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.