II is the Fifth Month, 1
But still the Heaven-high hills
Shine with snow.
There are no flowers
For the heart of the earth is yet too chilly.
From the centre of the camp
Comes the sound of a flute
Playing "The Snapped Willow." 2
No colour mists the trees,
Not yet have their leaves broken.
At dawn, there is the shock and shouting of battle,
Following the drums and the loud metal gongs.
At night, the soldiers sleep, clasping the pommels of their jade-ornamented saddles.
They sleep lightly,
With their two-edged swords girt below their loins,
So that they may be able in an instant to rush upon the Barbarians 3
And destroy them.
Do not be offended because
I am slow to go out. You know
Me too well for that. On my lap
I hold my little girl. At my
Knees stands my handsome little son.
One has just begun to talk.
The other chatters without
Stopping. They hang on my clothes
And follow my every step.
I can’t get any farther
Than the door. I am afraid
I will never make it to your house.
When the Dharma body awakens completely (from The Shodoka)
by Hsuan Chueh of Yung Chia / Yoka Genkaku
English version by Robert Aitken
Original Language Chinese
When the Dharma body awakens completely,
There is nothing at all.
The source of our self-nature
Is the Buddha of innocent truth.
Mental and physical reactions come and go
Like clouds in the empty sky;
Greed, hatred, and ignorance appear and disappear
Like bubbles on the surface of the sea.
I walk across a frozen pond.
Here is where the water-lilies were.
Under here was the black rock where the catfish would hide.
Occasionally a cracking sound as if it is splitting
as love grows deeper.
All the irises are bent over.
My shoulders, knees, feet, that all summer long I saw reflected, sitting on this rock, have frozen like the irises.
They too show no sign of having watched the reflection of something before this.
Although the fourteenth-day moon comes in its course, icily
all remain silent.
Suppose someone comes along,
loud steps treading on the pond,
and addresses me anxiously, saying:
“This is where I used to be.”
“This is where that star used to come.”
Thirty years ago I was born into the world.
A thousand, ten thousand miles I've roamed.
By rivers where the green grass grows thick,
Beyond the border where the red sands fly.
I brewed potions in a vain search for life everlasting,
I read books, I sang songs of history,
And today I've come home to Cold Mountain
To pillow my head on the stream and wash my ears.
Beneath the Moon, Before the Steps (Gratitude for New Bounties)
Beneath the moon, before the steps, all cherry blossom has fallen,
Enwreathed in smoke, she looks sorrowful lying in bed.
She feels the same regret today as one long year ago.
Both braids like cloud in disarray, her face is wan and sallow,
The crimson corset wet from wiping tears.
But what's the reason why she suffers so?
She lies in a drunken dream before the window.
English version by Thomas Cleary
Original Language Chinese
Before our body existed,
One energy was already there.
Like jade, more lustrous as it's polished,
Like gold, brighter as it's refined.
Sweep clear the ocean of birth and death,
Stay firm by the door of total mastery.
A particle at the point of open awareness,
The gentle firing is warm.
The ancient one
flew off on his yellow crane,
Now this place is empty
only Yellow Crane Tower remains.
The Yellow Crane
once gone never returns,
White clouds for a thousand years
empty and remote.
Boats and Hanyang trees
reflect in clear water,
Lush vegetation thrives
on Parrot Shoal.
At dusk I ask for news of home,
These mist shrouded waters
heavy on my heart.
In these quiet years growing calmer,
Lacking knowledge of the world’s affairs,
I stop worrying how things will turn out.
My quiet mind makes no subtle plans.
Returning to the woods I love
A pine-tree breeze rustles in my robes.
Mountain moonlight fills the lute’s bowl,
Shows up what learning I have left.
If you ask what makes us rich or poor
Hear the Fisherman’s voice float to shore.
The cock crows three times; the sky is almost light.
Someone's lined up bowls of rice, along with flasks of tea.
Anxiously, the peasants rush to start the ploughing early,
I pull aside the willow shutter and gaze at the morning stars.
Should Heaven rain pearls, the cold cannot wear them as clothes;
Should Heaven rain jade, the hungry cannot use it as food.
It has rained without cease for three days--
Whose was the influence at work?
Should you say it was that of your Governor,
The Governor himself refers it to the Son of Heaven.
But the Son of Heaven says "No! It was God."
And God says "No! It was Nature."
And as Nature lies beyond the ken of man,
I christen this arbour instead.
Blending with the wind,
Blending with the snow,
The wind blows.
By the hearth
I stretch out my legs,
Idling my time away
Confined in this hut.
Counting the days,
I find that February, too,
Has come and gone
Like a dream.