Saturday, March 24, 2012

R. H. Blyth: Two Views of a Paper Lantern, Pen Nib, & Eel Catcher

 Two Views of a Paper Lantern (Kano, Nov. 1878)

Yet it still remains true that the squeaking of the nib I write with it has more meaning and less error in it than anything I can write down.
     R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 1, pg 195

a long day--
the eel catcher writes pictures
on the water
     translated by David G. Lanoue


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Anonymous said...

Those squeaks as direct a transcription as one could want; as the sun that makes its own image on the surface of a sheet of photographic paper in a photogram. Will read along with you in high expectation that you will share more findings from volume to volume and squeak to squeak by your remarkable pen.

paper lantern
a squeaky nib
and the eel gets away

Ed Baker said...

just reading
last night

in Nancy Wilson Ross' The World of Zen
(an anthology that should be still in print)

another Blyth translation (of KOJISEI which
is something new to me):

"The song of birds, the voices of insects, are all means of conveying truth to the mind; in flowers and grasses we see messages of the Way. The scholar pure and clear of mind, serene and open of heart, should find in everything what nourishes him."

(by 'scholar' Kojesei/Blyth doesn't mean (our present) Academicians !

ositoperdido said...

I always leave your site a little deeper in thought. Thanks for the good work!


Ed Baker said...


ap-rap-poe to this-all here/now dis
cussion another snippet via R.H. Blyth
out of that same Ross anthology (1960)

Kojisei wrote :

" Men know how to read printed books; they do not know how to read the unprinted ones. They can play on a stringed harp, but not on a stringless one. Applying themselves to the superficial instead of the profound, how should they understand music or poetry?"

is not this
Kojisei the guy who woke up to the sound of that temple bell,
saw the moon reflected in a puddle
instantly saw

beyond his form
his real form ?

my besets inkling re: all of this "zen" is that

the real-rality is nothing
noh thing less than

what we do
from moment to moment ?


that a poem could be
a-got from this-all

thanks to UHAUL:

what I do
from moment to moment
Horse Shit !

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


As always, spot on. What follows from Ed uncannily pulls some quotes from the first Blyth volume that I noted recently on reading through.

More to come.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


The quotes you pulled from Nancy Wilson Ross all come from the first Blyth volume and are ones that I'd noted just recently.

Prescient. So fine.

And, yes, Save the Last Dance for Me.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


So glad to hear. Thanks for letting me know.


Ed Baker said...

also & et cetera
in Ross' book is
that famous Will Petersen essay

and of course
there are yet folks 'ou there' who
know Will & what he did for all

two years before Nancy Ross' book
WP's essay was published in the first run (vol 1 no 4) of Evergreen Review (which I still have a copy of)

Nancy Ross was among other things John Cage's teacher & friend wrote 5 or six novels & lots re: zen and Buddhism. am tracking back into her "stuff"

also in her book a bunch of Paul Reos' 'stuff'
(pen-work and translations...)

of course
there IS nothing like the feel and the smell of those first edition books
by those
First Edition People

(you just might ask Gary Snyder about Will
as GS got to Kyoto around just after Cid and Will got there...

Charles Gramlich said...

The squeaking of the nib. How true. Rather disconcerting though.

Ed Baker said...

speaking of "nibs"

I guess nobody "to there"
Georgia Gibbs ?

whenever she played D.C.
in the 50's we'd go see her

she was called:
Her NIBS Georgia Gibbs

I recall seeing her at the Capital Theater with Jimmy Durante
they were the stage show after the movie

the orchestra rose up out of the pit


Her Nibs in the spot-light singing

"If I knew you were coming
I'd use baked you a cake .... "

Theresa Williams said...

I first discovered Blythe here. There are only a few books that I can say changed me in huge ways...Blythe's did! He showed me new ways to understand haiku. I plan to write an essay on this soon!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Her/His nibs were a regular part of the vocabulary round my house in the formative stages ...

Always thought it some Irish/English moniker, but not finding it's origins anywhere - OED lists it as "obscure" with the example of his royal nibs.



Issa's Untidy Hut said...


I'm queued up to read that essay ...


Theresa Williams said...

Thanks, soon as I finish with the semester I will write it. If it goes online I will let you know!

Ed Baker said...

my friend, Chuck Sandy,
collects and restores old fountain pens

(you know, those ones with the little rubber bladder in-side that holds the ing..
any way

Chuck is a "nibmeister" .. (makes and repairs (pen) nibs)

the nib is/was the tip of the pen like quill pens had
nibs cut into the feather

I think only rich educated kings who signed things &
wrote important docs had these writing tools..