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Crow With No Mouth: Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master

4.49  ·  Rating Details ·  292 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
When Zen master Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481) was appointed headmaster of the great temple at Kyoto, he lasted nine days before denouncing the rampant hypocrisy he saw among the monks there. He in turn invited them to look for him in the sake parlors of the Pleasure Quarters. A Zen monk-poet-calligrapher-musician, he dared to write about the joys of erotic love, along with more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published 2000 by Copper Canyon (first published 1989)
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Esteban del Mal
Oct 06, 2010 Esteban del Mal rated it really liked it
Recommended to Esteban by: Either Tricycle or Shambhala Sun
From the text:

sin like a madman until you can't do anything else
no room for any more

fuck flattery success money
all I do is sit back suck my thumb

something in us always wants to cry out
someone we love knows hears

if you don't break rules you're an ass not human
women start us passion comes and goes until death

only one koan matters
Ty Melgren
Sep 04, 2012 Ty Melgren rated it liked it
angsty facebook status updates from six hundred years ago:

my gray cat jumped up just as I lifted this spoon
we're born we die

suddenly nothing but grief
so I put on my father's old ripped raincoat

I'm up here in the hills starving myself
but I'll come down for you

nobody knows I'm a storm I'm
dawn on the mountain twilight on the town
Dec 12, 2007 Nicola rated it it was amazing
i had a bit of glue on my hand when i read this book.

best to read this at night; something manic about these couplets: an insomniac's quickening mind (without the coming down, the fatigue):

"night after night after night stay up all night
nothing but your own night"

hit me on many levels. what to do with this body: a Zen monk in the whorehouse. the loss of a father. crows.

Apr 10, 2009 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Fifteenth Century Zen master Ikkyu was the "true man of no rank..whose successive conditions are the same nameless states of moment-by-moment states of fluid identity we sense in ourselves..." Here are two poems:

all the bad things I do will go up in smoke
and so will I

my monk friend has a weird endearing habit
he weaves sandals and leaves them secretly by the roadside
Jul 11, 2016 Corey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intense, earthy, compact, occasionally enlightening, occasionally mind-blowing.
"her mouth played with my cock
the way a cloud plays with the sky"

"a crazy lecher shuttling between whorehouse and bar
this past master paints south north east west with his cock"

"don’t hesitate get laid that’s wisdom
sitting around chanting what crap"

"life’s like climbing knife-trees hills with swords sticking up
day and night something stabs you"

"inside the koan clear mind
gashes the great darkness"

"I love taking my new girl blind Mori on a spring picnic
I love seeing her exquisite fr
May 03, 2015 d rated it it was amazing

pleasure pain are equal in a clear heart
no mountain hides the moon

Ikkyu. El más postpunk de todos los budistas que he leído en mi vida es este monje zen del 1400. La desconfianza en el lenguaje de los hombres, el vitalismo nsfw, el acá-y-ahora en este mundo de rocío. La traducción al inglés es anacrónica y deliciosa, todo lo escrito parece que lo escribió ayer (gran decisión de traducción: one autumn night’s a thousand centuries). Librito de cabecera, tercera vez que lo leo. Volveré, volveré
Alexandru Jr.
Nov 02, 2013 Alexandru Jr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
along with pessoa, my favorite dead poet.

a text which entered my memory and on which i dwelt the whole day:

"don’t worry please please how many times do I have to say it
there’s no way not to be who you are and where"

in a way, this is exactly what michel henry says, in his phenomenological work. the self-affection of flesh, its inability of being otherwise, its desire to run away from itself and its own suffering, its affective character.

and, of course, his erotic and irreverent poems are antholog
Jul 01, 2013 Ed rated it it was amazing
Someone on Goodreads characterized Ikkyu's poetry as "angsty Facebook status updates from 600 years ago." It's something of an apt description, but doesn't begin to convey the emotional range and philosophical depth of these terse two-line poems, superbly translated by Stephen Berg. All of life is here - the good, bad, and ugly. Ikkyu, a 15th century Zen master and ancestor to the Beats, is not only one of my favorite Japanese poets, but one of my favorite poets, period.
Jul 18, 2012 Shane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read
This is a collection of couplets that overflow with emotion and unending questions. Sometimes these seem to be purposefully arranged to compliment each other, but I have been told this is not the case. Either way, this is a book that will have you re-reading pages and possibly memorizing passages.
Mar 12, 2007 Brian rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Zen masters
While this world is burning
our cat, on the roof of the shed
sleeps on a matress of dried leaves
Don Wentworth
Mar 16, 2017 Don Wentworth rated it it was amazing
Three word review: stunning, incisive, powerful.
Jeff Harrington
Apr 03, 2010 Jeff Harrington rated it it was amazing
A beatnik/obscene translation of the great Zen poet/saint Ikkyu's obscene poetry. Self-effacing, grotesque and marvelous.
Larry Littany Litt
Jun 18, 2017 Larry Littany Litt rated it it was amazing
Ikkyu was the Mad Monk of medieval Japan's Rinzai sect. He was a poet, artist, drinker and womanizer. With all that he was one of the most devoutly charitable monks in the sect. He fought against hypocrisy and crony enlightenment documents. His poetry is unique and deeply personal. He offers us his sexuality and advanced age on a bed of passionately human lust dragging us into his desires and appreciations of Nature and women. I wish there were more translations as well written as Stephen Berg's ...more
Apr 27, 2017 Cindy rated it it was amazing
oh my, such an angry zen poet. Satisfied?
Bernie Gourley
Feb 04, 2015 Bernie Gourley rated it it was amazing
Ikkyū Sōjun was the Howard Stern of Zen masters. Born in 1394, he lived through most of the 15th century. Ikkyū served as a temple’s abbot for less than two weeks before he quit in disgust, vowing to move into a red-light district—apparently he wanted to live among people he found more honest and less hypocritical. The Zen master despised the corruption and snobbery of monastic politics.

Crow with no Mouth is a collection of Ikkyū’s verse, which is largely in the Zen tradition--featuring natural
M.T. Karthik
Apr 15, 2014 M.T. Karthik rated it it was ok
I think this translation is overrated. It seems to me that the vernacularization involved here is subjective to such an extent that you have to "go on the ride" to "get there." It doesn't feel like Ikkyu's words so much as a hip-hop artist bringing them to the people. I guess I didn't really ever get on the ride.
Michael E.
Feb 03, 2017 Michael E. rated it it was amazing
I could have sworn that I reviewed this before. This book is what I read when I want to die, this is the book that keeps me alive. It is beautiful, deep and perverted all at once; and is a beautiful examination of man's psyche who died long before I was born. There is beauty in even the darkest parts of it. Reading it makes me feel like I am touching upon something greater than myself.
Dec 19, 2014 Joy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: serious
I'm marking this as read but as it's 'keet by the bedside book' will never truly be completely read. A modern translation style of a classic Zen Master who always had his feet firmly plated in the beauty of reality. The author, an american poet has now left us, may he has an auspicious rebirth.
Jim Ivy
Feb 24, 2013 Jim Ivy rated it it was amazing
Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481) was a Buddhist zen monk appointed headmaster at Daitokuji, the great temple in Kyoto. After nine days as headmaster, he denounced the hypocrisy among the monks, instead choosing to live within sake parlors. His poetry mixes traditional Zen themes with eroticism and scandalous love and has had a profound influence on Japanese culture.
May 15, 2016 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2016
A collection of the poetry of the 15th century Zen poet who mocked other practitioners of Zen while frequently sake houses and brothels. His poems are at times bawdy, at times full of wisdom, at times simple reflections on a simpler way of life. An excellent introduction to this important and influential poet.
Desmond Beddoe
Oct 15, 2014 Desmond Beddoe rated it it was amazing
Ikkyu's poems, an act of short couplets, are intense, irreverent, erotic, funny and piercing. How can a 15th century Zen master arouse emotions in my reading - I will return again and again to taste the pleasure of his words.
Feb 15, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Ikkyu was so entertaining to read. I love his attitude all the way to the end. His Zen poetry is vulgar and profane, but that's why I loved it. it was really great to have a poetry book that was such a fast read and so entertaining. I will definitely be reading this again.
Cynthia Schmitt
Jul 25, 2016 Cynthia Schmitt rated it it was amazing
This type of Zen Buddhism that Ikkyu had started, has quickly become something I'm holding near and dear to my heart. Mostly short poetry, but it's poignant and simple without killing the passion off that is such a part of who we are as humans.
Jeff Fink
Jan 07, 2013 Jeff Fink rated it really liked it
this man of no rank, clear and obscure.
Robert Rhodes
Mar 28, 2008 Robert Rhodes rated it it was amazing
Magnificent versions of the Zen master
Carlos Mestre
Oct 20, 2011 Carlos Mestre rated it it was ok
Didn't find it interesting, sure, there a couple that are beautiful and express zen views, but the rest seem just sloppy written.
Lawrence Barrow
Mar 14, 2010 Lawrence Barrow rated it liked it
Shockin' behaviour .. scandalous indeed for the Abbot of Daitoku-Ji

but an interesting read nevertheless
Sean A.
Feb 11, 2015 Sean A. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
practical, carnal, zen witticisms and mysticism.
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Ikkyū (1394-1481) was an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist priest and poet. He had a great impact on the infusion of Japanese art and literature with Zen attitudes and ideals.
More about Ikkyu...

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“that stone Buddha deserves all the
birdshit it gets
I wave my skinny arms like a tall
flower in the wind”
“I'd love to give you something
but what would help?”
More quotes…