Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

Death Poems!

At the Poetry and the End of Life event, Tova Green, a Hospice Chaplain Volunteer spoke about, and gave us a handout on Japanese Death Poems.

She suggested if we wanted more information, we seek out the book Japanese Death Poems written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death.

Traditionally there are 4 lines with 4 characters, or sometimes 5 lines with 7 characters to each line.

  First Line: An expression of your life up to the time of writing.

  Second Line: Include the number of years you have lived.

  Third Line: What is your feeling as you approach death (or imagine approaching death)?

  Fourth Line: What message would you like to leave behind for others?

Here are two examples she gave.

An old monk at the age of ninety,
at the limits of words and speech
There is no final word.
The moon is bright, the wind is cold.

Nishiari Bokusan

It lights up
as lightly as it fades:
a firefly.

Chine, died in 1688 at age 28

Did you know that hearing is the last sense to go?  Tova Green often reads poems to those who are close to death.

She often reads Mary Oliver's poem In Blackwater Woods.


She also reads this poem by Li-Young Lee, From Blossoms.  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171754

We never know, do we?  I wonder what it would be like to write a death poem each day.  I would think it would keep us awake, aware, grateful, and in grace.

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