Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Meng Hao-jan (689-740)

Climbing Long-View Mountain's Highest Peak

Rivers and mountains beyond the form seen:
Hsiang-yang's beauty brings them in reach,

and Long-View has the highest peak around.
Somehow I'd never climbed its cragged heights,

its rocky cliffs like walls hacked and scraped
and towering over mountains crowded near,

but today, skies so bright and clear, I set out.
Soon the far end of sight's all boundless away,

Cloud-Dream southlands a trifle in the palm,
Warrior-Knoll lost in that realm of blossoms.

And back on my horse, riding home at dusk,
a vine-sifted moon keeps the stream lit deep.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Yau Ywe-Hwa (Tang Dynasty)

Still He Does Not Come
by Yau Ywe-Hwa (T'ang Dynasty)

I have been here a long time,
With silver candles
And sparkling wine,
Walking up to the gate
And back again,
Watching for him
Till it's nearly daylight.

Now the moon has set,
The stars are few,
And still he does not come.

Suddenly wingbeats drum
In the misty willows;
A magpie flies off.

In China the magpie is associated with happiness. In this case the happiness of the poetess is flying away.

Monday, January 28, 2013

T'ao Ch'ien (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.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gao Shi (d.765)


The northeastern border of China was dark with smoke and dust.
To repel the savage invaders, our generals, leaving their families,
Strode forth together, looking as heroes should look;
And having received from the Emperor his most gracious favour,
They marched to the beat of gong and drum through the Elm Pass.
They circled the Stone Tablet with a line of waving flags,
Till their captains over the Sea of Sand were twanging feathered orders.
The Tartar chieftain's hunting-fires glimmered along Wolf Mountain,
And heights and rivers were cold and bleak there at the outer border;
But soon the barbarians' horses were plunging through wind and rain.
Half of our men at the front were killed, but the other half are living,
And still at the camp beautiful girls dance for them and sing.
...As autumn ends in the grey sand, with the grasses all withered,
The few surviving watchers by the lonely wall at sunset,
Serving in a good cause, hold life and the foeman lightly.
And yet, for all that they have done, Elm Pass is still unsafe.
Still at the front, iron armour is worn and battered thin,
And here at home food-sticks are made of jade tears.
Still in this southern city young wives' hearts are breaking,
While soldiers at the northern border vainly look toward home.
The fury of the wind cuts our men's advance
In a place of death and blue void, with nothingness ahead.
Three times a day a cloud of slaughter rises over the camp;
And all night long the hour-drums shake their chilly booming,
Until white swords can be seen again, spattered with red blood.
...When death becomes a duty, who stops to think of fame?
Yet in speaking of the rigours of warfare on the desert
We name to this day Li, the great General, who lived long ago.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ono no Komachi (c.825-c.900)

Though I go to you
ceaselessly along dream paths,
the sum of those trysts
is less than a single glimpse
granted in the waking world.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

If you break open the cherry tree,
Where are the flowers?
But in the spring time, see how they bloom!

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.

why is it all so beautiful this fake dream
this craziness why?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tsu Yeh (4th Cent.)

Tzu Yeh (a Chinese poetess of the Chin Dynasty)
five short poems translated by Arthur Waley

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.

I heard my love was going to Yang-chou
And went with him as far as Ch’u-shan.
For a moment when you held me fast in your outstretched arms
I thought the river stood still and did not flow.

Longing, I watch out the open window,
my sash untied, long sleeves dragging.
This breeze lifts gauze so easily,
if my skirt should open, blame the warm spring wind.

Winter skies are cold and low,
with harsh winds and freezing sleet.
But when we make love beneath our quilt,
we make three summer months of heat.

When she approached you on the street,
you couldn't possibly say no.
But your neglect of me is nothing new.
Hinges soon sag on an empty door:
it won't fit snug like it did before.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Du Fu (712-770)

I HAD already wandered away from the People's Temple, 126
But I was obliged to sleep within the temple precincts.
The dark ravine was full of the music of silence,
The moon scattered bright shadows through the forest.
The Great Gate against the sky seemed to impinge upon the paths of the planets.
Sleeping among the clouds, my upper garments, my lower garments, were cold.
Wishing to wake, I heard the sunrise bell
Commanding men to come forth and examine themselves in meditation.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)

Heart Of The Buddha

By Master Hsu Yun

No need to chase back and forth like the waves.
The same water which ebbs is the same water that flows.
No point turning back to get water
When it's flowing around you in all directions
The heart of the Buddha and the people of the world...
Where is there any difference?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lu Yun

The Valley Wind

Living in retirement beyond the World,
Silently enjoying isolation,
I pull the rope of my door tighter
And stuff my window with roots and ferns.
My spirit is tuned to the Spring-season:
At the fall of the year
There is autumn in my heart.
Thus imitating cosmic changes,
My cottage becomes a Universe.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bai Juyi (772-846)

Peach Blossom at Dalin Temple
Bai Juyi

Across the world this June, the petals all have fallen,
But the mountain temple's peach blossom has just begun to bloom.
I regretted so much that spring had gone without a trace,
I didn't know that it had only moved up here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

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, January 17, 2013

Saigyo (1118-1190)

How wonderful

How wonderful, that
Her heart
Should show me kindness;
And of all the numberless folk,
Grief should not touch me.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Po Chu-i (772-846)

Autumn’s Cold

here’s my snowy crown
time’s tinted decrepitude
there’s the frost in the courtyard
autumn’s glittery breath
now I’m sick and just watching my wife
pick cure-alls
then I’m frozen waiting for the maid
to comb my hair
without the body
what use fame?
worldly things
I’ve put aside
I delve my heart
determined now
to learn from Empty Boats!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Han Shan (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.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

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

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Monk Sogi (1421-1502)

That man's life is but a dream -
is what we now come to know.

Its house abandoned,
the garden has become home
to butterflies.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Xue Tao (768-831)

Willow Catkins

In February, light, fine willow catkins
play with people's clothes in spring breeze;
they are heartless creatures,
flying south one moment, then north again.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831)

In The Morning

In the morning, bowing to all;
In the evening, bowing to all.
Respecting others is my only duty--
Hail to the Never-despising Bodhisattva.

In heaven and earth he stands alone.

A real monk
Only one thing--
a heart like
Never-despising Buddha.

Taigu Ryokan

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Eihei Dogen (1200-1253)

One of six verses composed in An'yoin Temple in Fukakusa, 1230:
by Eihei Dogen

English version by Steven Heine
Original Language Japanese

Drifting pitifully in the whirlwind of birth and death,
As if wandering in a dream,
In the midst of illusion I awaken to the true path;
There is one more matter I must not neglect,
But I need not bother now,
As I listen to the sound of the evening rain
Falling on the roof of my temple retreat
In the deep grass of Fukakusa.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Li Ching-chao (1084-1155)

Li Qingzhao (Li Ching-chao, 1084-1155)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

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 ...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wang Wei (699-761)

Bird Song Torrent

The man at his ease: the cassia flowers falling.
Night quiet: Spring mountain empty.
Moon-rise: shocks the mountain birds.
Sometimes you’ll hear their cries, among spring’s torrents.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)

Clouds and Mist (a rare sight) on the Gansu Road
Cold smoke lingers like fog around a single lit house.
Like a lonely star the house rises up out of the cloud.

The ground is red like the inside of a fish's cheeks.
The mountains dark blue like a spiral conch's flared headdress.

Around half the pond grow poet Tao Qian's willows
And every ten miles stands one of Lord Xie Lingyun's pavilions.

To say Hello and Goodbye to such congenial and famous guests
Takes my breath away! Gives me a heady feeling
That's pretty hard to match.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

T'ao Ch'ien (365-427)

Ninth Day, Ninth Month

Slowly autumn comes to an end.

Painfully cold a dawn wind thicks the dew.

Grass round here will not be green again,

Trees and leaves are already suffering.

The clear air is drained and purified

And the high white sky’s a mystery.

Nothing’s left of the cicada’s sound.

Flying geese break the heavens’ silence.

The Myriad Creatures rise and return.

How can life and death not be hard?

From the beginning all things have to die.

Thinking of it can bruise the heart.

What can I do to lighten my thoughts?

Solace myself drinking the last of this wine.

Who understands the next thousand years?

Let’s just make this morning last forever.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Luo Bin Wang (640-684)

In Prison the Cicadas Still Sing

Along the road running west
The cicadas sing
And from the south too
So loudly it sounds like
A visitor approaching

How long the song lasts
From their fragile black wings
Yet my white shaggy head
Detects a note of gloom

As autumn’s heavy mists
Make flight unthinkable
And the wind grows stronger
Their song will be submerged

So too by my fellow man
I have been left here forgotten
No one shows the least regard
For the songs that yet
Would fill my heart

Thursday, January 3, 2013

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?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

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.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Keijo Shurin (1444-1518)

The road enters green mountains near evening's dark;
Beneath the white cherry trees, a Buddhist temple
Whose priest doesn't know what regret for spring's passing means-
Each stroke of his bell startles more blossoms into falling.