drinking tea past midnight

it’s tea now
in those late night hours
moving slowly toward dawn
to ease the mind
not numb it
with whiskey
a peace sought
much needed
these days months years
as the clock ticks
toward the hour it stops
and whatever awaits
is finally here

Grasses Bury the River Bank by Su Tung-p’o

Grasses bury the river bank, rain darkens the village;
the temple is lost in tall bamboo–I can’t find the gate.
They’re gathering wood and brewing herbs–I’m sorry a monk is sick;
they’ve swept the ground and burned incense–it cleans my spirit.
Farm work not finished, though we’re into Little Snow;
lamps lit before the Buddha, signal of dusk–
lately I’ve developed a taste for the quiet life.
I think how we could lie and talk together through the night.

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

Everyday by Li Shang-yin

Everyday the light of spring competes with the light of the sun.
In the hilly town, by the slanting road, the apricot flowers are sweet.
When will my train of thought be free from all cares
And follow the floating gossamer a hundred feet long?

translated by James J.Y. Liu

At Wang Ch’ang-ling’s Retreat by Ch’ang Chien

Here, beside a clear deep lake,
You live accompanied by clouds;
Or soft through the pine the moon arrives
To be your own pure-hearted friend.
You rest under thatch in the shadow of your flowers,
Your dewy herbs flourish in their bed of moss.
Let me leave the world. Let me alight, like you,
On your western mountain with phoenixes and cranes.

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu