Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bai Juyi (772-846)

Regret for Peony Flowers
Bai Juyi

I'm saddened by the peonies before the steps, so red,
As evening came I found that only two remained.
Once morning's winds have blown, they surely won't survive,
At night I gaze by lamplight, to cherish the fading red.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Seng T'san's Hsin Hsin Ming (6th cent.)

The Great Way is not difficult
for those not attached to preferences.
When neither love nor hate arises,
all is clear and undisguised.
Separate by the smallest amount, however,
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth.

If you wish to know the truth,
then hold to no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.

When the fundamental nature of things is not recognized
the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The Way is perfect as vast space is perfect,
where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.

Indeed, it is due to our grasping and rejecting
that we do not know the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in ideas or feelings of emptiness.
Be serene and at one with things
and erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chiu Chin (1879-1907)

A Letter To Lady T’ao Ch’iu
by Ch’iu Chin (1879?-1907)

Alone with my shadow,
I confide secrets to her
And draw strange symbols in the air,
like Yin Hao.
It is not sickness, nor wine,
Nor sorrow for the departed,
Like Li Ch’ing-Chao,
that cause an empire of broken-hearted
anxieties to arise in my heart.
There is no one I can confide in here;
Who can understand me?
My hopes and dreams are greater
Than those of the men who surround me,
But the chance of our survival grows less and less.
What good is a hero's heart
Inside this feminine dress?
My fate proceeds according to some perilous plan.
I ask Heaven:
Did the heroines of the past
Perish like this?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Liu Changqing (709-785)

Liu Changqing

While Visiting on the South Stream the Taoist Priest Chang
Walking along a little path,
I find a footprint on the moss,
A while cloud low on the quiet lake,
Grasses that sweeten an idle door,
A pine grown greener with the rain,
A brook that comes from a mountain source –
And, mingling with Truth among the flowers,
I have forgotten what to say.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Wang Wei (699-759)

Note: The uncarved rock is the Tao. The endless stream is the Tao.

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).

Friday, September 25, 2015

Wang Ji (Tang)


by Wang Ji

Fill up day the sorrow-drugging bowl!
What matter though we dromn the brighter soul?
With wine o`ercome when all our fellows be,
Can I alone sit in sobriety?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Folk Songs from Northern Dynasties (386-581)

Tchirek Song*

Tchirek River
Lies under the Dark Mountains:
Where the sky is like the sides of a tent
Stretched down over the Great Steppe.
The sky is gray, gray:
And the steppe wide, wide:
Over grass that the wind has battered low
Sheep and oxen roam.

* This song is actually a popular folk song from one of the Tartar tribes residing in northern China at the time. It was first translated into another Tartar language, and then brought into China by a Tartar from that tribe. The Chinese version conforms perfectly to the poetic tradition of China.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hsieh Ling-yun (385-433)

Dwelling in the Mountains #18
Slipping from gardens to fields
and from fields on toward lakes,
I float and drift on and on along
rivers to realms of distant water,
sage pools in mountain streams deepening into recluse dark
and hazy confusions of wild rice clearing away along islands.
Fragrant springwater swells into springtime cascades here,
and chilled waves quicken amid autumn’s passing clarity.
Wind churning up lakewater around islands full of orchids,
sunlight pours through pepper trees and on across the road,
and soaring lazily over the mid-stream island,
the pavillion there soaked in its luster, the moon in water is a perfect joy.
Lingering out shadows, mornings infuse things with clarity,
and suffusing the air, fragrant scents settle into evenings
here, where thinking of loved ones lost to me forever now,
I can look forward to the evanescent visits of cloud guests.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Han Dong (b.1961)

Now I'm back, back in Nanjing
Getting on with a middling kind of life
Between sun and ice, I inhabit
The cold shadows of my room
Occasionally visiting a nightclub
That warm cave
Where I am far from eternity or a moment of excitement
I'm like any commonplace and painful existence
That's all I am

Monday, September 21, 2015

Tu Mu (803-852)

Entering Shangshan
Du Mu

I enter Shangshan early, under a hundred miles of cloud,
Beneath the bridge a blue stream, the sound of the water divided.
The flowing water's old sound reaches the ears of the old,
This time I cannot bear to listen to its call.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

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

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Li Shangyin (813-858)

Sent North on a Rainy Night
Li Shangyin

You ask me what time I'll return, but I cannot give a time,
The rain in the hills of Ba at night overflows the autumn pools.
When can we trim the candle together by the western window,
And talk together of the rain in the hills of Ba at night?

Friday, September 18, 2015

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,

Thursday, September 17, 2015

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?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wei Ying-wu (737-791)

On Leave and Watching the Rain: To My Colleagues in the County Government
With feet like Ch’ueh K’o’s I get nothing but laughs
unemployed now I dream of Tuling
The last oriole knows little of summer
but a festival rain foretells a good harvest
my grain isn’t gone because I wasn’t looking
compiling records was something I couldn’t do
of course I worry about quitting my post
I’d better stop here and thank my friends

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Meng Jiao (751-814)

A Poem By A Leaving Son— by Meng Jiao
慈 母 手 中 线,
游 子 身 上 衣。
临 行 密 密 缝,
意 恐 迟 迟 归。
谁 言 寸 草 心,
报 得 三 春 晖。
A Traveller’s Song
By Meng Jiao
Translated by Liu Jianxun

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?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hu Shih (1891-1962)

Dream and Poetry

It's all ordinary experience,
All ordinary images.
By chance they emerge in a dream,
Turning out infinite new patterns.

It's all ordinary feelings,
All ordinary words.
By chance they encounter a poet,
Turning out infinite new verses.

Once intoxicated, one learns the strength of wine,
Once smitten, one learns the power of love:
You cannot write my poems
Just as I cannot dream your dreams. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Du Fu (712-770)

Qiang Village
Du Fu

I'm late in years, and only marking time,
Returning home, I find but little joy.
My darling son now will not leave my knee,
He's scared that I will go away again.
I remember when we used to seek the coolth,
And wound between the trees beside the pool.
The soughing and sighing of the north wind's strong,
I'm thinking of a hundred different worries.
At least I know the millet harvest's good,
Already I hear the grain press trickle.
For now I have enough to pour and drink,
I use it to get comfort near the end.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Feng Gan (fl.9th cent.)

Poem After Hui Neng the Sixth Patriarch
Actually there isn't a thing
much less any dust to wipe away
who can master this
doesn't need to sit there stiff
         Show me the person who doesn't die;
death remains impartial.
I recall a towering man
who is now a pile of dust-
the World Below knows no dawn
plants enjoy another spring
but those who visit this sorrowful place
the pine wind slays with grief.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Wang Wei (699-761)

Poem of Farewell

Morning rain on Wei’s city
Falls in the soft dust.
Green. The courtyard willows.
Green leaves. The newest.
But you must drink deeper.
Again, one more cup?
Out west where you go
What friendship there?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bai Ju Yi (772-846)

An early cricket chirps,
then pauses;
the dying lamp gutters
then flares again.

Outside my window
I know it is raining--
the leaves of the banana
first know its drumming.
      Translated by
      David Lunde

      Spring Sleep

      Pillow low quilt warm body smooth and steady
      Sunshine room door cloth not open
      Still have young spring air taste
      Often brief arrive sleep at come
      The pillow's low, the quilt is warm, the body smooth and peaceful,
      Sun shines on the door of the room, the curtain not yet open.
      Still the youthful taste of spring remains in the air,
      Often it will come to you even in your sleep.
      Bai Juyi :

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Yang Wanli (1127-1206)

Reading By The Window

I idly open a book of T'ang poems
and find a petal of peach blossom, still fresh.
I remember taking this book with me
to read among the flowers
and realize that another year has passed.
Yang Wanli :

Saturday, September 5, 2015

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.

Han Shan (c730-c850)


Cold Mountain’s full of strange sights
Men who go there end by being scared.
Water glints and gleams in the moon,
Grasses sigh and sing in the wind.
The bare plum blooms again with snow,
Naked branches have clouds for leaves.
When it rains, the mountain shines –
In bad weather you’ll not make this climb.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lao Tzu (6th cent.BC)

Exhibit the unadorned.
Hold fast to the uncarved block.
Avoid the thought of Self.
Eliminate desire.
'The Tao Te Ching XIX'

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831)

Down In The Village

Down in the village
the din of
flute and drum,
here deep in the mountain
everywhere the sound of the pines.
Taigu Ryokan :

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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 :

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Li Bai (701-762)

Reaching The Hermitage

At evening I make it down the mountain.
Keeping company with the moon.
Looking back I see the paths I’ve taken
Blue now, blue beneath the skyline.
You greet me, show the hidden track,
Where children pull back hawthorn curtains,
Reveal green bamboo, the secret path,
Vines that touch the traveller’s clothes.
I love finding space to rest,
Clear wine to enjoy with you.
Wind in the pines till voices stop,
Songs till the Ocean of Heaven pales.
I get drunk and you are happy,
Both of us pleased to forget the world.
Li Po :