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The Journey to the West

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Three Gems from Han Shan

Every so often I return to read and translate a few poems by Han Shan - the recluse of Cold Mountain.  Frankly this serves as a bit of a shortcut for me; it provides a vicarious way for me to partake of the fruits of meditative seclusion without leaving the comforts of home.  Perhaps this is exactly as it should be - Han Shan the poet serves as a stand-in for Han Shan the mountain.  And just as Han Shan the mountain inspired a hermit's original poetry, so the poetry of the hermit can still inspire us today.

Here are translations of three Songs from Cold Mountain.






It’s funny how
Cold Mountain path
Proceeds along
Without a trace of
Horses and carts

As the streams
Run together
It’s hard to remember
Each twist and turn
That brought you here
And the layers of peaks
That loom in the distance
Unknowable

The dew weeps
Upon a thousand
Blades of grass
And the wind moans
With the pines as one

 At the moment when 
The path seems to disappear
Shape turns to ask shadow
From whence it has come  


 可笑寒山道
而无车马

谿难记
叠嶂不知重


泣露千般草


迷径
影何从



* * * * *


The sages ignore me
I ignore fools as well
Being neither foolish nor wise
But refraining from all
Such mutual name-calling

I sing to the bright moon at nightfall
And dance with the white clouds at daybreak
I strive to hold my hands in an open mudra
Sitting upright with all the uncountable
Hairs on my head



智者君抛我
愚者我抛君
非愚亦非智
从此断相闻

入夜歌明月
 侵晨舞白云
 焉能拱口手
 端坐鬓纷纷

*  *  *  *  *

My heart shines
Like the harvest moon
A deep pool of clear light
Nothing else has such clarity
For teaching me what to say


吾心似秋月
碧潭清皎洁
无物堪比
教我如何




Photo by Lawrence Hudetz

Apologies to those of you who are purists when it comes to mixing east and west but the beautiful photo above is not of Cold Mountain in China but of a very chilly looking Mt. Hood in Oregon.  However, it is the same moon that shined down on Han Shan, at least as far as I'm aware.   





1 comment:

  1. todays morning reading. always a pleasure. thank you

    ReplyDelete