One day, a solitary man
was brought before the King.
From the dazzling throne
the Monarch looked down upon him
and wanted to know
what elements made up the life
of this strange being…
Indulgent and patriarchal,
the King began with a gentle question:
Do you have a name?
A homeland, by any chance?
,,The whole world is where I live.”
Why does such bitterness
blossom in your voice?
Are you a free man or a slave?
,,I am free, yes, but, sad to say,
Sire, I am a poet!”
Write, Beneditino, far from
the sterile bustle of the street! In the intimacy
of the cloister, with patience and calm,
work and persist and polish and suffer and sweat!
But let the effort employed be disguised in the form;
and the living device contrived
in such a way that the image appear bare,
rich but sober, like a Greek temple.
Let the construction not reveal the anguish of the master.
And, being natural, let the effect be pleasing,
without recalling the framework of the building:
For Beauty, twin’ of Truth,
pure Art, the enemy of artifice,
is strength and grace in simplicity.
A good poet is someone who can make a verse interesting.
A master is someone whose verse does not sound interesting
but has a flavor deep inside.
A still higher stage is when a poet has reached the utmost of the art
and his poem presents
neither color nor fragrance.
Only at that stage one can be accredited
as having obtained
the quintessence of haikai.
Do not expect the final answer,
It is not given in this life.
But the ear of the poet clearly catches
The distant thunder on his road.
He has bent his head attentively,
Eagerly, he takes it in, fine-strung, he waits,
And already he can hear it:
It flowers, it basks in bliss, it grows….
And nearer yet, the premonition stronger,
But, Ah! The expectation is unbearable…
And the seer falls, struck dumb,
Hearing the thunder close upon the road.
You rained down poems on the whole world
like a dark monsoon-cloud,
but red flames leaping toward heaven
burn the lips that once sang
of an arrow
that bites the dust.
One told me, Heracleitus, of thy death
and brought me to tears,
and I remembered how often
we two in talking put the sun to rest.
Thou, methinks, Halicarnasian friend,
art ashes long and long ago; but thy nightingales live still,
whereon Hades, snatcher of all things, shall not lay his hand.