poem by Han Shan

Man lives his life in a dust bowl,
Just like vermin in the middle of the pot:
All day going round and round,
Never getting out from the inside.
Blessedness is not our lot:
Only nettlesomeness without end.
Time is like a flowing river—
One day, we wake up old men.

translated by Eugene Eoyang

from Han-shan 5

Last night I dreamt I went home
and saw my wife at her loom
she stopped the shuttle as if in thought
then raised it as if without strength
I called and she turned to look
she looked but didn’t know me
I guess we’d been apart too many years
and my temples weren’t their old color

translated by Red Pine

from Han-shan 4

Painted beams aren’t for me
the forest is my home
a lifetime suddenly passes by
don’t think your cares will wait
those who build no raft to cross
drown while gathering flowers
unless you plant good roots today
you’ll never see a bud

translated by Red Pine

from Han-shan 2

Men these days search for a way through the clouds,
But the cloud way is dark and without sign.
The mountains are high and often steep and rocky;
In the broadest valleys the sun seldom shines.
Green crests before you and behind,
White clouds to east and west–
Do you want to know where the cloud way lies?
There it is, in the midst of the Void!

translated by Burton Watson

from Han-shan

A man lives on rose-colored clouds
shunned the usual haunts for a home
every season is equally dead
summer is just like fall
a dark stream always babbles
a towering pine wind sighs
sitting here less than one day
he forgets a whole lifetime of sorrow

translated by Red Pine