American Go E-Journal

Your Move/Readers Write: Honinbo Sansa’s deathbed poem

Wednesday September 16, 2015

“Here is an example of another kind of verse, a famous kyoka (mad poem) attributed to Sansa, the first Honinbo and founder of that line,” 2015.09.16_Honinbo_Sansawrites Keith Arnold in response to Paul Celmer’s recent query (Searching for a literary go reference 9/9 EJ). “He is said to have composed it on his deathbed, which would date it at 1623. As a demonstration, perhaps, of mu-shin, and not without a touch of grim humor, he makes his own imminent death the subject.”

Go narabaya
ko ni mo tatete
iku beki wo
shinuru michi ni wa
te hitotsu mo nashi

If this were go
I’d start a ko fight
and surely live,
but on the road to death
there’s no move left at all.

This is from an article, Some Senryu about Go by William Pinckard who often contributed to Go World.  I found it on the Kiseido site, but I suspect it was originally published in Go World 15 and in the second edition of the Go Almanac.”
(Thanks also to Peter Schumer, who also sent in this poem)