Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

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.