again, Han Shan

Story on story of wonderful hills and streams,
Their blue-green haze locked in clouds!
Mists brush my thin cap with moisture,
Dew wets my coat of plaited straw.
On my feet I wear pilgrim’s sandals,
My hand holds a stick of old rattan.
Though I look down again on the dusty world,
What is that land of dreams to me?

translated by Burton Watson

and one more from Han Shan

Living in the mountains, mind ill at ease,
All I do is grieve at the passing years.
At great labor I gathered the herbs of long life,
But has all my striving made me an immortal?
Broad is my garden and wrapped now in clouds,
But the woods are bright and the moon is full.
What am I doing here? Why don’t I go home?
I am bound by the spell of the cinnamon trees!

translated by Burton Watson

another one from Han Shan

Cold cliffs, more beautiful the deeper you enter–
Yet no one travels this road.
White clouds idle about the tall crags;
On the green peak a single monkey wails.
What other companions do I need?
I grow old doing as I please.
Though face and form alter with the years,
I hold fast to the pearl of the mind.

translated by Burton Watson

another poem from Cold Mountain by Han Shan

You have seen the blossoms among the leaves;
Tell me, how long will they stay?
Today they tremble before the hand that picks them;
Tomorrow they wait someone’s garden broom.
Wonderful is the bright heart of youth,
But with years it grows old.
Is the world not like these flowers?
Ruddy faces, how can they last?

translated Β by Burton Watson

Remembering by Yuan Mei

The years, their months
turn, grave and slow, their
fall and spring, again.

Mountain flowers, mountain leaves and
each time’s new.

Sometimes I sit alone
and smile upon the child I was,

in memory now distant
and a friend.

translated by J.P. Seaton

from Not Bowing to Old Age by Kuan Han-ch’ing

You can knock out my teeth and break my jaw.
You can cripple my legs and rip off my arms:
let heaven lay all these curses on me,
and I still won’t stop.
Except old Yama, the king of Hell
comes to call on me himself (and brings his fiends to fetch me),
when my soul turns to dirt,
and my animal shell falls straight into Hell,
then, and only then, I’ll quit this flowered path
I ramble on.

translated by J.P. Seaton

The Sharks by Denise Levertov

Well, then, the last day the sharks appeared.
Dark fins appear, innocent
as if in fair warning. The sea becomes
sinister, are they everywhere?
I tell you, they break six feet of water.
Isn’t it the same sea, and won’t we
play in it any more?
I liked it clear and not
too calm, enough waves
to fly in on. For the first time
I dared to swim out of my depth.
It was sundown when they came, the time
when a sheen of copper stills the sea,
not dark enough for moonlight, clear enough
to see them easily. Dark
the sharp lift of the fins.