Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ki no Tomonori (850-904)

In the peaceful light
Of the ever-shining sun
In the days of spring,
Why do the cherry's new-blown blooms
Scatter like restless thoughts?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Zenrinkushu - Eicho (1429-1504)

To be able to trample upon the Great Void,
The iron cow must sweet.

It is like a tiger, but with many horns;
Like a cow, but it has no tail.

Meeting, the two friends laugh and laugh;
In the grove, fallen leaves are many.

The voice of the fountain after midnight;
The colours of the hills at sunsetting.

The cries of the monkeys echo through the dense forest;
In the clear water, the wild geese are mirrored deep.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

T'ao Ch'ien (365-427)

Drinking Alone In Continuous Rain

Destiny and life both have an ending;
From of old it has been so.
In this world there was a stately pine,
And where is it now?
An old friend gave me wine;
He said it would make me feel spritely.
I tried to drink it, and all my emotions soared.
I drank again to my heart's content,
Forgetting suddenly that there is a heaven.
Is heaven not also here?
Relying on my inner self, I stand before the universe.
Only the cloud crane has strange wings,
Returning in a wink of time.
I, alone, embracing this self,
Have muddled through for more than forty years.
The body has undergone much change,
But the heart lives on. What more can I say?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Li He / Li Ho (790-816)


The River of Heaven turns in the night and floats the stars around,
A stream of cloud between silver shores mimics the sound of water.
The cassia tree of the Jade Palace has never shed its flowers,
A houri plucks their fragrance to hang at her jewelled sash.

The Ch'in princess rolls back the blind, day breaks at the North window:
Before the window the straight wu-t'ung dwarfs the blue phoenix.
The prince blows the long goose-quills of the pan-pipes,
Calling to the dragon to plough the mist and plant the jasper herb.
With ribbons of pale dawn-cloud pink and lotus-root fibre skirts
Fairies walk on Azure Isle gathering orchids in the spring.
They point at Hsi-Ho in the Eastern sky, who deftly speeds his horses,
While out of the sea the new land silts beneath the stony mountains.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Po Chu-i (772-846)

An early cricket chirps,
then pauses;
the dying lamp gutters
then flares again.
Outside my window
I know it is raining--
the leaves of the banana
first know its drumming.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Li Po (701-762)

You ask why I make my home in the mountain forest,
and I smile, and am silent,
and even my soul remains quiet:
it lives in the other world
which no one owns.
The peach trees blossom,
The water flows.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

To write something and leave it behind us,
It is but a dream.
When we awake we know
There is not even anyone to read it.

Look at the cherry blossoms!
Their color and scent fall with them,
Are gone forever,
Yet mindless
The spring comes again.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Harumichi no Tsuraki (d.920)

In a mountain stream
There is a wattled barrier
Built by the busy wind.
Yet it's only maple leaves,
Powerless to flow away.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chu Guangxi (707- 760)

The Roads of Luoyang
Chu Guangxi 707-760

The roads are straight as strands of hair
and full of the glories of spring
the noble young lords from the Wuling Hills
ride by in pairs with their bridles ringing

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)


For thirty years I've traveled. At last I return to this village.
One bamboo walking stick and I'm back to old Spring days spent here.

As cold smoke encases fine mist
Sparse stands of bamboo surround this ethereal mystic.

Suddenly things are strange and dreamlike.
We discuss deep perceptions, chatting like close relatives,
Talking and talking throughout the moonlit night,
Confessing those past concerns that brought us to our meeting here tonight.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ts'ai-ken T'an

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, March 19, 2012

T'ao Ch'ien (365-427)

Substance to Shadow
Earth and heaven endure forever,
Streams and mountains never change.
Plants observe a constant rhythm,
Withered by frost, by dew restored.
But man, most sentient being of all,
In this is not their equal.
He is present here in the world today,
Then leaves abruptly, to return no more.
No one marks that there is one man less —
Not even friends and family think of him;
The things that he once used are all that’s left
To catch their eye and move them to grief.
I have no way to transcend change,
That it must be, I no longer doubt.
I hope you will take my advice:
When wine is offered, don’t refuse.

Shadow to Substance
No use discussing immortality
When just to keep alive is hard enough.
Of course I want to roam in paradise,
But it’s a long way there and the road is lost.
In all the time since I met up with you
We never differed in our grief and joy.
In shade we may have parted for a time,
But sunshine always brings us close again.

Still this union cannot last forever —
Together we will vanish into darkness.
The body goes; that fame should also end
Is a thought that makes me burn inside.
Do good, and your love will outlive you;
Surely this is worth your every effort.
While it is time, wine may dissolve care
That is not so good a way as this.

Spirit’s Solution
The Great Potter cannot intervene —
All creation thrives of itself.
That Man ranks with Earth and Heaven,
Is it not because of me?
Though we belong to different orders,
Being alive, I am joined to you.
Bound together for good or ill
I cannot refuse to tell you what I know:
The Three August Ones were great saints
But where are they living today?
Though P’eng-tsu lasted a long time.
He still had to go before he was ready.
Die old or die young, death is the same,
Wise or stupid, there is no difference.
Drunk every day you may forget,
But won’t it shorten your life span?
Doing good is always a joyous thing
But no one has to praise you for it.
Too much thinking harms my life;
Just surrender to the cycle of things,
Give yourself to the waves of the Great Change
Neither happy nor yet afraid.
And when it is time to go, then simply go
Without any unnecessary fuss.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saicho (767-822)

A Thatched Hermitage My Home
Saicho 767-822

A thatched hermitage my home,
Bamboo leaves my throne.
My life is all practise,
Sacrificed to the precepts,
Guarding the country.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

One should gaze long at King Chu's hill, then ascend it.
Midnight on the jade bed amid regretful dreams.
A flower opening beneth the thrust of the plum branch,
Rocking gently, gently her water-nymph thighs.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sakanoue no Korenori (?)

At the break of day,
Just as though the morning moon
Lightened the dim scene,
Yoshino's village lay
In a haze of falling snow.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Li Qingzhao (1084-1151)

The migrant songbird on the bough wet with dew
brings tears to my eyes with her melodious trills—
this fresh downpour rewetting the stains of older spills;
another spring gone, and still no word from you ...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kuan Han - Ch'ing (1249-1320)

Idle Wandering
go where my mind will
sit when my heart's still
drink when I'm thirsty
and sing when I'm drunk
when hard times come
I find a pile of grass and sleep
the days and months are long
the world is vast
and idleness is happiness

toss off the vintage wine
use up the raw
laugh beside the earthen pot
ha, ha, ha,
hum harmonies together with this rude old mountain bonz
he has a pair of chickens
I've brought along a duck
and idleness is happiness

I've reined mind's horses
locked up my monkey heart
leapt up from red dust and evil-mannered wind
who woke me from my shady dreams of Empire?
I've left the field of honor
and wormed into a nest of joys
where idleness is happiness

he's ploughed the southern field
and slept among the eastern hills
I've been the way the world goes, often
vainly measured bygones in my mind
he's the saint
and I'm the fool
who'd argue that?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)


It seems we just met when we so hurriedly parted!
Throughout the whole morning, I had no words to say.
But from your pointed "direct mind" teaching
I pulled out that precious stalactite.
And then I saw that Empty Space you had cracked open!

I won't embellish. Doesn't need sauce. Doesn't need more flavor.
It doesn't need any effort of eyes, ears, nose or tongue.
It was that tip! That point of your brush!
And there was the disk of the moon and the world, bright and clean!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Li Bai (701-762)


The way is broad like the blue sky,
But no way out before my eye.
I am ashamed to follow those who have no guts,
Gambling on fighting cocks and dogs for pears and nuts.
Feng would go homeward way, having no fish to eat;
Zhou did not think to bow to noblemen was meet.
General Han was mocked in the market-place;
The brilliant scholar Jia was banished in disgrace.
Have you not heard of King of Yan in days gone by,
Who venerated talents and built Terrace high
On which he offered gold to gifted men
And stooped low and swept the floor to welcome them?
Grateful, Ju Xin and Yue Yi came then
And served him heart and soul, both full of stratagem.
The King's bones were now buried,
who would sweep the floor of the Gold Terrace any more?
Hard is the way.
Go back without delay!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ikkyu Sojun (1374-1481)

I'm infatuated with the beautiful Shin from the celestial garden:
Lying on the pillow with her flower stamen,
My mouth fills with the pure perfume of the waters of her stream.
Twilight comes, then moonlight's shadows, as we sing our new songs.

«A Woman's Body has the fragrance of a Narcissus»
One should gaze long at King Chu's hill, then ascend it.
Midnight on the jade bed amid regretful dreams.
A flower opening beneth the thrust of the plum branch,
Rocking gently, gently her water-nymph thighs.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mibu no Tadamine (c. 900)

Like the morning moon,
Cold, unpitying was my love.
And since we parted,
I dislike nothing so much
As the breaking light of day.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Saigyo (1118-1190)

As banked clouds
are swept apart by the wind,
at dawn the sudden cry
of the first wild geese
winging across the mountains.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Po Chu-i (772-846)


(A Satire against Clericalism)

The Two Red Towers
North and south rise facing each other.
I beg to ask, to whom do they belong?
To the two Princes of the period Cheng Y√ľan.*
The two Princes blew on their flutes and drew down fairies from the sky,
Who carried them off through the Five Clouds, soaring away to Heaven.
Their halls and houses, that they could not take with them.
Were turned into Temples planted in the Dust of the World.
In the tiring-rooms and dancers' towers all is silent and still ;
Only the willows like dancers' arms, and the pond like a mirror.
When the flowers are falling at yellow twilight, when things are sad and hushed.
One does not hear songs and flutes, but only chimes and bells.
The Imperial Patent on the Temple doors is written in letters of gold ;
For nuns' quarters and monks' cells ample space is allowed.
For green moss and bright moonlight — plenty of room provided;
In a hovel opposite is a sick man who has hardly room to lie down.
I remember once when at P'ing-yang they were building a great man's house
How it swallowed up the housing space of thousands of ordinary men.
The Immortals^ are leaving us, two by two, and their houses are turned into Temples;
I begin to fear that the whole world will become a vast convent.

* 785-805.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ts'ai-ken T'an - Vegetable Root Discourses

Watch things move when you are still.
Watch people busy toiling while you are relaxed.
Then you can realize the fun of being out of this world.
Knowing how to be at ease when busy.
Knowing how to quiet down amidst noise.
That is the discipline to keep you healthy and long-lived.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Zenrinkushu - Eicho (1429-1504)

The voice of the mountain torrent is from one great tongue;
The lines of the hills, are they not the Pure Body of Buddha?

It is like a sword that wounds, but cannot wound itself;
Like an eye that sees, but cannot see itself.

Words do not make a man understand;
You must get the man, to understand them.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ikkyu Sojun (1374-1481)

If chunks of rock
Can serve as a memento
To the dead,
A better headstone
Would be a simple tea-mortar.

Humans are indeed frightful beings.
A single moon
Bright and clear
In an unclouded sky;
Yet still we stumble
In the world’s darkness.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Oshikochi no Mitsune (859-925)

If it were my wish
To pick the white chrysanthemums,
Puzzled by the frost
Of the early autumn time,
I by chance might pluck the flower.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ts'ai-ken Tan

Hold your principles as firm as the nine Dings of Taishan,
then blame shall not fall upon you.
Treat everything as fallen petals in flowing water.
Let them disappear and you will find fun.