Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Li Bai (699-762)

Autumn Air
The autumn air is clear,
The autumn moon is bright.
Fallen leaves gather and scatter,
The jackdaw perches and starts anew.
We think of each other- when will we meet?
This hour, this night, my feelings are hard.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wei Yingwu (737-792)


From office confinement all year long,
I have come out of town to be free this morning
Where willows harmonize the wind
And green hills lighten the cares of the world.
I lean by a tree and rest myself
Or wander up and down a stream.
...Mists have wet the fragrant meadows;
A spring dove calls from some hidden place.
...With quiet surroundings, the mind is at peace,
But beset with affairs, it grows restless again....
Here I shall finally build me a cabin,
As Tao Qian built one long ago.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)


Slowly, one step at a time, I walk back and forth
As the smoke and low clouds on all four sides dissipate
Revealing my audience to me.

The pines so tall, the cranes sit and nest in them.
The old, half-hidden caves.

The hushed rustlings of the mountain reward my heart.
Sounds come to my ears like gentle, pulsing waves of applause.

That Worthy One who used to be here...
Where has he gone?
Since his seat is empty,
I sit on his discourse ledge and pretend awhile longer.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Su Shi (1037-1101)

Dreaming of My Deceased Wife on the Night of the 20th Day of the First Month
Ten boundless years now separate the living and the dead,
I have not often thought of her, but neither can I forget.
Her lonely grave is a thousand li distant, I can't say where my wife lies cold.
We could not recognise each other even if we met again,
My face is all but covered with dust, my temples glazed with frost.
In deepest night, a sudden dream returns me to my homeland,
She sits before a little window, and sorts her dress and make-up.
We look at each other without a word, a thousand tears now flow.
I must accept that every year I'll think of that heart breaking place,
Where the moon shines brightly in the night, and bare pines guard the tomb.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fān Yānqiáo

Shanghai Nights
by Fan Yanqiao, sung by Zhou Xuan

Shanghai nights, Shanghai nights,
You're a nightless city;
Bright lights, music, delirious dancing,
Not wine drunk, drunk by crowd frenzy,
Reckless nights, reckless days,
Afraid to miss the taste of spring!

To see your welcoming happy face,
Who thinks your inner heart is sad?
A night's work for a place to live,
Hazy dawn tired eyes filled with sorrow,
Empty now, Nightlife spark extinguished.

Carriage wheels grind, turn,
Changing, changing heaven and earth,
Somewhere there must be another life,
Waking from a dream, aftertaste of nightlife!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chang Jian (708-765)


Here, beside a clear deep lake,
You live accompanied by clouds;
Or soft through the pine the moon arrives
To be your own pure-hearted friend.
You rest under thatch in the shadow of your flowers,
Your dewy herbs flourish in their bed of moss.
Let me leave the world. Let me alight, like you,
On your western mountain with phoenixes and cranes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Li Yu (937-978)

Beneath the Moon, Before the Steps (Gratitude for New Bounties)
Beneath the moon, before the steps, all cherry blossom has fallen,
Enwreathed in smoke, she looks sorrowful lying in bed.
She feels the same regret today as one long year ago.
Both braids like cloud in disarray, her face is wan and sallow,
The crimson corset wet from wiping tears.
But what's the reason why she suffers so?
She lies in a drunken dream before the window.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831 / Japan)

Blending With The Wind

Blending with the wind,
Snow falls;
Blending with the snow,
The wind blows.
By the hearth
I stretch out my legs,
Idling my time away
Confined in this hut.
Counting the days,
I find that February, too,
Has come and gone
Like a dream.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)


A summer day can seem as long as a year.
Mountain people know this.
I had forgottten it.

Because I'm simple and not very foresighted
I had destroyed my life's half-way house.
This mountain pavilion was not a rest house for strangers.

Yet, a bamboo screen is as good for privacy as a ceramic screen.
I was just getting comfortable and had pulled out my pen
When I suddenly realized I was looking up at stars.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wei Yingwu (737-792)


Outside are insignia, shown in state;
But here are sweet incense-clouds, quietly ours.
Wind and rain, coming in from sea,
Have cooled this pavilion above the lake
And driven the feverish heat away
From where my eminent guests are gathered.
...Ashamed though I am of my high position
While people lead unhappy lives,
Let us reasonably banish care
And just be friends, enjoying nature.
Though we have to go without fish and meat,
There are fruits and vegetables aplenty.
...We bow, we take our cups of wine,
We give our attention to beautiful poems.
When the mind is exalted, the body is lightened
And feels as if it could float in the wind.
...Suzhou is famed as a centre of letters;
And all you writers, coming here,
Prove that the name of a great land
Is made by better things than wealth.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yuan Jie

I still remember those days of peace --
Twenty years among mountains and forests,
The pure stream running past my yard,
The caves and valleys at my door.
Taxes were light and regular then,
And I could sleep soundly and late in the morning-
Till suddenly came a sorry change.
...For years now I have been serving in the army.
When I began here as an official,
The mountain bandits were rising again;
But the town was so small it was spared by the thieves,
And the people so poor and so pitiable
That all other districts were looted
And this one this time let alone.
...Do you imperial commissioners
Mean to be less kind than bandits?
The people you force to pay the poll
Are like creatures frying over a fire.
And how can you sacrifice human lives,
Just to be known as able collectors? --
...Oh, let me fling down my official seal,
Let me be a lone fisherman in a small boat
And support my family on fish and wheat
And content my old age with rivers and lakes!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Li Yu (937-978)

Beneath the Moon, Before the Steps (Gratitude for New Bounties)
Beneath the moon, before the steps, all cherry blossom has fallen,
Enwreathed in smoke, she looks sorrowful lying in bed.
She feels the same regret today as one long year ago.
Both braids like cloud in disarray, her face is wan and sallow,
The crimson corset wet from wiping tears.
But what's the reason why she suffers so?
She lies in a drunken dream before the window.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saigyo (1118-1190)

limitations gone
since my mind fixed on the moon
clarity and serenity
make something for which
there's no end in sight

Monday, July 18, 2011

Du Mu (803-852)

Entering Shangshan
I enter Shangshan early, under a hundred miles of cloud,
Beneath the bridge a blue stream, the sound of the water divided.
The flowing water's old sound reaches the ears of the old,
This time I cannot bear to listen to its call.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cai Qinrui (1672-1745)

Autumn Butterflies
Cai Qinrui

Expelled from Spring luster
they seek the forest,
Chrysanthemum blossoms
a hermit's abode
is my goal.
Perched of a branch
can this be
their village home?
Wind rises in the oaks
cold dew deep.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)


Cold smoke lingers like fog around a single lit house.
Like a lonely star the house rises up out of the cloud.

The ground is red like the inside of a fish's cheeks.
The mountains dark blue like a spiral conch's flared headdress.

Around half the pond grow poet Tao Qian's willows
And every ten miles stands one of Lord Xie Lingyun's pavilions.

To say Hello and Goodbye to such congenial and famous guests
Takes my breath away! Gives me a heady feeling
That's pretty hard to match.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ryokan Taigu (1758-1831)

First days of spring -- the sky
is bright blue, the sun huge and warm.
Everything's turning green.
Carrying my monk's bowl, I walk to the village
to beg for my daily meal.
The children spot me at the temple gate
and happily crowd around,
dragging to my arms till I stop.
I put my bowl on a white rock,
hang my bag on a branch.
First we braid grasses and play tug-of-war,
then we take turns singing and keeping a kick-ball in the air:
I kick the ball and they sing, they kick and I sing.
Time is forgotten, the hours fly.
People passing by point at me and laugh:
"Why are you acting like such a fool?"
I nod my head and don't answer.
I could say something, but why?
Do you want to know what's in my heart?
From the beginning of time: just this! just this!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lu You (1125-1210)

Caught In Drizzle At Sword Gate Pass
Lu You

Traveling clothes, dust caked, wine stained,
Journeying far, overwhelmed by grief.
In this life what am I?
only a poet
straddling a donkey
Entering Sword Gate in a drizzling rain.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Du Fu (712-770)

In Abbot Zan's Room at Dayun Temple
My heart is in a world of water and crystal,
My clothes are damp in this time of spring rains.
Through the gates I slowly walk to the end,
The great court the appointed tranquil space.
I reach the doors- they open and shut again,
Now strikes the bell- the meal time has arrived.
This cream will help one's nature strengthen and grow,
The diet gives support in my decline.
We've grasped each other's arms so many days,
And opened our hearts without shame or evasion.
Golden orioles flit across the beams,
Purple doves descend from lattice screens.
Myself, I think I've found a place that suits,
I walk by flowers at my own slow pace.
Tangxiu lifts me from my sickly state,
And smiling, asks me to write a poem.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)


The water and my mind have both settled down
Into perfect stillness.
Sun and moon shine bright in it.

At night I see in the surface
The enormous face of my old familiar moon.
I don't think you've ever met the source of this reflection.

All shrillness fades into the sound of silence.
But now and then a puff of mist floats across the mirror.

It confuses me a little
But not enough to make me forget to forget my cares.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Qiu Wei (694-789)


To your hermitage here on the top of the mountain
I have climbed, without stopping, these ten miles.
I have knocked at your door, and no one answered;
I have peeped into your room, at your seat beside the table.
Perhaps you are out riding in your canopied chair,
Or fishing, more likely, in some autumn pool.
Sorry though I am to be missing you,
You have become my meditation --
The beauty of your grasses, fresh with rain,
And close beside your window the music of your pines.
I take into my being all that I see and hear,
Soothing my senses, quieting my heart;
And though there be neither host nor guest,
Have I not reasoned a visit complete?
...After enough, I have gone down the mountain.
Why should I wait for you any longer?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Han Yu (768-824)

Light Rain Early in Spring
In light rain, Heaven Street is moist like butter,
The grass is green from afar, but not nearby.
The spring is best this time every year,
The mist of willow blossom fills the capital.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wang Changling


Lying on a high seat in the south study,
We have lifted the curtain-and we see the rising moon
Brighten with pure light the water and the grove
And flow like a wave on our window and our door.
It will move through the cycle, full moon and then crescent again,
Calmly, beyond our wisdom, altering new to old.
...Our chosen one, our friend, is now by a limpid river --
Singing, perhaps, a plaintive eastern song.
He is far, far away from us, three hundred miles away.
And yet a breath of orchids comes along the wind.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Li Bai (699-762)

Climbing Omei Mountain
Li Bai 699-762

The land of Shu
has many mountains of Immortals,
Omei is far beyond compare.
Circling around
I try to climb to a viewpoint.
Wondrous indeed!
How can one comprehend it?

The blue mists support me
the sky opens out;
Colors conmingle
is it a painted picture?
In the's rays
the violet cloud palace enchants me;
And thus I gain
the fortune teller's "embroidered bag".

From the midst of the cloud
the tones of a white jade flute;
Upon a rock
the thrumming of a rare zither.
Through all my life
I have had these small delights;
I gaily laugh
from now on...nothing more.

The misty ravines
as if in my very eyes!
Ties to this dusty world
are suddenly gone.
If I should meet
the Immortal riding the goat,
Hand in hand
we would soar high above the white sun.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Du Fu (712-770)

Qiang Village
Red clouds tower in the west,
The sun is sinking on the plain.
A sparrow chirps on the wicker gate,
I return from a thousand li away.
My wife and children are shocked to see me,
Then calm themselves and wipe their tears.
I floated through this disordered life,
By chance I have managed to return alive.
The neighbours all lean over the wall,
And they as well are sighing and sobbing.
Late at night we bring out candles,
And face each other as in a dream.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Naropa (1016-1100)

The View, Concisely Put
This mind that knows emptiness
Is itself the awakened mind, bodhicitta.
The Buddha potential is just this.
The sugata essence is just this.

Because of tasting what is,
It is also the great bliss.
The understanding of secret mantra is just this.
Means and knowledge is just this.

This self-knowing, while one is still defiled,
Does not depend on other things,
So self-existing wakefulness is just this.
Being aware, it is cognizance.

A natural knowing that is free of thought.
This self-knowing cannot possibly form thoughts.
Without conceptualizing 'a mind,'
Since it is not something to be conceived,
This original wakefulness, cognizant yet thought-free,
Is like the wisdom of the Tathagata.

Therefore, it is taught, "Realize that luminous mind
Is the mind of original wakefulness,
And don't seek an enlightenment separate from that."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wang Wei


In the slant of the sun on the country-side,
Cattle and sheep trail home along the lane;
And a rugged old man in a thatch door
Leans on a staff and thinks of his son, the herdboy.
There are whirring pheasants? full wheat-ears,
Silk-worms asleep, pared mulberry-leaves.
And the farmers, returning with hoes on their shoulders,
Hail one another familiarly.
...No wonder I long for the simple life
And am sighing the old song, Oh, to go Back Again!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cen Shen (715-770)

Iron Gate Pass
Cen Shen (Tang)

Iron Gate Pass at world's edge,
Few travelers to be seen.
One lowly official closes the gate,
All day just see stone walls.
Mountain bridge, a thousand dangerous steps,
Narrow road winds between sharp cliffs.
I climbing west tower to look,
One glance and my head turns white!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bai Juyi

Reading Laozi
Those who speak do not know, those who know are silent,
I heard this saying from the old gentleman.
If the old gentleman was one who knew the way,
Why did he feel able to write five thousand words?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Du Fu (712-770)

Facing Snow
After the battle, many new ghosts cry,
The solitary old man worries and grieves.
Ragged clouds are low amid the dusk,
Snow dances quickly in the whirling wind.
The ladle's cast aside, the cup not green,
The stove still looks as if a fiery red.
To many places, communications are broken,
I sit, but cannot read my books for grief.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Chen Sanli (1853-1937)

Crossing Poyang Lake On Way To Wucheng
Chen Sanli

My eyes riveted to Lake Viewing Pavilion,
Willows warmed by the setting sun.
Those who excel at statecraft,
Are only praised by cawing crows.