Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

;Lao Tzu (604-531 BC)

The Emptiness of a Vessel

The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel;

and in our employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness.

How deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of
all things!

We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of things;

we should attemper our brightness, and bring ourselves into agreement with the obscurity of others.

How pure and still the Tao is, as if it would ever so continue!

I do not know whose son it is. It might appear to have been before God.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Huang O (1498-1569)

To the tune “Soaring Clouds”
by Huang O (1498-1569)

You held my lotus blossom
In your lips and played with the
Pistil. We took one piece of
Magic rhinoceros horn
And could not sleep all night long.
All night the cock’s gorgeous crest
Stood erect. All night the bee
Clung trembling to the flower
Stamens. Oh my sweet perfumed
Jewel! I will allow only
My lord to possess my sacred
Lotus pond, and every night
You can make blossom in me
Flowers of fire.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Eihei Dogen Zenji (1200-1253)

Ching-ch'ing's raindrop sound
by Eihei Dogen

English version by Steven Heine
Original Language Japanese

Because the mind is free --
Listening to the rain
Dripping from the eaves,
The drops become
One with me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Li Shang-Yin (c. 900)

"The East Wind Sighs"


The East wind sighs, the fine rains come:

Beyond the pool of water-lilies, the noise of faint thunder.

A gold toad gnaws the lock. Open it. Burn the incense.

A tiger of jade pulls the rope. Draw from the well and escape.

Chia's daughter peeped through the screen when Han the clerk was young.

The goddess of the river left her pillow for the great Prince of Wei.

Never let your heart open with the spring flowers:

One inch of love is an inch of ashes.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Confucius (551-479 BC)

At Fifteen

The Master said, “At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning.

”At thirty, I stood firm.

“At forty, I had no doubts.

”At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven.

”At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth.

“At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without
transgressing what was right.”

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yang Wanli (1127-1206)

Reading by the Window

I idly open a book of T'ang poems
and find a petal of peach blossom, still fresh.
I remember taking this book with me
to read among the flowers
and realize that another year has passed.

Yang Wanli

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wang Bo (649-676)


By this wall that surrounds the three Qin districts,
Through a mist that makes five rivers one,
We bid each other a sad farewell,
We two officials going opposite ways....
And yet, while China holds our friendship,
And heaven remains our neighbourhood,
Why should you linger at the fork of the road,
Wiping your eyes like a heart-broken child?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tao Chien (365-427)

Success and failure? No known address.
This or that goes on, depending on the other.
And who can say if Milord Shao was happier
ruling a city, or sacked, his excellent melon patch?
Hot, cold, summer, winter: don't they alternate?
Mayn't a man's way wander on just so?
Yes, those who "get there" know their opportunities...
have learned to untie the knots of knowledge.
But was it the notable or the notorious that our Sage spoke of?
The latter he called opportunists. Those who get there, doubtless,
know doubt nor care no more. Yet, doubt you not, nor do dead generals,
who plotted carefully at what seemed opportune,
and knew naught, right or wrong.
If, of a sudden, you're offered fine wine,
let the sun sink. Enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Han Yu (768-824)

Snow in Spring
Han Yu

The new year's come, but still the plants don't grow,
First in March I'm startled by grass shoots.
The white snow thinks the colours of spring are late,
So through the pavilion and trees it flies like blossom.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Liu Changqing (714-790)

To a Poet Monk
Liu Changqing

The Bamboo Groves Temple
stands amidst the deep green,
the temple bell carrying
the evening far
in a breeze.
A straw hat fastening
the setting sun,
you retreat alone
into the blue.
distant mountains.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Daini no Sanmi, Lady Kataiko (999-1082)

Daini no Sanmi, Lady Kataiko

As Mount Arima
Sends its rustling winds across
Ina's bamboo plains,
I will be just as steadfast
And never will forget you.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Du Fu (712-770)

Clearing Rain
Du Fu

The sky's water has fallen, and autumn clouds are thin,
The western wind has blown ten thousand li.
This morning's scene is good and fine,
Long rain has not harmed the land.
The row of willows begins to show green,
The pear tree on the hill has little red flowers.
A hujia pipe begins to play upstairs,
One goose flies high into the sky.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lady Murasaki Shikibu (973-1014)

Lady Murasaki Shikibu

Meeting on the path:
But I cannot clearly know
If it was he,
Because the midnight moon
In a cloud had disappeared.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wang Wei (699-759)


Middle-aged now, following the Way.

Settled at evening near the Chungnan slopes.

Delight, and I wander off by myself

Searching for what I need to see alone.

I climb up to the roots of the streams,

Sit and watch the White Clouds pass,

Meet the old man of the woods,

Talk and laugh, forget to go home.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Yang Wan-li (1127-1206)

At Dawn, See Off Lin Zifang At Pure Benevolence Temple

Now it comes, mid June on West Lake,
Four seasons, the vista ever unique.
Lotus leaves to the horizon, boundless green,
Sun glow on lotus buds, peerless red.

Yang Wanli

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831)

Down In The Village

Down in the village
the din of
flute and drum,
here deep in the mountain
everywhere the sound of the pines.

Taigu Ryokan

Monday, July 15, 2013

Li Ching-jau (1084-1151)

Spring In Wu-ling
by Li Ching-jau (Southern Sung Period, 1135 A.D.)

The wind is still,
The earth smells sweet;
The flowers all have fallen here.

As evening comes,
I comb my hair.

His things remain
But he is gone;
So everything's over.

When I try to speak
The tears well up.

I hear that spring's
Still at its height
At Double Creek ...

I think of going to sail
The light skiffs there,
But alas, I fear
The grasshopper-boats
At Double Creek
Could never bear
So great a weight
Of sorrow.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Xue Neng (Tang Dynasty)

Buddha Oil Lamp
Xue Neng (Tang)

Vast vast void, a fitfull lantern,
Gaze enchanted, muddy mist morphs pellucid.
Flame burns out, smoke cut loose from its source,
All night by railing, chatting with a monk.

Du Fu (712-770)

Moonlit Night
Du Fu

The moon shines in Fuzhou tonight,
In her chamber, she watches alone.
I pity my distant boy and girl-
They don't know why she thinks of Chang'an.
Her cloud-like hair is sweet with mist,
Her jade arms cold in the clear moonlight.
When shall we lean in the empty window,
Together in brightness, and tears dried up?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lady Izumi Shikibu (974-?)

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.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1484)

sick of it whatever it's called sick of the names
I dedicate every pore to what's here

a well nobody dug filled with no water
ripples and a shapeless weightless man drinks

oh green green willow wonderfully red flower
but I know the colors are not there

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vegtable Roots Discourse

Watch things move when you are still.
Watch people busy toiling while you are relaxed.
Then you can realize the fun of being out of this world.
Knowing how to be at ease when busy.
Knowing how to quiet down amidst noise.
That is the discipline to keep you healthy and long-lived.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Li Po (Li Bai-701-762)

Summer Day in the Mountains

Too lazy to wave the white plume fan,
stripped to the waist in the green wood's mist,
I loose my headcloth, hang it on a stony wall,
bare my top knot for pine winds to riffle

(Translation by Burton Watson)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hseih Ling-yun (385-433)

Written to Swap, at Tung-yang Creek

Pretty! Some man’s wife, for sure,
washing those so white feet in the stream.
And the moon, bright among the clouds:
far, so far away; just out of reach.

Pretty! He’s some girl’s husband…
Come on a white skiff adrift on the stream.
“Pray, what be thy purpose here,
as the clouds slip over the moon…? “

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wang Wei (701-761)

Deer Enclosure
Wang Wei

Hills are empty, no man is seen,
Yet the sound of people's voices is heard.
Light is cast into the deep forest,
And shines again on green moss.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

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.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Li Ching Chao (1084-1181)

As in a Dream

To the melody of "Ru Meng Lin"

Last night in the light rain as rough winds blew,
My drunken sleep left me no merrier.
I question one that raised the curtain, who
Replies: "The wild quince trees -- are as they were."
But no, but no!
Their rose is waning, and their green leaves grow.

Li Ching Chao

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Yosa Buson (1716-1784)

Blow of an ax,
pine scent,
the winter woods.

Translated by Robert Hass

Yosa Buson

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Su Tung P'o (1037-1101)

Pu suan tzu

A fragment moon hangs from the bare tung tree
The water clock runs out, all is still
Who sees the dim figure come and go alone
Misty, indistinct, the shadow of a lone wild goose?

Startled, she gets up, looks back
With longing no one sees
And will not settle on any of the cold branches
Along the chill and lonely beach

Su Tung-po

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Po Chu-i (772-846)

Grass on the Ancient Plain

So tender, so tender, the grasses on the plain,
in one year, to wither, then flourish.
Wild fire cannot burn them away.
Spring breezes’ breath, they spring again.
Their distant fragrance on the ancient way,
Their sunlit emerald greens the ruined walls.
Seeing you off again, dear friend.
Sighing, sighing, full of parting’s pain.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Chuang Tzu (4th cent. bc)

"Starshine and Non-Being "


Starshine asked Non-Being,

"Master, do you exist? Or do you not exist?"

Since he received no answer at all,

Starlight set himself to watch for Non-Being.

He waited to see if Non-Being would appear.

He kept his eyes fixed on the deep Void,

hoping to catch a glimpse of Non-Being.

All day long he looked.

He saw nothing.

He listened.

He heard nothing.

Then Starlight cried out at last: "This is IT!"

"This is the farthest yet! Who can reach it?

I can understand the absence of Being.

But who can understand the absence of Nothing?

If now, on top of all this, Non-Being exists,

Who can understand it?"