Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim - Chin'gak Kuksa Hyesim, Ian Haight, T'ae-yong Ho

When I signed up for this tour to review this book, I had no idea that not only would I be reading a wonderful book of poems, but would be getting a history lesson as well. Hyesim (Chin'gak Kuksa Hyesim, 1178 - 1234) was the first Zen Master dedicated to poetry in Korea. Hyesim was a monk and a scholar who became the Chief Abbot of Songgwang Temple in 1210. He was a prolific writer, penning such works as The Enlightened Mind, The Sayings of Chin'gak Kuksa of the Chogye Order, Readings of the Diamond Sutra, Elements of Son School, and Poems by Muuja.


I have always loved poetry. I'm especially fond of poems that have a motivational or inspirational nature. Many of Hyesim's poems are meant to enlighten and inspire. I enjoyed reading his poems. The poems about nature seemed to paint a picture in my mind. However, the inspirational poems were my favorites. Here are a few that I especially loved...


The Delight of Contentment

Being rich and noble, like a floating cloud, means what to me?

Following one's sphere in life is in itself beautiful.

If I have no worries, why do I need wine?

To achieve a tranquil heart is to have made a home.

Small Pond

No Wind, no rippling:

the surface, reflecting all, fills my eyes.

What need is there for so many words?

Observing one another is enough.

Again, a Poem Given at Departure

The somber sky portends rain--

the miserable mountain bears a weary face.

Fortunately, friends of the same practice release clasped hands easily--

but with such heartfelt friendship, it is difficult not to shed tears.

Water Clock 

A breeze of winter--

the months of this year draw to an end. 

Every leaf in a forest eventually falls, yellowing a mountain--

only pine and bamboo retain an inborn breath of emerald.

How many years will a human live?

Time is fleet as lightning.

Details of self ought to be examined--

then the empty dream will not endure.