Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chia Tao (779-843)

Overnight at a Mountain Temple
Flock of peaks hunched up
and colored cold.  The path forks
here, toward the temple.
A falling star flares behind bare trees,
and the moon breasts the current of the clouds.
Few men come; to the very top..
one tall pine won’t hold a flock of cranes.
One monk here, at eighty,
has never heard tell
of the “world” down below.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Meng Haoran (691-740)


On a northern peak among white clouds
You have found your hermitage of peace;
And now, as I climb this mountain to see you,
High with the wildgeese flies my heart.
The quiet dusk might seem a little sad
If this autumn weather were not so brisk and clear;
I look down at the river bank, with homeward-bound villagers
Resting on the sand till the ferry returns;
There are trees at the horizon like a row of grasses
And against the river's rim an island like the moon
I hope that you will come and meet me, bringing a basket of wine --
And we'll celebrate together the Mountain Holiday.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yau Ywe-Hwa (Tang Dynasty)

Still He Does Not Come
by Yau Ywe-Hwa (T'ang Dynasty)

I have been here a long time,
With silver candles
And sparkling wine,
Walking up to the gate
And back again,
Watching for him
Till it's nearly daylight.

Now the moon has set,
The stars are few,
And still he does not come.

Suddenly wingbeats drum
In the misty willows;
A magpie flies off.

In China the magpie is associated with happiness. In this case the happiness of the poetess is flying away.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Saigyo Hoshi (118-1190)

Having Seen Them Long

Having seen them long,
I hold the flowers so dear
That when they scatter
I find it all the more sad
To bid them my last farewell.
Saigyo :

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Li Bai (701-762)


Down the blue mountain in the evening,
Moonlight was my homeward escort.
Looking back, I saw my path
Lie in levels of deep shadow....
I was passing the farm-house of a friend,
When his children called from a gate of thorn
And led me twining through jade bamboos
Where green vines caught and held my clothes.
And I was glad of a chance to rest
And glad of a chance to drink with my friend....
We sang to the tune of the wind in the pines;
And we finished our songs as the stars went down,
When, I being drunk and my friend more than happy,
Between us we forgot the world.

Saturday, July 26, 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.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Chia Tao (779-843)

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."

Thursday, July 24, 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.

Wednesday, July 23, 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.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Feng Yan Si (903-960)

Feelings of Melancholy
Tune: “Que Ta Zhi”
Feng Yan Si
tr. E. C. Chang

Who says that pop-up feelings
can be discarded for long?
When spring comes, my
melancholy remains strong.
I often drown myself with wine
In front of the flowers every day.
I care little that the image in the
mirror shows a thinner face.

So green is the grass by the riverside.
Willows on the bank look so nice.
Why then year after year,
new sorrow always comes along?
Standing alone by the little bridge,
I feel as though the wind fills my sleeves.
After everybody has gone home,
I see over the wooded plain the crescent moon.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Shih Ching (1775-1844)

Collecting Kudzu Vine
He went away to collect kudzu vine.
One day’s absence
is as long as three months.
He went away to collect wormwood.
One day’s absence
is as long as three seasons.
He went away to collect moxa.
One day’s absence
is as long as three years.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Zhang Jiuling (673-740)

Here, south of the Yangzi, grows a red orangetree.
All winter long its leaves are green,
Not because of a warmer soil,
But because its' nature is used to the cold.
Though it might serve your honourable guests,
You leave it here, far below mountain and river.
Circumstance governs destiny.
Cause and effect are an infinite cycle.
You plant your peach-trees and your plums,
You forget the shade from this other tree.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831)

Our life in this world -
to what shall I compare it?
Its like an echo
resounding through the mountains
and off into the empty sky.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Meng Chiao (751-814)

Wanderer’s Song
The thread in the hand of a kind mother
Is the coat on the wanderer’s back.
Before he left she stitched it close
In secret fear that he would be slow to return.
Who will say that the inch of grass in his heart
Is gratitude enough for all the sunshine of spring?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Saigyo Hoshi (1118-1190)

There's not a trace of cloud

There's not a trace of cloud
Now-and she
Is in my thoughts;
The moon and my heart
Seem to waver.
Saigyo :

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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 :

Tuesday, July 15, 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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hsu Yun (1840-1959)

Mirror Pond on Mount Taibo in Shanxi
The water and my mind have both settled down
Into perfect stillness.
Sun and moon shine bright in it.
At night I see in the surface
The enormous face of my old familiar moon.
I don't think you've ever met the source of this reflection.
All shrillness fades into the sound of silence.
But now and then a puff of mist floats across the mirror.
It confuses me a little
But not enough to make me forget to forget my cares.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Meng Chiao (751-814)


THREAD from the hands of a doting mother
Worked into the clothes of a far-off journeying son.
Before his departure, were the close, fine stitches set,
Lest haply his return be long delayed.
The heart – the inch-long grass –
Who will contend that either can repay
The gentle brightness of the Third Month of Spring.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Meng Jiao (751-814)

A Traveller’s Song
By Meng Jiao

The thread in the hands of a fond-hearted mother
Makes clothes for the body of her wayward boy;
Carefully she sews and thoroughly she mends,
Dreading the delays that will keep him late from home.
But how much love has the inch-long grass
For three spring months of the light of the sun?

It is one of the most famous Classical Chinese poems. The poem was written when Meng was working in Liyang at his 50, Jiangsu Province, as a county official. He welcomed his mother’s visit to Liyang. This poem expresses a mother’s sincere love for her children which is widely spread from generation to generation. Almost every Chinese knows this poem. The last two verses are now a common metaphor of motherly love.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Vegetable Root Discourse

A crane may seem superior among chickens,   but it will be dwarfed by the Great Peng bird over the ocean.   It is further miniaturized by the Phoenix surfing high in the unreachable space.   So a superior person always tries to be humble and empty.   The most cultivated usually refrains from being snobbish and aggressive.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Han Yu (768-824)

A Pond in a Jardiniere
Old men are like little boys:
I draw water, fill the jardiniere to make a tiny pond.
All night green frogs gabble till dawn,
just like the time I went fishing at Fang-k’ou.
My ceramic lake in dawn, water settled clear,
numberless tiny bugs -I don’t know what you call them;
suddenly they dart and scatter, not a shadow left;
only a squadron of baby fish advancing.
Pond shine and sky glow, blue matching blue;
a few bucketfulls of water poured is all that laps these shores.
I`ll wait until the night is cold, the bright moon set,
then count how many stars come swimming here,

Wednesday, July 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

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

T'ao Ch'ien (365-427)

    Ninth Day, Ninth Month
        Slowly autumn comes to an end.
Painfully cold a dawn wind thicks the dew.
Grass round here will not be green again,
Trees and leaves are already suffering.
The clear air is drained and purified
And the high white sky’s a mystery.
Nothing’s left of the cicada’s sound.
Flying geese break the heavens’ silence.
The Myriad Creatures rise and return.
How can life and death not be hard?
From the beginning all things have to die.
Thinking of it can bruise the heart.
What can I do to lighten my thoughts?
Solace myself drinking the last of this wine.
Who understands the next thousand years?
Let’s just make this morning last forever.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Saigyo Hoshi (1118-1190)

There's not a trace of cloud

There's not a trace of cloud
Now-and she
Is in my thoughts;
The moon and my heart
Seem to waver.
Saigyo :

Sunday, July 6, 2014

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?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Yang Wanli (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 :

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lao Tzu (604BC-531BC)

“At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.”
- Lao Tzu

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

After they die

Why are people called Buddhas
After they die?
Because they don't grumble any more,
Because they don't make a nuisance
Of themselves any more.
Ikkyu Sojun :

Wednesday, July 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.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nalan Xingde (1655-1685)

The mountain, a march;
The river, a march;
The the uplands and over the Yu Kuan Pass I go.
Countless lamps in the tented darkness glow.

A night-watch of wind,
A night-watch of snow -
And a clamor that shatters my sleepless home-sick heart.
I know a garden where it is not so.