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I recently discovered a short poem written by Manshu (1884-1918), a Chinese poet born in Japan. Manshu became a Buddhist monk at age 12. Shortly thereafter, he was caught sneaking pigeon meat and was kicked out of the temple. He was to become a monk twice more during his short life. Manshu was involved in revolutionary activities against the Qing Dynasty, writing many articles and pamphlets. He joined such revolutionary societies as Hsing Chung Hui (Society for Regenerating China) and Guang Fu hui (Restoration Society). In 1903, after joining the Anti-Russia Volunteer Squad to fight against the Russian invasion of Northeastern China he established a close relationship with Dr. Sun Yat-sen. He was fluent in several languages, including English, French, Japanese, and Sanskrit. He translated the poems of Shelley and Byron and well as Hugo’s Les Miserables. Manshu died at Guangci Hospital in Shanghai on May 2nd, 1918, at the age of 35. His last words were “Every being is sentient, and every sentient being is unimpeded”. Later Dr. Sun Yat-sen donated money and buried him in the north piedmont of Mountain Hushan near the West Lake in Hangzhou. The poem is the ninth piece of his “Ten Occasional Poems” written in 1910, when the poet was 26:
In the spring rain, up the tower, someone is playing a shakuhachi. When am I to return, to watch the tides in Zhejiang? None knows me - wearing my straw sandals and holding a broken alms bowl. How many bridges have I already crossed, with cherry flowers all along the way? _________________ Mastery does not lay in the mastery of technique, but in penetrating the heart of the music. However, he who has not mastered the technique will not penetrate the heart of the music. ~ Hisamatsu Fûyô