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.