(15/07/56 / Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare, Eire.)

' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Empty Field - Haiku Sequence(For Mr.N. Of O' S)

Empty field except
clouds grazing at its centre
somewhere far off...sheep.


Empty field except
for the colours green...blue & white
creating a scene.


Empty field except
for the silence being shattered
by the big dog’s bark

Empty field except
invisible voices call
“Where are you..? ” “I’...lost! ”


Empty field except
for an oversized unseen
big green frog: “...ribbit! ”


Empty field except
for a cow exiting now
the scene by a tail


Empty field except
for a cow now entering
the scene by a nose


Empty field except
for the well concealed couple
making out in hedge


Empty field just
waiting for us to come in
to keep it in mind


Empty field full now
with clouds, a sheep’s bleat, laughter
& two lowing cows


Empty field full to
the brim with such memories
colouring it in.


Field empty now
because we have left...does it still
exist...now we’ve gone?


Clouds migrate from field
to field occasionally
getting caught on top
of people’s heads in photo
or trapped in a mesh of trees.



Mountain empty of people
but somewhere...invisible voices
Buddha’s rays penetrate dense forest
greener again...illumination of lichen.



Tourist mountain people & their litter
everywhere to be seen...obscenly obese.
Old poem in my hand penetrates my mind
its words an illumination of green lichen.


The EMPTY FIELD haiku sequence came about with my efforts to translate(rather badly I fear) Wang Wei’s famous DEER PARK.

The failure of this(nothing goes to waste...it being all being grist to the mill) then provoked me to write my tanka about the grazing clouds and the invisible sheep which then propelled me into writing haiku about an empty field where nothing is apparently happening...or it would appear so.

And so by indirections I found directions out as Mr. Shakes so succinctly puts it.

LU ZHÁI - Wang Wei(c.700-761) Tang Dynasty

These little lines(over 1200 years old) enduring the transformation of translations through time after time until finally arriving in my mind and using my words much as a hermit crab would take up residence in an old shell or broken pot on the seabed of my mind. My words may not be a perfect home but it is enough that these lines have agreed to take up residence in my mind if even for the briefest time illuminating words of mine.


Kong shan bu jian rén
Dan wén rén yo xiang
Fan jing(ying) ru shen lín
Fu shao qing tái shang


Empty mountain (negative) to see people

But to hear people words sound

To return bright(ness) to enter deep forest

To return to shine green lichen above
Again to reflect blue/black moss on top


Wang Wei was a fervent Buddhist and in the Mahayana texts the Western Paradise(being the domain of the Amida Buddha) crops up every now and then..it being the place of the setting sun where one desires to be reborn.

Hence the brightness or sunlight in the original I have translated as Buddha’s rays.

I also stand the mountain in its own magnificence and have it empty of people.

I had the most trouble with the returning/shining aspect and have taken the liberty to express it as greener again as if it were already green but made even more so by this dying light. And of course we along with the lichen are...illuminated.

I couldn't help but stick it into a future where it is nothing but a tourist trap...come and see where the Buddha gave his first sermon. Roll up!

A translation is an agreeing to live with the imperfections of your perfections or the perfections of your imperfections.

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Comments (2)

Thanks for this, Donall, I found your explanations fascinating. Your empty field sequence is sublime - such a soothing read for a Sunday evening.
A translation is an agreeing to live with the imperfections of your perfections or the perfections of your imperfections. Beautifuly put, in an empty field..............yet full of wonder