Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kenkichi Nakamura

Under the plane trees 
young women are passing by, 
upon their eyelids 
is a color tinged with blood. 
Summer has surely arrived.
My eyes watching, 
I too become desolate 
toward nightfall 
from the harvested rice field 
seeing stray grains being gathered. 
On a mountain top 
in springtime coldness 
priests keep going back and forth 
in black robes that are bulging 
and mufflers that are white.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

I would sleep,
borrowing the sleeve of the scarecrow.
Midnight frost.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wang Wei (701-761)

Autumn Evening in a Mountain Retreat

After the rain,
the empty mountain
at dusk
is full of autumn air.
A bright moon
shines between the pines;
The clear spring water
glides over the rocks.
Bamboo leaves rustling –
the washer-girls bound home.
Water lilies swaying –
a fisher-boat goes down.
Never mind that
spring plants are no longer green.
I am here to stay
my noble friends!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Emperor Sanjo (975-1017) Ogura Hyakunin Isshu

Emperor Sanjo Though I do not want
To live on in this floating world,
If I remain here,
Let me remember only
This midnight and this moonrise.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Caigentan (Ts'ai-ken T'an)

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.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Huang O (1498-1569)

 To the tune “The Fall of a Little Wild Goose”
by Huang O

Once upon a time I was
Beautiful and seductive,
Wavering to and fro in
Our orchid-scented bedroom.
You and I together tangled
In our incense-filled gauze
Bed curtains. I trembled,
Held in your hands. You carried
Me in your heart wherever
You went. Suddenly
A bullet struck down the female
Mandarin duck. The music
Of the jade zither was forgotten.
The phoenixes were driven apart.

I sit alone in a room
Filled with Spring, and you are off,
Making love with someone else,
Happy as two fish in the water.

That insufferable little bitch
With her coy tricks!
She’d better not forget —
This old witch can still
Make a furious scene!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ki no Tsurayuki (872-945)

Alone for you Autumn

Alone for you Autumn
Has not come,
So why do you colour
So swiftly, then fade?
Ki no Tsurayuki :

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tu Mu (803-852)

Autumn Dream

Frosty skies open empty depths of wind.
Moonlight floods fulling-stones clarities.
As the dream ends, I am dying at night:
I am beside a beautiful woman, thoughts
deepening–a leaf trees shed in the dark,
a lone goose leaving borderlands behind.
Then I’m in travel clothes, setting out,
heart and mind all distances beyond sky.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Ainu songs are sad: like this deep blue crater lake with fog cascading -

Nobuyuki Yuasa

Friday, October 17, 2014

Du Fu (712-770)

In Abbot Zan's Room at Dayun Temple: Four Poems (4)
Du Fu

The boy draws shining water from the well,
He nimbly lifts the bucket to his hand.
He sprinkles water without soaking the earth,
And sweeps so well as if no broom had passed.
The rosy dawn again lights the pagoda,
The clearing mist lifts from the higher windows.
Leaning blossoms cover over the path,
Dancing willow leaves reach down to the steps.
I'm driven by these troublesome affairs,
Retirement from the world must be put off.
We've met and talked, our deepest hearts agreeing,
How can our mouths be forced completely shut?
I say goodbye and fetch my riding crop,
Parting for now, I turn my head at the last.
There's so much mud that can defile a man,
Just listen to all the dogs throughout the land.
Although I cannot get free from this yoke,
I'll sometimes come to rest from all the bustle.
Your presence, Abbot, acts just like white snow,
How can I be upset to grasp what's hot?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hsu Yun (1840-1959 aged 119)

Clouds and Mist (a rare sight) on the Gansu Road
Cold smoke lingers like fog around a single lit house.
Like a lonely star the house rises up out of the cloud.
The ground is red like the inside of a fish's cheeks.
The mountains dark blue like a spiral conch's flared headdress.
Around half the pond grow poet Tao Qian's willows
And every ten miles stands one of Lord Xie Lingyun's pavilions.
To say Hello and Goodbye to such congenial and famous guests
Takes my breath away! Gives me a heady feeling
That's pretty hard to match.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lu Lun (739-799)

Lu Lun
A Farewell to Li Duan

By my old gate, among yellow grasses,
Still we linger, sick at heart.
The way you must follow through cold clouds
Will lead you this evening into snow.
Your father died; you left home young;
Nobody knew of your misfortunes.
We cry, we say nothing. What can I wish you,
In this blowing wintry world?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seng Ts'an (c.580)

Inscribed on the Believing Mind

To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult,
but those with limited views
are fearful and irresolute;
the faster they hurry, the slower they go,
and clinging cannot be limited;
even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way,
and there will be neither coming nor going.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wang Wei (701-761)

Random Poem
Wang Wei

You also come from my home town,
You must know all the home town news.
At dawn, before the silken window,
Is it too cold for plum blossom to show?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

A Meal of Fresh Octopus

Lots of arms, just like Kannon the Goddess;
Sacrificed for me, garnished with citron, I revere it so!
The taste of the sea, just divine!
Sorry, Buddha, this is another precept I just cannot keep.
Ikkyu Sojun :

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Li Po (701-762)

Down from the Mountain

As down Mount Emerald at eve I came,
The mountain moon went all the way with me.
Backward I looked, to see the heights aflame
With a pale light that glimmered eerily.

A little lad undid the rustic latch
As hand in hand your cottage we did gain,
Where green limp tendrils at our cloaks did catch,
And dim bamboos o'erhung a shadowy lane.

Gaily I cried, "Here may we rest our fill!"
Then choicest wines we quaffed; and cheerily
"The Wind among the Pines" we sang, until
A few faint stars hung in the Galaxy.

Merry were you, my friend: and drunk was I,
Blissfully letting all the world go by.
Li Po :

Friday, October 10, 2014

Seng-Ts'an (c.580)

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood
the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Luo Binwang (640-684)

Ode to the Goose
Luo Binwang

Goose, goose, goose,
You bend your neck towards the sky and sing.
Your white feathers float on the emerald water,
Your red feet push the clear waves.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ts'ai-ken T'an

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.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mikiko Nakagawa (b1897)

In the darkened fields 
the very faintly burning 
lights of the houses— 
ah, they are more frail even 
than the glowing of fireflies.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Song Lian (1310-1381)

Song of Yue
                            transl. from Chinese by Qiu Xialong

It is not just a day or night that I have
missed you, Lord.
It is like a broken pair
of Bingzhou scissors –
one blade is far in the south, and the other,
far in the north.
When can the pair
be joined to cut out a wedding gown?

                                                    Song Lian 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tzu Yeh (4th cent.)

 Tzu Yeh (a Chinese poetess of the Chin Dynasty)
five short poems translated by Arthur Waley

I will carry my coat and not put on my belt;
With unpainted eyebrows I will stand at the front window.
My tiresome petticoat keeps on flapping about;
If it opens a little, I shall blame the spring wind.

I heard my love was going to Yang-chou
And went with him as far as Ch’u-shan.
For a moment when you held me fast in your outstretched arms
I thought the river stood still and did not flow.

Longing, I watch out the open window,
my sash untied, long sleeves dragging.
This breeze lifts gauze so easily,
if my skirt should open, blame the warm spring wind.

Winter skies are cold and low,
with harsh winds and freezing sleet.
But when we make love beneath our quilt,
we make three summer months of heat.

When she approached you on the street,
you couldn't possibly say no.
But your neglect of me is nothing new.
Hinges soon sag on an empty door:
it won't fit snug like it did before.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Han Yu (768-824)

Thoughts in the Cold

You are gone. The river is high at my door.
Cicadas are mute on dew-laden boughs.
This is a moment when thoughts enter deep.
I stand alone for a long while.
...The North Star is nearer to me now than spring,
And couriers from your southland never arrive
Yet I doubt my dream on the far horizon
That you have found another friend.
Han Yu :

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Li Ching Chao (1084-1151)

Tz'u No. 6 (Waiting For You)

To the tune of "Red Lips"

Lonely in my secluded chamber,
A thousand sorrows fill every inch
of my sensitive being.

Regretting that spring has so soon passed,
That rain drops have hastened the falling followers,
I lean over the balustrade,
Weary and depressed.

Where is my beloved?

Only the fading grassland
stretches endlessly toward the horizon;
Anxiously I watch the road for your return.
Li Ching Chao :