Two hundred years ago Issa heard the morning birds
singing sutras to this suffering world.
I heard them too, this morning, which must mean,
since we will always have a suffering world,
we must also always have a song.
Issa was an 18th century Japanese haiku master and while this short poem doesn’t follow the 5-7-5 syllable format of traditional haiku, for me it has the same essence, that is, a profound message in very few words.
Budbill effortlessly makes the link between the morning birds singing sutras or wisdom teachings, to the suffering world over two hundred years ago and hearing them singing today. This must mean, he says, that there will always be the music of birds since we will always have a suffering world. Such a tender message of compassion for the universal experience of suffering and one of its counterparts, the comforts of the natural world.
I take comfort in the simple acknowledgement that the world suffers and that birds continue to sing – sorrow and beauty – always one with the other, no matter how great the suffering. While this message is simple, it is far from simplistic. Rather it is truth as only poetry can tell it.
I also want to add for your pleasure another deliciously brief and succinct poem of Budbill’s which needs no added words:
Oh, this life,
what is here,