Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fujiwara no Senekata (959-999)

How can I tell her
How fierce my love for her is?
Will she understand
That the love I feel for her
Burns like Ibuki's fire plant?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tao Chien (365-427)

Returning to Live in the Country II

I always loved to walk the woods and mountains,

Pleased myself, lost in fields and marshes.

Now I go out with nephews, nieces,

In the wilds, parting hazel branches,

Back and forth through the mounds and hollows,

All around us signs of ancient peoples,

Remnants of their broken hearths and well-heads,

Mulberry and bamboo groves neglected.

Stop and ask the simple woodsman,

‘Where have all these people gone now?’

Turning he looks quietly and tells me,

‘Nothing’s left of them, they’re finished.’

One world. Though the lives we lead are different,

In courts of power or labouring in the market,

These I know are more than empty words:

Our life’s a play of light and shade,

Returning at last to the Void.

Monday, October 29, 2012

T'se Ken Tan - Vegetable Root Discourses

Stretching the bow when the goose is not yet here;
Drawing the arrow when the rabbit is already dead.
Such is called inopportune timing.
Don't make wave when the wind has subsided;
Disembark as soon as the boat is ashore.
This is the proper way to act.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

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.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

A cold rain starting

A cold rain starting
And no hat --

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ryokan (1758-1831)

The Autumn Moon
by Ryokan

English version by John Stevens
Original Language Japanese

The moon appears in every season, it is true,
But surely it's best in fall.
In autumn, mountains loom and water runs clear.
A brilliant disk floats across the infinite sky,
And there is no sense of light and darkness,
For everything is permeated with its presence.
The boundless sky above, the autumn chill on my face.
I take my precious staff and wander about the hills.
Not a speck of the world's dust anywhere,
Just the brilliant beams of moonlight.
I hope others, too, are gazing on this moon tonight,
And that it's illuminating all kinds of people.
Autumn after autumn, the moonlight comes and goes;
Human beings will gaze upon it for eternity.
The sermons of Buddha, the preaching of Eno,
Surely occurred under the same kind of moon.
I contemplate the moon through the night,
As the stream settles, and white dew descends.
Which wayfarer will bask in the moonlight longest?
Whose home will drink up the most moonbeams?

Thursday, October 25, 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, October 24, 2012

Saigyo (1118-1190)

In a mountain village

In a mountain village
at autumn’s end—
that’s where you learn
what sadness means
in the blast of the wintry wind.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Han Shan Te'-Ch'ing (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.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bai Juyi (772-846)

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?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wang Wei (699-759)

Green-Water Stream

To reach the Yellow-Flowered River
Go by the Green-Water Stream.
A thousand twists and turns of mountain
But the way there can’t be many miles.
The sound of water falling over rocks
And deep colour among pines.
Gently green floating water-plants.
Bright the mirrored reeds and rushes.
I am a lover of true quietness.
Watching the flow of clear water
I dream of sitting on the uncarved rock
casting a line on the endless stream.

Note: The uncarved rock is the Tao. The endless stream is the Tao.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Du Fu (712-770)

A Short Poem Written At The Moment When A Rising River Looked Like A Rolling Ocean

I was stubborn by nature and addicted to perfect lines,
fought to the death to find words that startle.
Now in old age my poems flow out freely, the way
flowers and birds forget deep sorrow in spring.

A new water pavilion has been built for fishing with a rod.
I choose to use a bamboo raft instead of a boat.
If only my thoughts were guided by poets Tao and Xie,1
we'd travel and together write poems.

Du Fu

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Zhang Ji

Anchored Overnight at Maple Bridge
Zhang Ji fl.760

Crows caw the moon set frost fills the sky
River maples fishing fires care-plagued sleep
Coming from Cold Mountain Temple outside the Suzhou wall
The sound of the midnight bell reaches a traveler's boat

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

(Hsieh Ling-yun (385-433)

Dwelling in the Mountains #6

Here where I live,
lakes on the left, rivers on the right,
you leave islands, follow shores back

to mountains out front, ridges behind.
Looming east and toppling aside west,

they harbor ebb and flow of breath,
arch across and snake beyond, devious

churning and roiling into distances,
clifftop ridgelines hewn flat and true.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wang Wei (699-759)

Green-Water Stream

To reach the Yellow-Flowered River
Go by the Green-Water Stream.
A thousand twists and turns of mountain
But the way there can’t be many miles.
The sound of water falling over rocks
And deep colour among pines.
Gently green floating water-plants.
Bright the mirrored reeds and rushes.
I am a lover of true quietness.
Watching the flow of clear water
I dream of sitting on the uncarved rock
casting a line on the endless stream.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Eihei Dogen (1200-1253)

"Mind itself is buddha" -- difficult to practice, but easy to explain;
"No mind, no buddha" -- difficult to explain, but easy to practice.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)

(Declining her request that he return home for the funerals of his wife and his mother.)

I've been fifty years a monk.
My body's bent over
And my pallid face shows my long companionship
With acrid smoke.

Everything changes. People come and go.
Even mountains do not stay the same.
Mulberry trees used to thrive in these parts,
Now their soft dark green is nowhere found.

If we let them, griefs would pile up in our hearts.
The Buddha taught us Chan, the way of Emptiness,
The way to keep things fresh and clean.
My mind settled and alone in contemplation.

Half a century the affairs of life continued.
Take time away from them!
The ways of this world won't transport you
To the Land of Peace.

Don't make distinctions - what's mine or yours.
Don't divide things - what you have and what you don't

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Zhang Xu (fl. 8th Cent.)

A bridge flies away through a wild mist,
Yet here are the rocks and the fisherman's boat.
Oh, if only this river of floating peach-petals
Might lead me at last to the mythical cave!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fujiwara no Michinobu (972-994)

Though I know indeed
That the night will come again
After day has dawned,
Still, in truth, I hate the sight
Of the morning's coming light.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chuang Tzu (369-268 BC)

The Giant Peng Bird

In the Northern Sea there is a fish
Its name is Kun
The great size of Kun
We know not how many thousand leagues

Its name is Peng
The wingspan of Peng
We know not how many thousand leagues
It surges into flight.

Its wings are like the clouds that hang from the sky
This , when the ocean begins to heave
Will travel to the Southern Sea
The Southern Sea - the heavenly pond

Li Po (Li Bai-701-762)


A Vindication

If heaven loved not the wine,
A Wine Star would not be in heaven;
If earth loved not the wine,
The Wine Spring would not be on the earth.
Since heaven and earth love the wine,
Need a tippling mortal be ashamed?
The transparent wine, I hear,
Has the soothing virtue of a sage,
While the turgid is rich, they say,
As the fertile mind of the wise.
Both the sage and the wise were drinkers,
Why seek for peers among gods and goblins?
Three cups open the grand door to bliss;
Take a jugful, the universe is yours.
Such is the rapture of the wine,
That the sober shall never inherit.

Li Po

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Li Ching Chao (1084-c.1150)

Our Boat Starts At Night by Li Ching Chao
Our boat starts at night
from the beach of Yen Kuang.

Great ships sail only for profit
Only small boats come here because of your fame.
The passers-by are embarrassed by your virtue.
So in the night we steal by the place where you used to fish.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ryokan (1758-1831)

Autumn's first drizzle
by Ryokan

English version by John Stevens
Original Language Japanese

Autumn's first drizzle:
How delightful,
The nameless mountain.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ts'ai-Ken T'an

A crane may seem superior among chickens,
but it will be dwarfed by the Great Peng bird over the ocean.
It is further miniaturized by the Phoenix surfing high in the unreachable space.
So a superior person always tries to be humble and empty.
The most cultivated usually refrains from being snobbish and aggressive.

Sunday, October 7, 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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Liu Han (fl 1190)

Autumn at the Gate
Liu Han

The quacking is gone the jade screen is empty
My pillow feels cool fanned by the wind
Autumn sounds wake me but where are their traces
Paulownia leaves cover the steps in the moonlight

Friday, October 5, 2012

Du Fu (712-770)

Du Fu

A cold wind blows from the far sky....
What are you thinking of, old friend?
The wildgeese never answer me.
Rivers and lakes are flooded with rain.
...A poet should beware of prosperity,
Yet demons can haunt a wanderer.
Ask an unhappy ghost, throw poems to him
Where he drowned himself in the Milo River.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Yuan Zhengzhen (C. 1200)

paddling the lake

to the tune of changxiangsi (long lovesickness)

by Yuan Zhengzhen

to the north
to the south
mountains loom in the clouds

these mountains, this lake,
this scene
as if painted

I pluck a lotus
for pleasure

paddling a red boat
west to east

no path to the one I miss

Wednesday, October 3, 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.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)


One year and then another.
Appearances gradually change.
Bone marrow shrivels.
Eyebrows thin away.

This time-limited body is like a mound of slurry.
In the Triple World, earth, air, fire and water mingle and change.
This is all our emotions allow us to notice
And their sight obstructs our view of Heaven.

One month and then another.
The light and dark pass like melting snow.
No part can be kept for long.
Only the Dharma does not come or go.
The lacquer bowl suddenly breaks.
You are like the Dragon of Heaven - born to be lively and free.
A roc can't live in a crane's nest.
A little jiaoliao bird needs to stay near mosquito ponds.

One day and then another.
They never wear themselves out.
Give up your judgments about everything.
It's all insubstantial in the end.

All things under the sun come to an end and dissolve.
Spend what time you have in honest simplicity.
Just one breath of the Eternal
Admits you to the Great Chamber.

One hour and then another.
Inexorably march, step by step.
Whenever I meet you, we each smile.
But who is it who drags your corpse around?

Steadfast and unchangeable
Always mindful of this or that.
You're young and strong. Exert yourself!
Don't wait... oh please don't wait
Until you're much too old and weak.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Feng-Kan (Big Stick- C750-850)

Sinking like a rock in the sea
drifting through the Three Worlds
poor ethereal creature
ever immersed in scenes
until a flash of lightning shows
life and death are dust in space