Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Monday, June 30, 2014

Li Shangyin (813-858)


Pure of heart and therefore hungry,
All night long you have sung in vain --
Oh, this final broken indrawn breath
Among the green indifferent trees!
Yes, I have gone like a piece of driftwood,
I have let my garden fill with weeds....
I bless you for your true advice
To live as pure a life as yours.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

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.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Yang Wan-li (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 the sound of rain
beating against the sails.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

by Matsuo Basho

English version by Gabriel Rosenstock
Original Language Japanese

     as ice bursts
          the water jar

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ono no Komachi (825-900)

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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Yuan Mei (1716-1797)

Just Done
A month alone behind closed doors
forgotten books, remembered, clear again.
Poems come, like water to the pool
up and out,
from perfect silence

Sunday, June 22, 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.
Note: In the old tale the message of the Fisherman is that the Taoist must dip his feet in the muddy water (of the world) but should wash his hat-strings in the clear water (of the Tao).

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Vegetable Root Discourses (Caigentan)

There is an old saying:   The bamboo shadow cannot dust off the steps.   The sun penetrates the pond leaving no trace on the water.   Our Scholar says :   Though the stream flows swiftly by, the scene is forever still.   While the flowers are wilting rapidly, my mind is cool.   Treats things this way and how at ease I would be.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mizuho Ota (1876-1955)

As it becomes stormlike 
in daytime, in the river bed 
on the rocks there are 
restless and confused 
crows that are crying out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Han Shan Te Ching (1546-1623)

Snow besieges my plank door I crowd the stove at night
although this form exists it seems as if it doesn’t
I have no idea where the months have gone
every time I turn around another year on earth is over

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

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.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bui Chat

Bùi Chát: Difficult to see

The development of the arts
Can end a dictatorship

So many have said
Things like that

The artists who drink on the pavement
Tell about equivocality

A needle hidden in a wrap of cloth
For days would turn into poetry

The unwelcomed citizens

Whichever way the wind blows
We banter
(Translation from Vietnamese: Lê Dình Nhát-Lang)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Saigyo Hoshi (1118-1190)

As banked clouds

As banked clouds
are swept apart by the wind,
at dawn the sudden cry
of the first wild geese
winging across the mountains.
Saigyo :

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Vegetable Root Discourses (Ciagentan)

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.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lao Tzu (604BC-531BC)

18 – When Harmony No Longer Prevailed

When the Great Tao (Way or Method) ceased to be observed,
benevolence and righteousness came into vogue. (Then) appeared wisdom
and shrewdness, and there ensued great hypocrisy.
When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships,
filial sons found their manifestation; when the states and clans fell
into disorder, loyal ministers appeared.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Zhang Jiu Ling (673-740)

Thoughts afar in moonlight                    
A bright moon rising over the sea,
Shores apart, watching the same
Is someone dear to me.
I loath this endless night;
And could not sleep but think of thee.
In this full moon light,       
Who cares for candlelight?
Stepping out I don my gown,
And feel dew on the ground.
I wish to offer you moonlight in a handful,
But, to my real shame, ‘tis impossible.
Retiring to my bed, it seems,
I might find happier days in dreams.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Meng Hao-jan (691-740)

Sent to Ch'ao, the Palace Reviser
You polish words in rue-scented libraries,
and I live in bamboo-leaf gardens, a recluse
wandering each day the same winding path
home to rest in the quiet, no noise anywhere.
A bird soaring the heights chooses its tree,
but the hedge soon tangles impetuous goats.
Today, things seen becoming thoughts felt:
this is where you start forgetting the words.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)

Seeing off a friend on foot

Do you remember how when we were young we soared.
Now, we're old and hobble around on foot.

Then, we were so full of ideas and bold
We even put water in the clouds.
Now we poke at the snow with our walking sticks,
And worry about frost and wind.

Well... you're famous now.
Your literary works are widely known.
Your reputation has reached all the way to the Palace.
The king, I understand, is quite impressed.

Now, living in the mountains meets all my wishes.
I can boast about having known you "then"...
So send me a letter to prove it - and don't forget
To include some of your poignant verse.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Han Yu (768-824)

Late Spring
Han Yu

The plants all know that spring will soon return,
All kinds of red and purple contend in beauty.
The poplar blossom and elm seeds are not beautiful,
They can only fill the sky with flight like snow.

Sunday, June 8, 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.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Li Qingzhao (1084-1151)

The migrant songbird on the bough wet with dew
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 ...

Friday, June 6, 2014

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.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wei Ying-wu (737-792)

Alone at Night at My Monastic Residence: To Secretary Ts’u
The recluse is in bed but not asleep
leaves are falling in flurries
a cold rain makes the late night darker
fireflies are gone from the tower
the blue flames of dawn are no help
I still suffer from a thin summer robe
I didn’t realize the year was so lateor living apart was so lonely

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Li Ching Chao (1084-1151)

A Morning Dream

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.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Chia Tao (779-843)

Seeing Off Spring on the Last Day of April
When April reaches its thirtieth day
your wind and light forsake a poor poet
I don’t want to sleep with you tonight
until the dawn bell you’re still spring

Monday, June 2, 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 :

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Li Qi (690-751)

An Old War Song - Li Qi;

Through the bright day up the mountain, we scan the sky for a war-torch;
At yellow dusk we water our horses in the boundaryriver;
And when the throb of watch-drums hangs in the sandy wind,
We hear the guitar of the Chinese Princess telling her endless woe....
Three thousand miles without a town, nothing but camps,
Till the heavy sky joins the wide desert in snow.
With their plaintive calls, barbarian wildgeese fly from night to night,
And children of the Tartars have many tears to shed;
But we hear that the Jade Pass is still under siege,
And soon we stake our lives upon our light warchariots.
Each year we bury in the desert bones unnumbered,
Yet we only watch for grape-vines coming into China.