, Heine (religious studies, Florida International Univ.) gives a translation of Dogen's Japanese poetry (waka) and his Chinese verse (kanshi). In discussing the role of poetry in Dogen's approach to Zen, Heine deals with the religio-aesthetic tradition at the time Dogen wrote (medieval Japan), the larger literary context, the importance of form in Dogen's poetry, and his major poetic themes. The author then presents the translations with helpful commentary. As important as it is to have these nature poems together in English for the first time, the work also fills in gaps in our knowledge of Dogen's life. A truly important work; highly recommended for any library.
(David Bourquin, California State Univ., San Bernadino)