Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China

 

 

Evening Landscape, Clearing Snow

 

Walking-stick in hand, I watch snow clear.

Ten thousand clouds and streams banked up,

 

woodcutters return to their simple homes,

and soon a cold sun sets among risky peaks.

 

A wildfire burns among ridgeline grasses.

Scraps of mist rise, born of rock and pine.

 

On the road back to a mountain monastery,

I hear it struck: that bell of evening skies!

 

 

 

12th Moon, 14th Sun: A Light Snow Fell Overnight, So I Set Out Early for South Creek, Stopped for a Quick Meal and Arrived Late

 

Snowfall at South Creek: it's the most priceless of things,

so I set out to see it before it melts. Hurrying my horse,

 

pushing through thickets alone, I watch for footprints,

and at dawn, I'm first across fresh snow on a red bridge!

 

Houses in shambles beyond belief, nowhere even to sleep,

I sit facing a village of starvation, voices mere murmurs.

 

Only the evening crows know my thoughts, startled into

flight, a thousand flakes tumbling through cold branches.

 

 

 

 

 

Egrets

 

Robes of snow, crests of snow, and beaks of azure jade,

they fish in shadowy streams. Then startling up into

 

flight, they leave emerald mountains for lit distances.

Pear blossoms, a tree-full, tumble in the evening wind.

 

 

 

On the Summit Above Tranquil-Joy Temple

 

Who says poets are so enthralled with mountains? Mountains,

mountains, mountains— I've raved on and on, and they're still

 

clamoring for attention. A thousand peaks, ten thousand ridges:

it's too much for me. If I climb an hour, I need to rest for three.

 

When your desk is piled full, you just can't add anything more,

and when your withered stomach is full, who can keep eating?

 

So what good's even a faint scrap of mist or kingfisher-green?

I'll wrap it all up, send the whole bundle off to my city friends