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Thy shadow, Earth, from Pole to Central Sea,
Now steals along upon the Moon's meek shine
In even monochrome and curving line
Of imperturbable serenity.
Thomas Hardy, At a Lunar Eclipse
It is the very error of the moon,
She comes more near the earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.
William Shakespeare, Othello Act 5 Scene 2
Over the mountains
Of the moon,
Down the valley of the shadow,
Ride, boldly ride
Edgar Allan Poe, Eldorado
Under blue moon I saw you
Echo and the Bunnymen, The Killing Moon
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The Waterboys, The Whole of the Moon
Over Sarusawa Lake when the mist is thick
The rising and setting of the moon
No man knows
Trevor Leggett, Zen and the Ways
What has the sword to do with poetry about the moon? What inspirations is the swordsman expected to get from viewing the moon as the day dawns? What secret is here?
Daisetz T Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture
Last week there was an eclipse of the moon. Over Japan the moon became a faded red.
I have always liked the moon. It's in the name of my blog. Moon in the water. The moon in the water is an idea from zen and Japanese swordsmanship. The moon is free of emotion. Water is free of emotion. If there is a reflection of the moon on the water or of there is no reflection of the moon on the water it's all the same. In zen and in the martial arts your mind must al
There are many that I miss
having sent my last one out a car window
sparking along the road one night, years ago.
Billy Collins, The Best Cigarette
Time takes a cigarette
Puts it in your mouth
David Bowie, Rock 'n' Roll Suicide
Out with the light.
Let the smoke lie back in the dark.
Edwin Morgan, One Cigarette
two hours later
you know where I was found
smokin' in the boys room
Brownsville Station, Smokin' in the Boys Room
My first aikido teacher Kinjo Asoh sensei, 7 dan, was a heavy smoker when he was younger. In the 1950s he smoked 80 cigarettes a day. He said that he was starting to lose the feeling in his hands when he began aikido training. He was 53 years old. He trained every day and twice on Sundays. It was called training 8 days a week in those days. He stopped smoking immediately. He lived until he was 84.
Japan is late for many things. People can still smoke in restaurants and bars. Even today in the 21st century many sports players smoke. And many martial arts teachers smoke. Sometimes a teacher comes into the dojo smelling strongly of cigarette smoke. They don't have to do a technique. They can just breathe on an attacker.
At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting
T S Eliot, The Fire Sermon, from The Wasteland
You talkin' to me?
Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), Taxi Driver
Listen late last night I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi took my girl away.
Counting Crows, Big Yellow Taxi
‘Have you played Hyde Park before?'
‘No but I have walked through it.'
Adam Duritz, Counting Crows
Once I lost my wallet on the bus on the way to training at the Aikikai hombu dojo in Shinjuku. I got off the bus at Nuke Benten Mae bus stop, the closest bus stop. I quickly realized that my wallet wasn't in my back pocket. I had taken it out to pay the bus fare and so maybe it had fallen out of my pocket when I sat down at the back of the bus. Immediately I grabbed a taxi and told the driver to follow the bus. I had enough change in my pocket to cover the minimum fare shown on the meter. The taxi driver was fast and helpful and we caught up with the bus. I jumped on and asked if anyone had seen my wallet. No. I went to the back of the bus to where I had been sitting. A man was sitting there. I asked him if he had seen my wallet but he said no. I looked around and finally asked him to get up so I could look under the seat. He was sitting on the wallet and had obviously planned to keep it. I gave him a long look and he looked embarrassed. But anyway I had my wall
night by Takashi Ogino used under creative commons licence
you were dangerous and angry
red wrists and flashes of light
in the Hungarian bar
Jason Crane, Danger
"You must be indeed a brave man, Sir Priest," the peasant responded, "to lie down here. This place has a bad name - a very bad name. But, as the proverb has it, kunshi aya-yuki ni chikayorazu - the superior man does not needlessly expose himself to peril - and I must assure you, Sir, that it is very dangerous to sleep here."
Lafcadio Hearn, Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things
"Danger! What danger do you foresee?"
Holmes shook his head gravely. "It would cease to be a danger if we could define it," said he.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
Danger knows full well
That Caesar is more dangerous than he.
We are two lions littered in one day,
And I the elder and more terrible,
And Caesar shall go forth.
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar act 2 scene 2
The language of Kyōto, the ancient capital of the country, and until the restoration the residence of the Imperial Court and of literary men, has been considered the standard and of highest authority; but since the restoration and the removal of the capital to Tōkyō, the dialect of the latter has the precedence. Dialectical differences are numerous, and provincialisms and vulgarisms abound. The dialect of Satsuma is said to be so different as not to be intelligible in other parts of the country. ...More
pouring tea by Neko1998 used under creative commons licence
Green is the night and out of madness woven,
The self-same madness of the astronomer
Wallace Stevens, The Candle a Saint
All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn.
e e cummings, All in green went my love riding
He with cowslips pale,
Primrose, and purple lychnis, decked the green
Before my threshold
Mark Akenside, Inscription for a grotto
The art of tea symbolizes simplification, first of all, by an inconspicuous, solitary, thatched hut erected, perhaps, under an old pine tree, as if the hut were part of nature and not specially constructed by human hands.
D T Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture
In my column Indigo Blue I talked about how in Japan green is blue. But sometimes of course green is green.
Green tea and matcha powdered green tea products are very popular in Japan. You can buy matcha latte drinks and matcha ice cream and even matcha chocolate. I mentioned green tea and ichigo ichie 一期一会 before in my blog post Doumo. Arigatou. Gozaimashita.
If you are ever in Kyoto drop in at ran Hotei for some green tea. It's run by a martial artist. In the Daily Yomiuri interview below he talks about Bun Bu Ryo Do 文武両道 ぶんぶりょうどう the way of the pen and the way of the sword - follow them both. It's a nice coincidence because I talked about Bu
Poppies by aj lopes used under creative commons licence
Mountain, river grass and tree grow more barren;
For ten miles winds smell of blood in the fresh battlefield.
Conquering horses do not advance nor do men talk;
Outside Jinzhou Castle I stand in the setting sun.
General Maresuke Nogi
Dead in the gas and smoke and roar of guns,
Dead in a row with the other broken ones
Robert Graves, Last Post
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae, In Flanders Fields
The tragic news touched us like the bitter wind which awakens the trees and the grass sleeping in the remotest corners of the countryside.
Soseki Natsume, Kokoro (on the death of General Nogi)
In Japan a samurai was supposed to be proficient in the arts of war and in the art of literature. Bun Bu Ryo Do ぶんぶりょうどう 文武両道 the way of the pen and the way of the sword - follow them both. The first epigraph at the top of this article is a kanshi Chinese poem by a famous general, Maresuke Nogi.
It is raining outside. I am writing this on 11 November. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the armistice to end the First World War was signed. 11 November is Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom. Ceremonies are usually held on the nearest Sunday. When I was a boy at school in England there was a one
There is an economic and there is a spiritual exile. There are those who left her to seek the bread by which men live and there are others, nay, her most favoured children, who left her to seek in other lands that food of the spirit by which a nation of human beings is sustained in life.
James Joyce, Exiles
The hearts that would have given their blood like water,
Beat heavily beyond the Atlantic roar.
Fair these broad meads - these hoary woods are grand:
But we are exiles from our fathers' land.
Canadian Boat Song
I am a Kentish man, born in a town called Gillingham, two English miles from Rochester, one mile from Chatham, where the King's ships do lie: from the age of twelve years old, I was brought up in Limehouse near London, being Apprentice twelve years to Master Nicholas Diggins; and myself have served for Master and Pilot in her Majesty's ships; and about eleven or twelve years have served the Worshipfull Company of the Barbary Merchants, until the Indish traffic from Holland began, in which Indish traffic I was desirous to make a little experience of the small knowledge which God had given me. So, in the year of our Lord 1598, I was hired for Pilot Major of a fleet of five sails, which was made ready by the Dutch Indish Company.
William Adams, the only foreign samurai
You can't go back home to your family, back home to your c...More
The harder you practice the luckier you get.
Gary Player (professional golfer)
Arma virumque cano - I sing of arms and the man
Virgil, The Aeneid
Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but remember it didn't work for the rabbit.
R E Shay
The Greeks have snatched up their spears.
They have pointed the helms of their ships
Toward the bulwarks of Troy.
Euripides, Iphigeneia in Aulis translated by Hilda Doolittle
Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
Someone I know just got back from a trip to Turkey. I heard about the sense of history at the site of Troy. It is in Anatolia. That area used to be called Asia Minor. And I was given a souvenir. A lucky charm. It is supposed to protect me against the evil eye. The evil eye is a curse or harmful wish. So it is not really a good luck charm. It's to protect me against evil specifically directed at me.
In Japan an amulet or lucky charm is called an omamori おまもり お守り. You can get them at shrines and temples. Some of them are also for specific kinds
you know not if flames bring freedom or death
Cyprian Norwid, Polish poet
What had the Caesars but their thrones?
W B Yeats, Demon and Beast
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom
W H Auden, In Memory of W B Yeats
I believe in the freedom song
I'll choose my own destiny
Thin Lizzy, Freedom Song
We learn history not in order to know how to behave or how to succeed, but to know who we are.
Leszek Kołakowski, Polish philosopher
I think we practice to achieve dynamic movement and a freedom that lies within that movement.
Seishiro Endo Sensei, aikido teacher
The Arab Spring has turned into summer and autumn and winter. Throughout history leaders blinded by hubris have underestimated the groundswell of the desire for freedom.
In the 1980s the fall of communism was also called the Autumn of Nations. Some of the first rumblings began in Poland. The trade union Solidarity sparked a broad-based movement for social change. It's Polish name Solidarność was written in dripping red letters. In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR and advocated a new mood of perestroika, economic restructuring and glasnost, openness. The eventual result was the fall of communism.
The quotation in the first epigraph at the top of this article is from a poem by Cyprian Norwid. The poem is inscribed
There are three reasons I failed. Not enough training. Not enough training. And not enough training.
We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.
Emil Zátopek, Czech long-distance runner
I train for good luck.
Arturo Barrios, Mexican long-distance runner
Even activities that appear fruitless don't necessarily end up so.
"I find," he said, "that one needs some one really pure single activity."
D H Lawrence, Women in Love
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a short book by the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. It is a real pleasure to read. I mentioned him in passing in my column Indigo Blue about the colour blue in Japanese culture. The title is an hommage to a book of short stories by Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Murakami's book is not a novel or a short story. It's a kind of notebook of his thoughts about running and writing and life. Some parts of it were originally written for magazines and it is very readable and very interesting. It is not really a book for runners but if you run you might appreciate it on a different level. Murakami writes very clearly and simply. He is honest about his running and about himself. He is very aware. And writing something down helps him to understand it.