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Journey of Life:
Selected Poems of Daisaku Ikeda

Journey of Life
Pub. Year

2014

Publisher

I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd

ISBN

978-I-78076-969-I (hb)
978-I-78076-970-7 (pb)
978-85773-562-I

Journey of Life: Selected Poems of Daisaku Ikeda is a comprehensive collection of Daisaku Ikeda’s poems celebrating both the beauty and struggles of life, but above all, his unwavering hope, belief in human potential and commitment to peace. Born in 1928, Ikeda lived through the senseless devastation of World War II as a teenager, which was also when he first began writing poetry. He has continued composing poetry throughout his life as a way to convey his intimate thoughts, to encourage others, to give expression to Buddhist concepts, critique authority, foster diplomatic relations and share his greatest hopes and dreams. As Ikeda states: “The poetic mind is the source of human imagination and creativity. It imparts hope to our life, . . . gives us dreams, and infuses us with courage; it makes possible harmony and unity and gives us the power . . . to transform our inner world from utter desolation to richness.”

The first of a three-volume compilation based on Ikeda Daisaku zenshu (The Complete Works of Daisaku Ikeda), Journey of Life features fifty selections composed between 1945 and 2007 including: “Blossoms that scatter” (1947), written when Ikeda was seventeen; “Daybreak” (1966), one of a handful of poems published during the 1960s; and “August 15—The dawn of a new day” (2001), one of the more than 200 long-form poems composed between 2000 and 2006.

Over the years Ikeda has written in a wide range of poetic styles, from the compressed poetic forms of the Japanese haiku and waka to a simple vernacular style. In the translator’s note, Andrew Gebert points out that despite his wide range of poetic styles, Ikeda’s use of language maintains a certain stately rhythm that could be considered reflective of his sense of the dignity of ordinary language and experience. Gebert further notes: “While Ikeda’s language may at times be complex or even obscure, it is clear that he does not wish to simply leave his reader with literary puzzles for private contemplation. His desire is to have an impact on his addressee/reader. In many cases he clearly seeks to elicit quite specific emotional valences, such as pity or outrage, or to inspire some form of action.”

The selected poems in Journey of Life touch on a broad range of subject matter including nature, mothers, peace, justice, education and Ikeda’s encounters with world leaders. However, as Dr. Ronald A. Bosco, former president of World Poetry Society Intercontinental, writes in the foreword: “Now in his eighties, and having spent his years engaged in genuine lifetime learning and public advocacy to improve the human condition[,] . . . across the poems gathered here Ikeda admirably demonstrates his unwavering commitment to nurturing the development of a humanistic global culture.” As Ikeda writes in the poem “Salute to poets”:

There is a power in words,
an infinite power
to revive, restore
and make life blaze anew.
There is a life in poetry,
a limitless, eternal life
that can stir and arouse
a society to new vibrancy.

CONTENTS

Foreword by Ronald A. Bosco
Translator’s Note by Andrew Gebert

Poems
Blossoms that scatter
Fuji and the poet
Morigasaki Beach
Offering prayers at Mount Fuji
I offer this to you
Travelers
Spring breezes
Autumn wind
Daybreak
The crisp day we parted
To my young friends
Pampas grass
The people
Weeds
Mother
Song of the crimson dawn
Youth, scale the mountain of kosen-rufu of the twenty-first century
Days of value
My mentor, Josei Toda
Arise, the sun of the century
Toll the bell of the new renaissance
Dunhuang
Like Mount Fuji
The lion’s land, Mother India
Youthful country with a shining future
Be an eternal bastion of peace
Embracing the skies of Kirghiz
Banner of humanism, path of justice
Mother of art, the sunlight of happiness
Shine brilliantly! Crown of the Mother of the Philippines
May the laurels of kings adorn your lives
Like the sun rising
Cosmic traveler, our century’s premier violinist
The sun of jiyu over a new land
Salute to mothers
Unfurl the banner of youth
The poet—warrior of the spirit
May the fragrant laurels of happiness adorn your life
The noble voyage of life
Standing among the ruins of Takiyama Castle
The path to a peaceful world, a garden for humankind
Together holding aloft laurels of the people’s poetry
Eternally radiant champion of humanity
August 15—The dawn of a new day
Salute to the smiling faces of the twenty-first century
The promise of majestic peace
The triumph of the human spirit
Pampas grass, the poet’s friend
In praise of morning glories—a flower loved by all
Salute to poets

Glossary
Bibliography
Appendix