this was an actual vision/dream i had one autumn while visiting Daesa-nim some years back now. i had been guiding three South Africans around the village & up the mountain all afternoon. then i was left alone before dinner, the weather fine & my eye lids heavy, i went up to a pavillion Daesa-nim built, from which you can look down into the village below & which is parallel to Deokyu Mt. the following poem is that sleep.
it is true— an interesting coincidence or more perhaps— i am not at liberty to give a concrete explanation to the inexplicable; that is what makes it thus.
this poem has appeared here before at some point, perhaps, but i am quite fond of its imagery, which though mythic in tone, was to me at least very real, so i feel it avoids the charge of being mythological & becomes a document of an odd occurrence & so i thought to post it again.


bong hwang dae

how could i forget the day i saw a phoenix
while resting on one of the pavillions Daesa nim built.
the giant bird beak to claw in a coffin of flames,
a nuclear body snagging at the sky’s lucent blue,
gulping & belching clouds of helium & sulphur it carved around itself,
lungs like gas chambers untroubled by fumes,
it scattered sparks like particles of dust
over the furthest pine slopes of the mountain basin
each time it flapped its wings like horizontal sails.

its caw was so loud i heard glass shattering in the next town
echo through the mountain pass to where i lay
hermetically sealing my ears with finger-plugs,
apoplectic as the phoenix quickly lowered in altitude
until directly over me consuming me in its self-ignited furnace
of gaseous breath & heat— a noise stretching to the pitch
of inchoate static cackling in my brain like a Catherine Wheel.
i later told the dream to Daesa nim
of course he said, that’s the pavillion of the phoenix— bong hwang dae.

Posted by:DPM

DPM is an idea-logue (sic) and object-oriented speculative realist, attempting to be response-able in an irresponse-able society.

9 thoughts on “봉황대 (bong hwang dae) Phoenix Pavillion

  1. I love reading about this astoundingly auspicious vision/omen of yours, it’s great you brought it up again. This omen reminds me of Lot 2 of my public domain Guanyin Spiritual Response Oracle translation (page 16):

    “Lot 2: The Lot of Positive Change (Extreme Auspiciousness)
    金 o o o o

    舊跡宜更改 新事好進程 龍門魚化躍 凡骨作神靈
    The stagnant will be reformed and new undertakings will progress unhindered. Fish will soar through the Dragon Gate and common men will become gods.

    This Lot of Positive Change indicates increased income. As you will lack neither peace nor material security, now is a good time to amass merits and cultivate virtue. The sick and infirm will completely recover and leave their sickbeds. Everything will proceed in accordance with virtue and reason. Moreover, those who have travelled away from home will return to do profound and beneficial things. There will be no shortage of the necessities of life. Just like all flowers bloom during spring, even if a hundred virtuous undertakings are simultaneously carried out, no obstacles will be met and success is assured.

    Translator’s Notes:
    The phrase “common men will become gods” can also refer to spiritual attainments. For instance, the Buddha has said that those who make light offerings can achieve profound wisdom and the innate ability to discern between good and evil.”

    And sure enough, you have travelled abroad, built a profitable inn, found your own poetic style, and engage in various acts of compassion, conservation and advocacy.


    1. You have a sensitive eye for finding relations between your sutras & they circumstances of people you know.
      I have always been interested in the common man as God/gods.

      1. Thanks Daniel!

        Also, the first 2017 issue of Manyroads magazine has just come out, Editor Harris was very kind to publish my Odyssey of Dharmakara poem:

        This issue also includes some fine Haikus and personal stories, and the video section has information on gardening. So there’s a lot of diverse material you’ll be interested in. They are a very generous publication.

        Perhaps you could consider doing a photo essay of Buddhist temples or statues in Jeju and fit them to elegant Haiku Odes and submit for the next issue?

      2. i am very busy with numerous projects currently, so i think i’ll have to politely decline, but thanks for the idea.
        & well done on the publication.

      3. Thanks, and I look forward to your upcoming poems, including the free verse Terza Rima, which I feel will be a masterpiece as you can now paint your vision on good canvas without rigid restrictions.

  2. Daniel, really love the brightness, the powerful graphic descriptions, the life and the color, so real, also the downbeat ending as someone mentioned, Steve ❤ ❤

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