The Mountain Poems of Hsieh Ling-yün
Dwelling in the Mountains
Here where I live,
lakes on the left, rivers on the right,
you leave islands, follow shores back
to mountains out front, ridges behind.
Looming east and toppling aside west,
they harbor ebb and flow of breath,
arch across and snake beyond, devious
churning and roiling into distances,
clifftop ridgelines hewn flat and true.
Far off to the south are
peaks like Pine-Needle and Nest-Hen,
Halcyon-Knoll and Brimmed-Stone,
Harrow and Spire Ridges faced together,
Elder and Eye-Loft cleaving summits.
When you go deep, following a winding river to its source,
you're soon bewildered, wandering a place beyond knowing:
cragged peaks towering above stay lost in confusions of mist,
and depths sunken away far below surge and swell in a blur.
As for my
homes perched north and south,
inaccessible except across water:
gaze deep into wind and cloud
and you know this realm utterly.
Climbing Green-Cliff Mountain in Yung-chia
Taking a little food, a light walking-stick,
I wander up to my home in quiet mystery,
the path along streams winding far away
onto ridgetops, no end to this wonder at
slow waters silent in their frozen beauty
and bamboo glistening at heart with frost,
cascades scattering a confusion of spray
and broad forests crowding distant cliffs.
Thinking it's moonrise I see in the west
and sunset I'm watching blaze in the east,
I hike on until dark, then linger out night
sheltered away in deep expanses of shadow.
Immune to high importance: that's renown.
Walk humbly and it's all promise in beauty,
for in quiet mystery the way runs smooth,
ascending remote heights beyond compare.
Utter tranquillity, the distinction between
yes this and no that lost, I embrace primal
unity, thought and silence woven together,
that deep healing where we venture forth.