Wayfaring Poet Profile: Stonehouse
32:22 / dedicated, with deep gratitude, to the life work of Red Pine (Bill Porter)
Greetings Good Travelers and Wayfarers:
In this month’s podcast episode of The Poet’s Dreamingbody, we explore one of my favorite poets in the Chinese branch of the Wayfaring poet tradition: Shiwu (石屋), or Stonehouse (1272–1352), a Chan (Zen) monk who abandoned the monastic path to embark on over forty years of solitary hermit practice in the mountains of China.
According to the writings of Stonehouse himself, we might not have any of his poems if it weren’t for a group of Chan monks:
Here in the woods, I have lots of free time. When I don’t spend it sleeping, I enjoy composing poems. But with paper and ink so scarce, I haven’t thought about writing them down. Now some Zen monks have asked me to record what I find of interest on this mountain. I have sat here quietly and let my brush fly. Suddenly this volume is full. I close it and send it back down with admonition not to try singing these poems. Only if you sit on them will they do you any good. — Stonehouse, from The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse, translation and commentary by Red Pine
We also wouldn’t have any of Stonehouse’s poems here in the West if it weren’t for the tireless work of Master Red Pine, a prolific translator of Chinese poetry (including The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain), a number of Buddhist sutras including The Diamond Sutra, The Lankavatara Sutra, two Pure Land sutras (in Why Not Paradise: The Pure Land of Amitahba Buddha), and his own translation of the classic Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching. He is also the author of Road To Heaven: Encounter with Chinese Hermits and Finding Them Gone: Visiting China’s Poets of the Past under his birth name, Bill Porter.
This podcast episode is dedicated to Red Pine.
If you are interested in diving deeper into the Red Pine translations of Stonehouse (which include voluminous insightful notes on all of the poems, stories, and teachings) look up:
The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a 14th-Century Chinese Hermit, translated by Red Pine
The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse, translation and commentary by Red Pine
SOUNDWORLD OF EPISODE
Sherry Finzer / The Beginning / Heart Dance Records
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