from the 1980 album “Zen Poems: Read by Lucien Stryk”
“Ox bridle tossed, vows taken, I’m robed and shaven clean. You ask why Bodhidharma came east—Staff thrust out, I hum like mad.”
From this poem by Zen master Reito (666-760), Lucien Stryk leads us into an amazing Zen poem journey that spans nearly 1,500 years—from the early Tang Dynasty in China (618-907) to contemporary Japan. A variety of types are presented, including enlightenment poems and death poems of the Chinese Zen masters, poems of the Japanese Zen masters, poems by contemporary Japanese Zen master Shinkichi Takahashi (1901-1987), and by Lucien Stryk (1924— ) himself. Stryk is a widely published Polish-American Zen poet, translator, and former English professor at Northern Illinois University.