Yes, I’m truly a dunce,
living among trees and plants.
Please don’t question me about
illusion and enlightenment,
this old fellow just likes to smile to himself.
I wade across streams with bony legs
and carry a bag about in fine spring weather.
That’s my life,
and the world owes me nothing.
Ryokan Taigu, born in 1758, was a Zen monk, poet and calligraphist who lived a quiet life in his native Japan. A humble man, he enjoyed getting drunk on the local wine, which inspired him to write. He also wrote this famous haiku after a thief who raided his abode failed to find anything worth stealing:“The thief left it behind …
at my window”
Ryokan died peacefully in 1831, ‘as if falling asleep’.