"I have finally returned
To my home in the village;
It has fallen into ruin,
Nothing but fallen leaves
In the garden and along the fence.
Brushed by Ryokan"
Ikkyu, Basho and Ryokan are the best known Japanese poets, at home and abroad. After years of wandering all over as a mendicant monk, Ryokan drifted back to his native place in Niigata. This poem records his emotions upon returning home.
Ryokan spent the next 30 years in Niigata living in various hermitages, begging for his food, drinking sake with farmers, helping housewives with their chores, playing marbles with geisha, and joining in games with children. There are dozens of tales told of Ryokan. Perhaps the most famous:
A thief broke into Ryokan’s weather beaten hut. Finding nothing of value, out of frustration he took Ryokan’s ragged sleeping quilt and his meditation cushion. When Ryokan returned to his hut and realized what happened, he composed this haiku.
The thief left it behind—
At the window.
He wrote thousands of poems in the wispy calligraphy we see here. His brushwork is treasured for its purity and warmth. This poem is #1185 in Ryokan’s collected works. Ryokan’s biography is available in Extraordinary Zen Masters (Echo Point Press) by John Stevens.
Age: Edo Period 18th-19th Century
Size: painting 10-7/8" x 3-7/8" (28 x 10 cm), overall 53-3/4" x 14" (136 x 35 cm)
Media: Ink on paper
Price: $15,000.00 USD