Death Poems


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What is a Death Poem?

The death poem is a type of poetry developed primarily in Japan (although also in China and Korea). Most famous examples were written primarily by the samurai (The warrior class). These poems tend to offer a reflection on death—both in general and concerning the imminent death of the author. They are often coupled with meaningful and neutral observations on life. The practice of writing a death poem has its origins in Zen Buddhism, a worldview derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印), specifically that the material world is transient and impermanent (無常), that attachment to it is the cause of suffering (苦), and that ultimately all reality is an emptiness or at least illusory. (空). These poems became associated with the literate, spiritual, and ruling segments of society, as they were customarily composed by a poet, warrior, nobleman, or Buddhist monk


Why Death Poems?

My fascination with these poems, has lead me to compile the most meaningful and interesting among them to me from skilled poets throughout the ages. 


This book is not meant to imply anything about my own life, only my interest in how others interpret and handle the transitory nature of both reality, as we experience it, and mortality, as we handle it. 


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