Written in the Mountains by Kuan Hsiu

A mountain’s palace
for all things crystalline and pure;
there’s not a speck of dust
on a single one of these flowers.
When we start chanting like madmen
it sets all the peaks to dancing.
And once we’ve put the brush to work
even the sky becomes mere ornament.
For you and me the joy’s in the doing
and I’m damned if I care about “talent.”

But if, my friend, from time to time
you hear sounds like ghostly laughter. . .
It’s all the great mad poets, dead,
and just dropping in for a listen.

translated by J.P. Seaton