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Monday, October 10, 2011

A Song of Lu Moutain

Here is a translation of one of Li Bai's spirit poems. The Madman of Chu appears briefly in the Analects and chides Confucius for thinking he can or should meddle in affairs of state.

A Song of Lu Mountain

I am the madman of Chu
Who sang for Confucius
And laughed at him too
All the while
In both my hands
A precious jade staff
Tightly I clasped

To Yellow Crane Tower
At dawn I departed
Onto the Five Sacred Peaks
Searching for Immortals
Far and wide

For an entire lifetime
Across Ming Shan
I have wandered there
Then across Lu Shan
Where I approached the Big Dipper
Through the nine screens
Traversing through clouds
Like wind through
A brocade clothe

Out of the shadows
And into brightness
I found a crystal clear lake
Its surface shimmering with
Dazzling colorful rays
And the gates of golden watchtower
Opened silently before me
Revealing in the distance
Two more enormous peaks

Down a winding path I strolled
Where there flowed a silvery stream
Under three stone bridges
It passed and then tumbled
Down a sheer precipice
In a misty waterfall
Obscure in thick with a
Blue green haze

While on the skyline
Clouds glowed persimmon
Herald of the morning sun
And birds beat their wings
In endless flight on their way
To the state of Wu

Ascending these heights
What great vistas have I seen
Of Heaven and Earth
As well as places in between
A river that flows apart from
Space and time
Measureless and vast
Filled with whitecaps
Flowing fast
Yellow clouds
Propelled ten thousand miles
By the relentless wind
Towards nine distant
Snowcapped peaks

This is the song
Of Lu Shan
The spirit that
The mountain speaks
At leisure I gaze
At her rocky crags
As into a mirror
More clearly
It’s my own heart
I glimpse

Down pathways
Long overgrown
Moss everywhere
A thick dark green
Taking an extra dose
Of cinnabar tablets
Beyond this world
The heart stirs
Like a zither
Strummed three times
It trills from
First to last

And far in the distance
See the Immortals assembling
Filled with roseate inner light
In their hands they hold
Hibiscus blossoms
To present the Jade Emperor
In the Imperial Court

Before crossing the void
Nine levels ascending
At last arriving
At the truth of Lu
Approaching utter clarity
Though the work continues
Onward still

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