Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Friday, August 31, 2012

Li Po (Li Bai-701-762)

Since yesterday had throw me and bolt,
Today has hurt my heart even more.
The autumn wildgeese have a long wing for escort
As I face them from this villa, drinking my wine.
The bones of great writers are your brushes, in the school of heaven,
And I am Lesser Hsieh growing up by your side.
We both are exalted to distant thought,
Aspiring to the sky and the bright moon.
But since water still flows, though we cut it with our swords,
And sorrow return,though we drown them with wine,
Since the world can in no way answer our craving,
I will loosen my hair tomorrow and take to a fishing-boat.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tao Ch'ien (365-433)

I couldn’t want another life. This is my
true calling, working fields and mulberries

with my own two hands. I’ve never failed it,
and still, against hunger and cold, there’s

only hull and chaff I’m not asking for more
than a full stomach. All I want is enough

common rice, heavy clothes for winter and
open-weaves for the summer heat-nothing

more. But I haven’t even managed that. O,
it can leave you stricken so with grief

And character is fate. If you’re simple-
minded in life, its ways elude you. That’s

how it is. Nothing can change it. But then,

I’ll delight in even a single cup of wine.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Liu Yong (1719-1804)

The Rain-soaked Bell

A cold cicada, sad and desolate,
Faces the long pavilion at twilight,
The showers having recently ceased.
Outside the city gate, drinking in the tent continues
without end.
I am about to linger awhile,
When the magnolia boat urges me to start my journey.
Holding hands, we look into each other's tearful eyes -
Without words, throats choked -
As I think of my voyage through a thousand miles
of mists and waves.
Where the evening clouds are somber and the distant skies vast.
Lovers have suffered since ancient times the
sorrows of parting.
How can I bear further my solitude in
this clear autumn season?
Where shall I be when I wake up from my drink tonight? -
Willow banks, the breeze at dawn, and the waning moon.
During this long year of separation,
All fine moments and lovely scenes will appear to me in vain.
Even if there are a thousand varieties of tender emotion,
To whom could I impart them now?

Zhang Ji (150-219)

While I watch the moon go down, a crow caws through the frost;
Under the shadows of maple-trees a fisherman moves with his torch;
And I hear, from beyond Suzhou, from the temple on Cold Mountain,
Ringing for me, here in my boat, the midnight bell.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zenrin Kushu (Toyo Eicho 1429-1504)

One mote flying up dims the sky;
One speck of dust covers the earth.

Is there anything to compare with wearing of clothes and eating of food?
Beyond this there is no Buddha or Bodhisattva.

To know the original Mind, the essential Mature,
This is the great disease of (our) religion.

The Tathagata's True-Law Eye-Treasury, --
It is just like two mirrors reflecting each other.

It cannot be attained by mind;
It is not to be sought after through mindlessness.

It cannot be created by speech;
It cannot be penetrated by silence.

The geese do not wish to leave their reflection behind;
The water has no mind to retain their image.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Yuan Mei (1716-1798)

Gone Again to Gaze on the Cascade

A whole life without speaking,
"a thunderous silence"
that was Wei-ma's Way.
And here is a place where no monk can preach.
I understand now what T'ao Ch'ien, enlightened,
said, he couldn't say.
It's so clear, here, this water
my teacher.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

nature's a killer I won't sing to it
I hold my breath and listen to the dead singing under the grass

suddenly nothing but grief
so I put on my father's old ripped raincoat

when I was forty-seven everybody came to see me
so I walked out forever

my monk friend has a weird endearing habit
he weaves sandals and leaves them secretly by the roadside

even before trees rocks I was nothing
when I'm dead nowhere I'll be nothing

no nothing only those wintry crows
bright black in the sun

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fujiwara no Shitaka (954-974)

For your precious sake,
Once my eager life itself
Was not dear to me.
But now it is my heart's desire
It may long, long years endure.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wang Wei (699-759)


Its massive height near the City of Heaven
Joins a thousand mountains to the corner of the sea.
Clouds, when I look back, close behind me,
Mists, when I enter them, are gone.
A central peak divides the wilds
And weather into many valleys.
...Needing a place to spend the night,
I call to a wood-cutter over the river.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bodhidharma (?-536)

Flower Seed Sequence (1)

Originally I brought the soil,
Buddha's infinite compassion.
From this one blossom drop five seeds,
The result, spontaneous combustion.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Li Ching Chao (1084-1151)

To the Tune of Like a Dream

I always remember the sunset
over the pavalion by the river.

So tipsy, we could not find our way home.

Our interest exhausted, the evening late,
we tried to turn the boat homeward.

By mistake, we entered deep within the lotus bed.

Row! Row the boat!

A flock of herons, frightened,
suddenly flew skyward.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)

Children imitating cormorants
are even more wonderful
than cormorants.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lio Ching Chao (1084-1151)

A Song of Departure by Li Ching Chao
Warm rain and soft breeze by turns
Have just broken
And driven away the chill.
Moist as the pussy willows,
Light as the plum blossoms,
Already I feel the heart of Spring vibrating.
But now who will share with me
The joys of wine and poetry?
Tears streak my rouge.
My hairpins are too heavy.
I put on my new quilted robe
Sewn with gold thread
And throw myself against a pile of pillows,
Crushing my phoenix hairpins.
Alone, all I can embrace is my endless sorrow.
I know a good dream will never come.
So I stay up till past midnight
Trimming the lamp flower’s smoking wick.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Onakatomi no Yoshinobu (921-991)

Like the guard's fires
Kept at the imperial gateway--
Burning through the night,
Dull in ashes through the day--
Is the love aglow in me.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Han Shan Te'Ching (1600)

Look upon the body as unreal,
an image in a mirror,
the reflection of the moon in water.
Contemplate the mind as formless,
yet bright and pure.

Not a single thought arising,
empty, yet perceptive;
still, yet illuminating;
complete like the great emptiness,
containing all that is wonderful.

- Han Shan Te'-Ch'ing, 1600

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wang Wei (699-759)

A Green Stream. by Wang Wei
I have sailed the River of Yellow Flowers,
Borne by the channel of a green stream,
Rounding ten thousand turns through the mountains
On a journey of less than thirty miles....
Rapids hum over heaped rocks;
But where light grows dim in the thick pines,
The surface of an inlet sways with nut-horns
And weeds are lush along the banks.
...Down in my heart I have always been as pure
As this limpid water is....
Oh, to remain on a broad flat rock
And to cast a fishing-line forever!

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?

Wednesday, August 15, 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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

Temple bell,
a cloud of cherry flowers --
Ueno? Asakusa?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Xue Tao (768-831)

the eagle away from the oversleeve

by Xue Tao

claws sharp as blades
eyes acute as tinkling bells

hunted rabbits over the plain received high praise

for no reason
soared into serene clouds

I must not again be held on the emperor’s shoulder

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Minamoto no Shigeyuki (c. 1000)

Like a driven wave,
Dashed by fierce winds on a rock,
So am I: alone
And crushed upon the shore,
Remembering what has been.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Feng Gan (fl.9th cent)

Poem After Hui Neng the Sixth Patriarch

Actually there isn't a thing
much less any dust to wipe away
who can master this
doesn't need to sit there stiff

Thursday, August 9, 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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tao Chien (365-427)


The ways of heaven are mysterious,
the spirits pose a problem.

Since childhood, I struggled to do right—
forty-four years of struggle.

Things went bad when I was twenty.
At thirty, I lost my wife.

Fires burned my houses down
and weevils ate my grain.

Winds and rain ruined everything:
I couldn’t fill a mouth.

In summer, we went hungry;
in winter we all slept cold.

Evenings, we longed for the cock crow;
at dawn, we chased away the crows.

It’s my own poor karma, not heaven,
that leaves me troubled and bitter.

A name unearned, left for all the ages,
means no more to me than mist.

Tao Chien

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Du Fu (712-770)


Flowers are shadowed, the palace darkens,
Birds twitter by for a place to perch;
Heaven's ten thousand windows are twinkling,
And nine cloud-terraces are gleaming in the moonlight.
...While I wait for the golden lock to turn,
I hear jade pendants tinkling in the wind....
I have a petition to present in the morning,
All night I ask what time it is.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lu Tung Ping (755-805)

My heart is the clear water in the stony pond.
Right now it is invaded by the peach-blossom shadows.
As soon as I arrive at heaven's palaces
I shall settle down with my seven-stringed lute.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Po Chu-i (772-846)


Our party scattered at yellow dusk and I came home to bed;

I woke at midnight and went for a walk, leaning heavily on a friend.

As I lay on my pillow my vinous complexion, soothed by sleep, grew sober;

In front of the tower the ocean moon, accompanying the tide, had risen.

The swallows, about to return to the beams, went back to roost again ;

The candle at my window, just going out, suddenly revived its light.

All the time till dawn came, still my thoughts were muddled ;

And in my ears something sounded like the music of flutes and strings.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Li-Ching Chao (1084-1181)

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.

Friday, August 3, 2012

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.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Saigyo (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, August 1, 2012

Cen Can (715-770)


Together we officials climbed vermilion steps,
To be parted by the purple walls....
Our procession, which entered the palace at dawn,
Leaves fragrant now at dusk with imperial incense.
...Grey heads may grieve for a fallen flower,
Or blue clouds envy a lilting bird;
But this reign is of heaven, nothing goes wrong,
There have been almost no petitions.