Book VI of The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem, now available:
BOOK VI, THE ARGUMENT:
“After an arduous journey from Bagan, Burma, up over Lhasa, Tibet to Dunhuang, China, Sun Wukong, the Persona’s able guide, having traveled a different route with Xuanzang, sets down before the Mogao Caves. From there, Sun Wukong takes the Persona to Chang-an, where Du Fu leads him up the many stairs of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Bai Juyi lifts him up to Mt. Tai and the Azure Clouds, imbibing the beverage of the Three Vinegar Drinkers, savoring its harmonizing nature. Heading east, into the rising sun, past the Kingdom of Silla, ancient name of Korea, to the mountains of Lake Biwa, where Basho and Saigyo rested from their long journeys. Like much of Japan, the view of the lake has changed since Basho was interred at the Temple of Gichu-ji on its southern shore. Basho teaches the Persona the oneness of his vision, a Vinegar Drinker in his own way. Saigyo lifts the Persona back to his great metaphor, the moon.”
“In pre-dawn darkness I awoke, realizing
where I was, slipping away under the grove
to the riverside, leaving Sun Wukong
who seemed asleep in a tree above me…”
It was an arduous, overwhemling journey from Bagan, Burma, up over Lhasa, Tibet to Dunhuang. Sun Wukong was my able guide, having traveled the way, though a different route. He led the Persona into the Mogao Caves, his guiding presence understood a fellow seeker. From there, he took the Persona to Chang-an, where Du Fu led him up the many stairs of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, taught him a sweeping view of China, coming down from that tower, a different man. In the courtyard, Bai Juyi lifted him up to Mt. Tai and the Azure Clouds. I imbibed the beverage of the Three Vinegar Drinkers, savored its harmonizing nature.
Not yet back to the moon, but closer, heading east, into the rising sun.
As I’ve journeyed through Angkor Wat and Cambodia, the antinomies have further clarified, on numerous fronts, including modernity. Broadly speaking, I can now see as never before the three major traditions of exclusivism and those of non-exclusivism in sharper detail, contrast, and comparison. That wasn’t really my intention, so I’m surprised that it’s happened. Partly, I think, it’s in the material itself. The attempt to find and give it form brought it all out.
So there are vistas I’ve never realized before. As with Hinduism, the complexities and teachings of Buddhism have been fascinating to study once again, its various interpretations and flavors. Another surprise has been that the Internet has proven an invaluable tool for study and for finding the right historical nuance and detail, especially on the more human level of lived thought and belief, opening the antinomies ever deeper into the soul.
Though only on the way to Dunhuang, now in Bagan, Burma, I look forward to the Mogao Caves, visiting them again, as with Chang-an, and Japan. Saigyo shall guide me back to his great metaphor.
ANN ARBOR—On September 22, 29, and October 6, the theatre company, Apollo’s Troupe, will stage the theater adaptation of the poem, The Parliament of Poets, written by Michigan poet Frederick Glaysher and published in 2012 by Earthrise Press. Continue reading →