Thoughts Sent on My Way Home from River-Serene, After Stopping to Gaze at Samadhi-Forest Monastery by Wang An-shih

My lame donkey hates the stony road
up there, and I’m done with big climbs.

It seems forever since I saw you, my old
monk friend. Our youth suddenly gone,

I keep following morning clouds away,
then race evening birds back into this

valley of pines all shadowed dark. Here,
I know you in the distances between us.

translated by David Hinton

from To Dispel the Cold: Two Poems on Spring: I: Small Pavilion by Hung Liang-chi

Where is the first sign of spring?
Spring comes earliest to a small pavilion:
Upon the shadow of a bamboo blind in the moonlight,
In the tender notes from a flute in the breeze,
In the greening of a branch breaking out at the tip,
In the drippings of a candle of red passion.
In the whispered words overheard past midnight,
In the scented breath wafted beyond the wall.

translated by Irving Lo

Mad Words by Yüan Mei

To learn to be without desire, you must desire that;
Better to do as you please: sing idleness:
Floating clouds and water running—where’s their source?
In all the vastness of the sea and sky, you’ll never find it.

translated by J.P. Seaton

from On Poetry: III by Chao Yi

The best of poetry comes from the destitute, but my pocket is not yet empty;
I gather, it’s all because I haven’t perfected my skill as a poet.
Having fish to eat or bear’s paw? I admit, I’m greedy for both;
I yearn for skill in poetry, yet how I dread being poor!

translated by Irving Lo