Han Shan Te-ch'ing
Mountain Living: Twenty Poems
down beneath the pines
a few thatched huts
before my eyes
everywhere blue mountains
and where the sun and moon
restless rise and fall
this old white cloud
idly comes and goes
when plum petals among the snows
first spring free
from the ends of night
a dark fragrance flies
to the cold lantern
where I sit alone
and suddenly storms
my nostrils wide

through a few splinters of
white cloud motionless
the Buddha wheel bright moon
comes flying
to accompany me
in my mountain stillness
and I smile up at it
above the dirty suffering world
It only took a single flake
to freeze my mind in the snowy night
a few clangs to smash my dreams
among the frosted bells
and the stove's night fire fragrance
too is melted away
yet at my window the moon
climbs a solitary peak
through a face full of clear frostiness
raw cold bites
through a head overstuffed with white hair
a gale whistles
and over the world from flowers of emptiness
shadows fall
but from my eyes the spells of darkness
have completely melted
in the sh sh murmur of the spring
I hear
moon clear the primal Buddha pulse
come from the West
with motionless tongue
eternally speak
how can I be sad again?
how strange
in the dark valley the
orchid scent is overwhelming
and at midnight the moon's form
so gracefully sways by
like a sudden flick of the
stag tail whisk
reasonless is
smashes my meditation
in its Buddha flash I'd forgot all
reason quieted in contemplation
when an orphan brilliance glared on
my mediation, startling me
and I saw off through the void
lightning strike
but it wasn't the same
as the firefly beneath my eyes
clouds scatter the length of the sky
rain passes over
the snow melts in the chill valley
as Spring is born
and though I feel my body's like
the rushing water
I know my mind's not
as clear as the ice
I'm so rotted out
I should pity these weak bones
but look! my conciousness is reborn
my mind strengthens
day and night my back
is like an iron rod
constant and pervasive is my mediation
like an evening's frost
in the empty valley
all filth is wiped away
but this bit of lazy cloud
stays on
for company I have the pine branches
twitching stag tail whisks
which is almost enough deer
to make a herd.
an enchanted film across the eyes
floating dust on the mind
yet all ins and outs become one
with one twirl of the lotus
and the chilocosm
whole in my body
a quiet night
but the bell toll will not stop
and on my stone bed dreams and thoughts
alike seem unreal
opening my eyes
I don't know where I am
until the pine wind sounds
fill my ears
like some pure clarity
distilled out of a jeweled mirror
the Spring waters
fill the many lakes
reflect up into my eyes
here on Mt. Lu
and the moon above my forehead
becomes a bright pearl.
six on the lotus clock?
the sticks too short
and on the incense piece
where's the century mark?
day and night are truly constant
and stop nowhere
to know immortality in the morning
hold in your hand the womb of the flower to be
though a slice of cloud
seals the valley mouth
a thousand peaks
scratch open its emptiness
and in the middle
are a few thatched huts
where hidden deep is
this white haired mountain man
what a pity the blue mountains
go on forever
this old white hair is petrified
of the time to come
and plans to burn himself out
amongst the inns down in the dust
anyway who ever heard
of a lazy transcendental?
on the mountainside
mournfully sipping the night rain
to the pine sounds
throat choking on clear frost
gone to beg food
this Buddha's priest is a tired bird
until the moth brow crescent
moon arises new made up
the world shines
like a watery moon
my body and mind
glisten like porcelain
though I see the ice melt
the torrents descend
I will not know
the flowers of Spring
outside my door
blue mountains bouquet
before the window
yellow leaves rustle
I sit in meditation
without the least word
and look back to see
my illusions completely gone.

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