Distant Holy Man

  • onDecember 21, 2017
  • Vol.38 Winter 2017
  • byCho Oh-hyun
For Nirvana: 108 Zen Sijo Poems
Tr. Heinz Insu Fenkl

Today, this one day,

on this one day called today      


I saw the whole of the sun rise

and saw it all set


Nothing more to see—

a swarm of gnats laying eggs, dying


I am still alive,

long past my time to die,


But consider—today, I don’t feel

as if I’ve lived even this single day


He may live a thousand years,

but the holy man


Is but a distant cloud of gnats


Translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl
From For Nirvana: 108 Zen Sijo Poems.
Translation copyright © 2016 Heinz Insu Fenkl.
Reprinted with the permission of Columbia University Press, New York.