Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Monday, December 31, 2012

Li Po (Li Bai - 701-762)

Ancient Air

I climb up high and look on the four seas,
Heaven and earth spreading out so far.
Frost blankets all the stuff of autumn,
The wind blows with the great desert's cold.
The eastward-flowing water is immense,
All the ten thousand things billow.
The white sun's passing brightness fades,
Floating clouds seem to have no end.
Swallows and sparrows nest in the wutong tree,
Yuan and luan birds perch among jujube thorns.
Now it's time to head on back again,
I flick my sword and sing Taking the Hard Road.

Li Po

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Han Shan (9th Cent.)

In the mountains it's cold.

Always been cold, not just this year.

Jagged scarps forever snowed in

Woods in the dark ravines spitting mist.

Grass is still sprouting at the end of June,

Leaves begin to fall in early August.

And here I am, high on mountains,

Peering and peering, but I can't even see the sky.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Po Chu-i (772-846)

Written While on Night Duty at the Palace, to Send to Yuan Ninth

Ten thousand threads of thought, two sheets written:
before sealing them, I read them over, wonder if they’ll do.
The palace water clock has just sounded the fifth watch,
the lamp in the window, my one light, about to go out.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fan Zhongyan (989-1052)

To the Tune of Su mu zhe

Blue cloudy sky

Yellow leave ground

Autumnal waves

Under cold blue mist.

Hills cathch the setting sun, sky and water emerge.

Unfeeling, fragrant grasses grow

On and on past the setting sun.

Unhappy homesick soul

Obsessed with travel cares—

Night brings no relief

Except when pleasant dreams prolong the sleep.

Don’t look out alone when the moon shines—

The wine in your melancholy heart

Will turn to tears of longing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831)

Reply to a Friend
by Ryokan

English version by Mei Hui Huang and Larry Smith
Original Language Japanese

In stubborn stupidity, I live on alone
befriended by trees and herbs.
Too lazy to learn right from wrong,
I laugh at myself, ignoring others.
Lifting my bony shanks, I cross the stream,
a sack in my hand, blessed by spring weather.
Living thus, I want for nothing,
at peace with all the world.

Your finger points to the moon,
but the finger is blind until the moon appears.
What connection has moon and finger?
Are they separate objects or bound?
This is a question for beginners
wrapped in seas of ignorance.
Yet one who looks beyond metaphor
knows there is no finger; there is no moon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shih Ching (10-7 cent. BC)

'Fair, fair,' cry the ospreys

On the island in the river.

Lovely is this noble lady,

Fit bride for our lord.

In patches grows the water mallow:

To left and right one must seek it.

Shy was this noble lady;

Day and night he sought her.

Sought her and could not get her;

Day and night he grieved.

Long thoughts, oh, long unhappy thoughts,

Now on his back, now tossing on to his side.

In patches grow the water mallow;

To left and right one must gather it.

Shy is this noble lady;

With great zithern and little we hearten her.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jang Seok-Nam

Hanging Plum-Blossom

After examining the stump of the plum-tree outside the gate buried years ago,
there being as yet no sign,
back in my room after adjusting my icy shadow,
I unrolled and hung up on the eastward wall a painting of pink plum-blossom
by Master Ko-San.
Plum-blossom painting was a favorite pastime of people long ago, so suppose I
wash my face, at least, sit down and greet the old days?
On branches extending hesitantly to the left, five fully blooming flowers,
three buds;
after bending it again, on the branches appearing on that part four buds now spread,
uh uh, five,
so on which of them do I wish I was now?
The love in retrospect
and the void in anticipation are crystal clear.

After full consideration, going out with icy shoulders
I once again squat before the plum-tree stump.
As the sound of evening bells comes close at dusk,
darkness comes, rocks come,
and someone’s eyes come too,
come . . .

Monday, December 24, 2012

Li Po (Li Bai- 701-762)

Ballads Of Four Seasons: Winter

The courier will depart next day, she's told.
She sews a warrior's gown all night.
Her fingers feel the needle cold.
How can she hold the scissors tight?
The work is done, she sends it far away.
When will it reach the town where warriors stay?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Luo Binwang (640-684)

I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Li Yu (1610-1680)

Light mist envelopes the dim moon and bright flowers,
A perfect night to go to her darling's side.
In stocking soles, she treads the fragrant steps,
And carries in one hand her gold threaded shoes.
They meet by the south side of the painted hall,
And trembling fall into each other's arms.
"It's hard for me to creep out like a servant,
To teach my darling the recklessness of love."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dai Shulun (732-789)

Passing the Shrine to the Master of the Three Gates
Dai Shulun

The waters of the Yuan and Xiang never cease
Qu Yuan's grief is so deep
The Autumn wind rises at sunset
And blows through a grove of maples

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Meng Haoran (691-740)


In my bed among the woods, grieving that spring must end,
I lifted up the curtain on a pathway of flowers,
And a flashing bluebird bade me come
To the dwelling-place of the Red Pine Genie.
...What a flame for his golden crucible --
Peach-trees magical with buds ! --
And for holding boyhood in his face,
The rosy-flowing wine of clouds!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

I would sleep,
borrowing the sleeve of the scarecrow.
Midnight frost.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wang Wei (699-761)

Bamboo Cottage
Alone in the dense bamboo, I sit
playing my lute, humming along.

Lost to this world, who will notice
but the bright moon shining?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Du Fu (712-770)


A wanderer hears drums portending battle.
By the first call of autumn from a wildgoose at the border,
He knows that the dews tonight will be frost.
...How much brighter the moonlight is at home!
O my brothers, lost and scattered,
What is life to me without you?
Yet if missives in time of peace go wrong --
What can I hope for during war?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Luo Binwang (640-689)

Ode to the Goose
Goose, goose, goose,
You bend your neck towards the sky and sing.
Your white feathers float on the emerald water,
Your red feet push the clear waves.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Li Ching Chao (1084-c.1150)

A Morning Dream by Li Ching Chao
This morning I dreamed I followed
Widely spaced bells, ringing in the wind,
And climbed through mists to rosy clouds.
I realized my destined affinity
With An Ch'i-sheng the ancient sage.
I met unexpectedly O Lu-hua
The heavenly maiden.

Together we saw lotus roots as big as boats.
Together we ate jujubes as huge as melons.
We were the guests of those on swaying lotus seats.
They spoke in splendid language,
Full of subtle meanings.
The argued with sharp words over paradoxes.
We drank tea brewed on living fire.

Although this might not help the Emperor to govern,
It is endless happiness.
The life of men could be like this.

Why did I have to return to my former home,
Wake up, dress, sit in meditation.
Cover my ears to shut out the disgusting racket.
My heart knows I can never see my dream come true.
At least I can remember
That world and sigh.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

T'ao Ch'ien (365-427)

Reading the Classic of Hills and Seas

In the summer grass and trees have grown.

Over my roof the branches meet.

Birds settle in the leaves.

I enjoy my humble place.

Ploughing’s done, the ground is sown,

Time to sit and read my book.

The narrow deeply-rutted lane

Means my friends forget to call.

Content, I pour the new Spring wine,

Go out and gather food I’ve grown.

A light rain from the East,

Blows in on a pleasant breeze.

I read the story of King Mu,

See pictures of the Hills and Seas.

One glance finds all of heaven and earth.

What pleasures can compare with these?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lady Izumi Shikibu (987-1011)

Soon my life will close.
When I am beyond this world
And have forgotten it,
Let me remember only this:
One final meeting with you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Liu Yu-Hsi (772-842)

HILLS surround the ancient kingdom; they never change.
The tide beats against the empty city, and silently, silently, returns.
To the East, over the Huai River – the ancient moon.
Through the long, quiet night it moves, crossing the battlemented wall.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lao Tzu (450 BC)

Dao is an empty vessel,
used without ever being filled,
unfathomably deep, the source of all things,
where sharpness blunts,
knots untangle,
glare mellows,
dust coalesces. So hidden, in nonbeing it is being.
Who knows whose child it is,
this ancestor of the gods?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Kim Ch'un-su

Flower by Kim Ch’un-su

Before I spoke his name
he was simply
one set of gestures, nothing more.

Then I spoke his name,
he came to me
and became a flower.

Just as I spoke his name,
I hope that someone will speak my name,
one right for my color and perfume.
I long to go to him
and become his flower.

We all of us
long to become something.
You for me, and I for you,
we long to become a never-to-be-forgotten gaze.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Han Shan (c. 750)

Once, my back wedded to the solid cliff,
I sat silently, bathed in the full moon's light.

I counted there ten thousand shapes,
None with substance save the moon's own glow.

The pristine mind is empty as the moon,
I thought, and like the moon, freely shines.

By what I knew of moon I knew the mind,
Each mirror to each, profound as stone.

- Han Shan

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bai Juyi (772-846)

Song of Sunset on the River
A strip of water's spread in the setting sun,
Half the river's emerald, half is red.
I love the third night of the ninth month,
The dew is like pearl; the moon like a bow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Du Fu (712-770)

Du Fu
The cows and sheep are moving slowly down,
Each villager has shut his wicker gate.
The wind and moon disturb the clear night,
This landscape of rivers and hills is not my homeland.
A spring flows from the stones of a darkening cliff,
The autumn dew drips on the grass's roots.
My white head is within the brightness of the lamp,
What need for the flower to flourish so?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Caigentan - (vegetable root discourses)

Reading I-Jing under a morning window,
I grind cinnabar with the dews on pines.
Discussing the classics over a desk at mid-day,
I listen to the chime announcing a breeze under the bamboo.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bao Zhao (414-466)

From Variations on "The Weary Road"

Poem 5.

Don't you see how grass on the riverbank
in winter withers and dies, yet in spring floods the road?
Don't you see how the sun above the walls
evaporates to nothing at dusk
yet tomorrow at dawn is reborn?
But how can we achieve that?
When dead we're dead forever, down in Yellow Springs.
Life has lavish bitterness, is stingy with joy,
and only the young are filled with endless zeal.
So let's just meet whenever we can
and always keep wine-money ready by our beds.
Who cares for rank and fame inscribed on bamboo and silk?
Life, death, acclaim, obscurity–leave them to heaven.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Po Chu-i (772-846)

Rain on Autumn Night

Cold, cold this third night of autumn
Rain makes me sleepy
Alone, this old man is contented and idle
It’s late when I extinguish the lamp and lie down
To sleep, listening to the beautiful sound of rain
Incense ashes still glowing in the burner
My only heat in this lodging
At daybreak, I will stay under the quilt to stay warm
And the steps will be covered by frosty red leaves

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tao Chien (365-427)

Returning to Live in the Country

Young, I was always free of common feeling.

It was in my nature to love the hills and mountains.

Mindlessly I was caught in the dust-filled trap.

Waking up, thirty years had gone.

The caged bird wants the old trees and air.

Fish in their pool miss the ancient stream.

I plough the earth at the edge of South Moor.

Keeping life simple, return to my plot and garden.

My place is hardly more than a few fields.

My house has eight or nine small rooms.

Elm-trees and Willows shade the back.

Plum-trees and Peach-trees reach the door.

Misted, misted the distant village.

Drifting, the soft swirls of smoke.

Somewhere a dog barks deep in the winding lanes.

A cockerel crows from the top of the mulberry tree.

No heat and dust behind my closed doors.

My bare rooms are filled with space and silence.

Too long a prisoner, captive in a cage,

Now I can get back again to Nature.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cao Cao (155-220)

Walking from Xiamen and Looking at the Blue Sea
East of Jieshi mountain, I gaze at the blue sea.
The water dances so gently, the mountain island towers.
Trees here grow thick, a hundred grasses are lush.
The autumn wind soughs, great waves rise up.
The path of the sun and moon, seems to come from within.
The splendid Milky Way, seems to come from inside.
Oh, I am so lucky, to be singing my song!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kim Su Yong (1921-1968)

Grass by Kim Su-yŏng

The grass is lying flat.

Fluttering in the east wind that brings rain in its train,

the grass lay flat

and at last it wept.

As the day grew cloudier, it wept even more

and lay flat again.

The grass is lying flat.

It lies flat more quickly than the wind.

It weeps more quickly than the wind.

It rises more quickly than the wind.

The day is cloudy, the grass is lying flat.

It lies low as the ankles

low as the feet.

Though it lies flat later than the wind,

it rises more quickly than the wind

and though it weeps later than the wind,

it laughs more quickly than the wind.

The day is cloudy, the grass's roots are lying flat.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Du Fu (712-770)

Jade dew withers and wounds the groves of maple trees,
On Wu mountain, in Wu gorge, the air is dull and drear.
On the river surging waves rise to meet the sky,
Above the pass wind and cloud join the earth with darkness.
Chrysanthemum bushes open twice, weeping for their days,
A lonely boat, a single line, my heart is full of home.
Winter clothes everywhere are urgently cut and measured,
Baidicheng above, the evening's driven by beating on stones.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tzu Yeh (4th cent.)

I will carry my coat and not put on my belt;
With unpainted eyebrows I will stand at the front window.
My tiresome petticoat keeps on flapping about;
If it opens a little, I shall blame the spring wind.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ono no Komachi (825-900)

As I dozed

As I dozed
The man I love
Appeared, so
It is dreams that
Have begun to comfort me

Ono no Komachi

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Li Po (Li Bai-701-762)


See how the Yellow River's waters move out of heaven.
Entering the ocean, never to return.
See how lovely locks in bright mirrors in high chambers,
Though silken-black at morning, have changed by night to snow.
...Oh, let a man of spirit venture where he pleases
And never tip his golden cup empty toward the moon!
Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed!
Spin a thousand pieces of silver, all of them come back!
Cook a sheep, kill a cow, whet the appetite,
And make me, of three hundred bowls, one long drink!
...To the old master, Cen,
And the young scholar, Danqiu,
Bring in the wine!
Let your cups never rest!
Let me sing you a song!
Let your ears attend!
What are bell and drum, rare dishes and treasure?
Let me be forever drunk and never come to reason!
Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten,
And only the great drinkers are famous for all time.
...Prince Chen paid at a banquet in the Palace of Perfection
Ten thousand coins for a cask of wine, with many a laugh and quip.
Why say, my host, that your money is gone?
Go and buy wine and we'll drink it together!
My flower-dappled horse,
My furs worth a thousand,
Hand them to the boy to exchange for good wine,
And we'll drown away the woes of ten thousand generations!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Taigu Ryokan(1758-1831)

Down In The Village

Down in the village
the din of
flute and drum,
here deep in the mountain
everywhere the sound of the pines.

Taigu Ryokan

Friday, November 23, 2012

Saigyo Hoshi (1118-1190)

limitations gone

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


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shih Ching (10th-7th cent BC)

Shih Ching #16

This sweet pear, this great shady tree
Don’t you dare prune it, much less cut at it!
The good Lord Shao found
friendly shade beneath once.

This sweet pear, this great shady tree
Don’t you dare clip it, much less do damage to it!
The good Lord Shao spoke true beneath it often.

This sweet pear, this great shady tree
Don’t you dare clip, don’t bend a twig of it…
Here the good Lord Shao gave honest judgement, always.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tao Qian (365-427)

Drinking wine

Tao Qian

365-427 CE
(translated by William P. Coleman)

I’ve made my home among people,
yet I hear no noise of cart horses.

You ask how am I able to do that?
A heart in a far place seeks its own.

I pick chrysanthemums from the east hedge
and gaze, at leisure, on South Mountain.

In this mountain air, day is beautiful — and night too;
birds fly out, then return together.

These facts all have a clear meaning;
I want to argue for my points, but already forget to speak.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Li Po (Li Bai- 701-762)


"The sun has set, and a mist is in the flowers;
And the moon grows very white and people sad and sleepless.
A Zhao harp has just been laid mute on its phoenix holder,
And a Shu lute begins to sound its mandarin-duck strings....
Since nobody can bear to you the burden of my song,
Would that it might follow the spring wind to Yanran Mountain.
I think of you far away, beyond the blue sky,
And my eyes that once were sparkling
Are now a well of tears.
...Oh, if ever you should doubt this aching of my heart,
Here in my bright mirror come back and look at me!"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Han Shan (c. 9th cent.)


I wanted a good place to settle:

Cold Mountain would be safe.

Light wind in a hidden pine -

Listen close - the sound gets better.

Under it a gray haired man

Mumbles along reading Huang and Lao.

For ten years I havn't gone back home

I've even forgotten the way by which I came.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Midang So Chong-Ju (1915-2000)

Beside a chrysanthemum by Midang Sŏ Chŏng-ju

For one chrysanthemum to bloom

a nightingale

has sobbed since spring, perhaps.

For one chrysanthemum to bloom


has pealed in dark clouds, perhaps.

Flower! Like my sister standing

at her mirror, just back

from far away, far away byways of youth,

where she was racked with longing and lack:

last night's frost came down

to bid your yellow petals bloom, perhaps,

while I could not get to sleep.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

T'ao Ch'ien (365-427)

Reading the Classic of Hills and Seas

In the summer grass and trees have grown.
Over my roof the branches meet.

Birds settle in the leaves.

I enjoy my humble place.

Ploughing’s done, the ground is sown,

Time to sit and read my book.

The narrow deeply-rutted lane

Means my friends forget to call.

Content, I pour the new Spring wine,

Go out and gather food I’ve grown.

A light rain from the East,

Blows in on a pleasant breeze.

I read the story of King Mu,

See pictures of the Hills and Seas.

One glance finds all of heaven and earth.

What pleasures can compare with these?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wang Wei (699-759)

Autumn Evening in a Mountain Retreat

After the rain,
the empty mountain
at dusk
is full of autumn air.
A bright moon
shines between the pines;
The clear spring water
glides over the rocks.
Bamboo leaves rustling –
the washer-girls bound home.
Water lilies swaying –
a fisher-boat goes down.
Never mind that
spring plants are no longer green.
I am here to stay
my noble friends!
•by Wang Wei

Monday, November 12, 2012

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

A monk sips morning tea

A monk sips morning tea,
it's quiet,
the chrysanthemum's flowering.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Huang O (1498-1569)

To the tune “Soaring Clouds”
You held my lotus blossom
In your lips and played with the
Pistil. We took one piece of
Magic rhinoceros horn
And could not sleep all night long.
All night the cock’s gorgeous crest
Stood erect. All night the bee
Clung trembling to the flower
Stamens. Oh my sweet perfumed
Jewel! I will allow only
My lord to possess my sacred
Lotus pond, and every night
You can make blossom in me
Flowers of fire.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Li Ching Chao (1084-1151)

As in a Dream

To the melody of "Ru Meng Lin"

Last night in the light rain as rough winds blew,
My drunken sleep left me no merrier.
I question one that raised the curtain, who
Replies: "The wild quince trees -- are as they were."
But no, but no!
Their rose is waning, and their green leaves grow.

Li Ching Chao

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)


Do you remember how when we were young we soared.
Now, we're old and hobble around on foot.

Then, we were so full of ideas and bold
We even put water in the clouds.
Now we poke at the snow with our walking sticks,
And worry about frost and wind.

Well... you're famous now.
Your literary works are widely known.
Your reputation has reached all the way to the Palace.
The king, I understand, is quite impressed.

Now, living in the mountains meets all my wishes.
I can boast about having known you "then"...
So send me a letter to prove it - and don't forget
To include some of your poignant verse.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Li Qi (690-751)


Through the bright day up the mountain, we scan the sky for a war-torch;
At yellow dusk we water our horses in the boundaryriver;
And when the throb of watch-drums hangs in the sandy wind,
We hear the guitar of the Chinese Princess telling her endless woe....
Three thousand miles without a town, nothing but camps,
Till the heavy sky joins the wide desert in snow.
With their plaintive calls, barbarian wildgeese fly from night to night,
And children of the Tartars have many tears to shed;
But we hear that the Jade Pass is still under siege,
And soon we stake our lives upon our light warchariots.
Each year we bury in the desert bones unnumbered,
Yet we only watch for grape-vines coming into China.

Yu Xuanji (844-869)

the late spring

by Yu Xuanji

lovers seldom come to this deep alley
their spirits have to linger on in dreams

whose fragrance of damask is this?
from which tower does this breeze blow the song?

sounds of drums in the street
disturb my morning sleep
magpies chirping in the courtyard
confuse my spring sorrows

how can I care
for things of this world?
ten thousand miles, my life,
like a boat unmoored