Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Wang Wei (701-761)

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.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Li Deyu (787-849)

Climbing Yazhou Town Wall
*****Li Deyu

Alone in tower I face Changan,
For birds it's a half year journey.
Green mountains don't let me leave,
No way to escape this coiling city wall.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lao Tzu (604BC-531BC)

The Way   - cannot be told.
                  TheName - cannot be named.
                  The nameless is the Way of Heaven and Earth.
                  The named is Matrix of the Myriad Creatures.
                  Eliminate desire to find the Way.
                  Embrace desire to know the Creature.
                                      The Tao Te Ching  I

Friday, December 19, 2014

Du Fu (712-770)

Thinking of Li Bai at the End of the Sky
Du Fu

Cold wind rises at the end of the sky,
What thoughts occupy the gentleman's mind?
What time will the wild goose come?
The rivers and lakes are full of autumn's waters.
Literature and worldly success are opposed,
Demons exult in human failure.
Talk together with the hated poet,
Throw a poem into Miluo river.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wumen (1183-1260)

The great way has no gate;
There are a thousand paths to it.
If you pass through the barrier
You walk the univcrse alone.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Su Tung-po (1037-1101)

On the birth of his son

Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.
Su Tung-po :

Yang Wanli (1127-1206)

Listening to the Rain

A year ago my boat, homeward bound,
moored at Yen-ling-
I was kept awake all night by the rain
beating against the sails
Last night the rain fell on the thatched roof
of my house.
I dreamed of che sound of rain
beating against the sails.
Yang Wanli :

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

sin like a madman until you can’t do anything else
no room for any more

—  Ikkyu Sojun

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Li Po (701-762)

Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,
And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.
Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?
Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?
The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.
So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil,—what for?
Li Po :

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tao Qian (325-467)

Returning to Live in the South
Tao Qian

When young, I'd not enjoyed the common pleasures,
My nature's basic love was for the hills.
Mistakenly I fell into the worldly net,
And thus remained for thirteen years.
A bird once caged must yearn for its old forest,
A fish in a pond will long to return to the lake.
So now I want to head to southern lands,
Returning to my fields and orchards there.
About ten acres of land is all I have,
Just eight or nine rooms there in my thatched hut.
There's shade from elms and willows behind the eaves,
Before the hall are gathered peaches and plums.
Beyond the dark and distance lies a village,
The smoke above reluctant to depart.
A dog is barking somewhere down the lane,
And chickens sit atop the mulberry tree.
The mundane world has no place in my home,
My modest rooms are for the most part vacant.
At last I feel released from my confinement,
I set myself to rights again.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Yang Wan-li (1127-1206)

Cold Sparrows
Hundreds of cold sparrows dive into the empty courtyard,
cluster on plum branches and speak of sun after rain at dusk.
They choose to gather en masse and kill me with noise.
Suddenly startled, they disperse. Then, soundlessness.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Han Yu (768-824)

Light Rain Early in Spring
Han Yu

In light rain, Heaven Street is moist like butter,
The grass is green from afar, but not nearby.
The spring is best this time every year,
The mist of willow blossom fills the capital.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bai Juyi (772-846)

My heritage lost through disorder and famine,
My brothers and sisters flung eastward and westward,
My fields and gardens wrecked by the war,
My own flesh and blood become scum of the street,
I moan to my shadow like a lone-wandering wildgoose,
I am torn from my root like a water-plant in autumn:
I gaze at the moon, and my tears run down
For hearts, in five places, all sick with one wish.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Yosa Buson (1716-1784)

Rape blossoms
Moon in the east
Sun in the west
– Buson

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)

mountain temple
by Kobayashi Issa

English version by David G. Lanoue
Original Language Japanese

mountain temple--
deep under snow
a bell

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Liu Zongyuans (773-819)

River Snow

A thousand mountains. Flying birds vanish.
Ten thousand paths. Human traces erased.
One boat, bamboo hat, bark cape-an old man.
Alone with his hook. Cold river. Snow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ryosen (c. 1840)

The Monk Ryosen

In my loneliness
I leave my little hut.
When I look around,
Everywhere it is the same:
One lone, darkening autumn eve.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Du Fu (712-770)

Night Journey Thoughts

        Bent grasses in slender breeze.
        Boat’s mast high in empty night.
        Starlight shining near the plain.
        Moon floating on river’s light.
        All this writing, but no name.
        Illness and years, without a place.
        Drifting, wandering, what am I?
        A white bird over earth and sky.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cen Shen (Tang Dynasty)

Iron Gate Pass
        Cen Shen (Tang)

Iron Gate Pass at world's edge, 
Few travelers to be seen.
One lowly official closes the gate, 
All day just see stone walls.
Mountain bridge, a thousand dangerous steps, 
Narrow road winds between sharp cliffs.
I climbing west tower to look,
One glance and my head turns white!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Liu Yung (fl.1034)

Where I Graze
Where I gaze, the rain is ending
and the clouds break up,
as I lean at the rail in anxious silence
seeing off the last of autumn’s glow.
The evening scene is lovely enough
to chill an ancient poet into sadness,
and though the touch of wind and rain is light,
the duckweed gradually grows older.
In the moonlit frost the Wu-t’ung’s
leaves whirl yellow.
Giving love is taking pain:
Where are you now?
The misty waters: vast, and vague.
Writing or drinking, it’s hard to forget….
How many nights alone beneath the clouded moon?
Again the changes, stars and frost, seas broad,
the heavens far, and no way home.
Swallows pair, as I depend on letters.
I point into the evening sky, but
there is no returning boat.
At dusk we gaze at one another,
In the sound of the swans’ cry,
Standing ‘til the slanting sun is set. .

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Li Shangyin (813-858)


The Son of Heaven in Yuanhe times was martial as a god
And might be likened only to the Emperors Xuan and Xi.
He took an oath to reassert the glory of the empire,
And tribute was brought to his palace from all four quarters.
Western Huai for fifty years had been a bandit country,
Wolves becoming lynxes, lynxes becoming bears.
They assailed the mountains and rivers, rising from the plains,
With their long spears and sharp lances aimed at the Sun.
But the Emperor had a wise premier, by the name of Du,
Who, guarded by spirits against assassination,
Hong at his girdle the seal of state, and accepted chief command,
While these savage winds were harrying the flags of the Ruler of Heaven.
Generals Suo, Wu, Gu, and Tong became his paws and claws;
Civil and military experts brought their writingbrushes,
And his recording adviser was wise and resolute.
A hundred and forty thousand soldiers, fighting like lions and tigers,
Captured the bandit chieftains for the Imperial Temple.
So complete a victory was a supreme event;
And the Emperor said: "To you, Du, should go the highest honour,
And your secretary, Yu, should write a record of it."
When Yu had bowed his head, he leapt and danced, saying:
"Historical writings on stone and metal are my especial art;
And, since I know the finest brush-work of the old

Jiao Ran (730-799)

On Lu Jianhong's Absence During My Visit to Him You moved to the city outskirts
on a wild path leading through mulberry and hemp.
Chrysanthemums newly planted by your fence;
it's autumn but they're not in bloom.
No dog barks when I knock on the door.
I went to ask your neighbor to the west:
he says you disappear into the mountains
and return through the slanting sunset.   

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wang Wei (701-761)

For Mêng Hao-jan

Never to see that true friend again.
Han River gleams wide to the east.
I might ask where his island’s found.
River and hills. Empty is his place.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Li Po (701-762)

Amidst The Flowers A Jug Of Wine

Amidst the flowers a jug of wine,
I pour alone lacking companionship.
So raising the cup I invite the Moon,
Then turn to my shadow which makes three of us.
Because the Moon does not know how to drink,
My shadow merely follows the movement of my body.
The moon has brought the shadow to keep me company a while,
The practice of mirth should keep pace with spring.
I start a song and the moon begins to reel,
I rise and dance and the shadow moves grotesquely.
While I'm still conscious let's rejoice with one another,
After I'm drunk let each one go his way.
Let us bind ourselves for ever for passionless journeyings.
Let us swear to meet again far in the Milky Way.
Li Po :

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Yang Wanli (1127-1206)

Don't read books'
Don't chant poems'
When you read books your eyeballs wlther away
leaving the bare sockets
When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly
wlth each word
People say reading books is enjoyable
People say chanting poems is fun
But if your lips constantly make a sound
like an insect chlrping ln autumn
you will only turn into a haggard old man
And even lf you don't turn into a haggard old man
lts annoying for others to have to hear you

It's so much better
to close your eyes sit in your study
lower the curtains, sweep the floor,
burn incense.
take a walk when you feel energetic,
and when you're tired go to sleep.                             

Friday, November 21, 2014

Midang Sŏ Chŏng-ju (1915-2000)

Beside a chrysanthemum


For one chrysanthemum to bloom

the nightingale

must have wept like that since spring.


For one chrysanthemum to bloom

the thunder

must have rolled like that in sombre clouds


Chrysanthemum! You look like my sister

standing before her mirror, just back

from far away, far away byways of youth,

where she was racked with longing and lack.


For your yellow petals to bloom

the frost must have come down like that last night

and I was not able to get to sleep.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Tale of Genji - Murasaki Shikibu (11th cent.)

The evening sky itself
becomes something to cherish
when I gaze at it,
seeing in one of the clouds
the smoke from her funeral pyre

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hsu Wei (1521-1593)

Cloud Gate Temple/ Painting Plum Trees
Floating bridge
water flowing
the snow
as I wander
late in March
the buds
now green
in trees
with coldness,
but the only plum blossoms
to be seen
are in my painting.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jia Dao (779-843)

Seeking but Not Finding the Recluse
Under pines
I ask the boy;
he says: "My master's gone
to gather herbs.I only know
he's on this mountain,but the clouds are too deep
to know where."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Han-shan Te-ch'ing

Mountain living: twenty poems
Down beneath the pines,
a few thatched huts.
Before my eyes,
everywhere blue mountains,
and where the sun and moon
restless rise and fall,
this old white cloud
idly comes and goes.
When plum petals among the snows
first spring free
from the ends of night,
a dark fragrance flies
to the cold lantern
where I sit alone
and suddenly storms
my nostrils wide.
Through a few splinters of
white cloud, motionless,
the Buddha wheel bright moon
comes flying
to accompany me
in my mountain stillness…
and I smile up at it
above the dirty suffering world.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Saigyo Hoshi (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.
Saigyo :

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

A cool fall night

At a hermitage:

A cool fall night--
getting dinner, we peeled
eggplants, cucumbers.

Translated by Robert Hass
Matsuo Basho :

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Han Yu (768-824)

The Gorge of Virtuous Women
The river curves, the gorge narrows, spring current is wild,
thunder and wind battle and scare off fish and dragons.
A suspended torrent whoosh! plunges into a water palace,
rushing down thirty miles like rolling clouds.
A floating boat hits a rock and shatters into thousands like a
     smashed tile.
An inch or foot amiss, and life will drift off light as a feather.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Qian Xu (10th cent.)

Traveling on the Yangtze
        Qian Xu  10th c.

So close but plagued by wind and rain
I can't climb Kuanglushan
I wonder if in those mist-hidden caves
any Six Dyansty monks still dwell

Monday, November 10, 2014

Wang Wei (699-759)

In Answer
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.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Su Tung-po (1037-1101)

Battle of Red Cliff

The Yangtze flows east
Washing away
A thousand ages of great men
West of the ramparts --
People say --
Are the fabled Red Cliffs of young Chou of the Three Kingdoms
Rebellious rocks pierce the sky
Frightening waves rip the bank
The backwash churns vast snowy swells --
River and mountains like a painting
how many heroes passed them, once ...

Think back to those years, Chou Yu --
Just married to the younger Chiao --
Brave, brilliant
With plumed fan, silk kerchief
Laughed and talked
While masts and oars vanished to flying ash and smoke!
I roam through ancient realms
Absurdly moved
Turn gray too soon --
A man's life passes like a dream --
Pour out a cup then, to the river, and the moon

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Japanese Woodblock Prints

Chen Sanli (1853-1937)

Crossing Poyang Lake On Way To Wucheng
        Chen Sanli 1853-1937

My eyes riveted to Lake Viewing Pavilion,
Willows warmed by the setting sun.
Those who excel at statecraft,
Are only praised by cawing crows.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Li Po (701-762)

Autumn River Song

The moon shimmers in green water.
White herons fly through the moonlight.

The young man hears a girl gathering water-chestnuts:
into the night, singing, they paddle home together.

Li T'ai-po

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Jia Zhi (718-772)

Morning Court at Daming Palace
Jia Zhi 718-772

Silver lanterns light the sky along imperial streels
In spring forbidden walls turn bright green at dawn
Countless hanging catkins veil the painted gates
A hundred twittering orioles encircle Jianzhang Court
The sounds of swords and pendants echo up jade steps
Every robe and hat is lined with incense soot
And bathed in waves of grace at Phoenix Pond
And daily stained with ink in the service of our lord

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chia Tao (779-843)

Looking for the Hermit and Not Finding Him
Beneath a pine I question a boy.
He says “Master has gone to gather herbs
somewhere on the mountain
but who knows where? The clouds are deep.”

Sunday, November 2, 2014

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.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chen Ziang (661-702)

Ahead I cannot see the ancient faces,

Behind I cannot see the coming sages.

I brood upon the endlessness of Nature,

Lonely and sick at heart, with falling tears.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Yun-men Wen-yen (864-949)

But I say unto you,                   Take this staff just as a staff;
                  Movement is movement;
                  Sitting is sitting,
                             but don't wobble
                             under any circumstances!
                  My staff has turned into a dragon
                             and swallowed up the whole world.
                  Where are the poor mountains and rivers and great earth now?

                   Vasubandhu happened to transform himself
                   Into a staff of chestnut wood, and,
                   Striking the earth once,
                   All the innumerable Buddhas were released
                              from their entangling words.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mei Yaochen (1002-1060)

A Rural Home
Mei Yaochen

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.