The opening lines of “Tales of the Heike”, written in the mid-thirteenth century. This video shows a modern reproduction of how the entirety of this work would have been recited, by travelling biwa houshi (blind lute minstrels). These lines clearly frame the work as a Buddhist text, though the message seems strangely familiar, to Christian ears:
“The bells of the Gion monastery in India echo with the warning that all things are impermanent. The blossoms of the sala trees teach us through their hues that what flourishes must fade. The proud do not prevail for long, but vanish like a spring night’s dream. The mighty too in time succumb; all are dust before the wind.”
-Tales of the Heike
To compare, here are some of the most beautiful lines from one of my favorite passages:
A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:6-8, ESV)