In Professor Donald Keene’s biography about the life of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (足利 義政, 1436 – 1490), includes a poem composed by Yoshimasa, now retired and living in his villa, the Silver Pavilion, ruminating on his former life as the supreme military commander of Japan:
|くやしくぞ||Kuyashiku zo||Today I recall|
|過ぎしうき世を||Sugoshi uki yo wo||The sad world I lived|
|今日ぞ思ふ||Kyou zo omou||With bitter regret —|
|心くまなき||Kokoro kumanaki||My mind serene as I gaze|
|月をながめて||Tsuki wo nagamete||At a moon free of shadows|
Ashikaga no Yoshimasa, arguably one of the most influential people in Japanese art and aesthetics, yet ironically one of the worst military leaders in Japanese history, was never a serious student of Buddhism (though he was nominally ordained as a Rinzai Zen monk) but it’s interesting to hear him regret his life of luxury and power. To me, it is a contrast with Miyazawa Kenji’s famous poem Unbeaten By Rain (雨にも負けず).
A life of honesty poverty is probably better than wealthy lifestyle full of discord.
P.S. Photo taken of the Silver Pavilion, by me, in 2010.