Over at the Oranckay's blog there's a fascinating post about the death poem of the Venerable Beopjang, who (if you'll pardon the Christian phrase) gave up the ghost this past Sunday.
Peter does a great job of translating the Chinese, and the exchange between him and Charles of Liminality is also quite enlightening (pun intended). Sperwer's comment, currently at the bottom of the thread, provides a useful guide as to whether the translation approaches the spirit of what Beopjang was saying.
My own death poem is, of course, known to readers of this blog:
[reading in columns, from right to left:]
dae nam geun
mu so yong
a large penis
Your homework is to dig into the archives and find out the history of this proverb, which isn't originally Chinese.
It took a bit of brain work to reduce the original proverb to a nine-character saying, but I've been bothered ever since a commenter wrote in to say that many Chinese proverbs are four-character sayings (think: "jae beop gong sang" from the Heart Sutra, or the folk proverb "sae ong ji ma," or "mu han bul seong," or any number of others).
Can anyone figure out how to get nine characters down to four?