Han Shan tells why he came to Cold Mountain

Thirty years ago I was born into the world.
A thousand, ten thousand miles I’ve roamed.
By rivers where the green grass lies thick,
Beyond the border where the red sands fly.
I brewed potions in a vain search for life everlasting,
I read books, I sang songs of history,
And today I’ve come home to Cold Mountain
To pillow my head on the stream and wash my ears.

translated by Burton Watson

Han Shan speaks again

When I see a fellow abusing others,
I think of a man with a basketful of water.
As fast as he can, he runs with it home,
But when he gets there, what’s left in the basket?
When I see a man being abused by others,
I think of the leek growing in the garden.
Day after day men pull off the leaves,
But the heart it was born with stays the same.

translated by Burton Watson

Han Shan again

As long as I was living in the village
They said I was the finest man around.
But yesterday I went to the city
And even the dogs eyed me askance.
Some people jeered at my skimpy trousers,
Others said my jacket was too long.
If someone would poke out the eyes of the hawks
We sparrows could dance wherever we pleased.

translated by Burton Watson

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  by Burton Watson

Autumn Thoughts: 1 by Meng Chiao

1

Lonely bones can’t sleep nights. Singing
insects keep calling them, calling them.

And the old have no tears. When they sob,
autumn weeps dewdrops. Strength failing

all at once, as if cut loose, and ravages
everywhere, like weaving unraveled,

I touch thread-ends. No new feelings.
Memories crowding thickening sorrow,

how could I bear southbound sails, how
wander rivers and mountains of the past?

translated by David Hinton