The Late Poems of Wang An-shih

 

 

Written on a Wall at

Samadhi-Forest Monastery

 

Samadhi-Forest has a host, the abbot,

and I’m the guest. Host and guest, we

 

each have our own mind, but they’re

both quiet as the same mountain peak.

 

 

 

 

Wandering Out with a Full Moon to

Eightfold-Integrity River

 

Thoughts turned far away from you,

confusion rife, I can’t sleep. Finally

 

I rise, gaze up into bright stars, then

saddle a horse and wander the road

 

east, thinking rivers and mountains

might ease my worries. I know you

 

ate no dinner. Come: we’ll ladle out

clouds together here at their source.

 

 

 

 

On a Farewell Journey to Send off

Mend-Source, a Sudden Windstorm Rages,

So I Write Four Lines on the Boat’s Wall

 

At the Huai River mouth, west wind turns

brutal. My friend’s stuck here who knows

 

how long. But look: the rising moon turns

all these thoughts we share incandescent!

 

 

 

 

Spring Rain

 

Bitter mist hides spring colors. Grief-

drizzle sickens the splendor of things.

 

That dark isolate wonder impossible

now, I swill down a cup of dusk haze.

 

Radiance-Hut

 

I understood Radiance-Hut Monastery today.

Ox-Head Mountain stands resolute at the gate,

 

but graves are tangled mulberry and bamboo,

terrace and temple a ruins of jade and gold.

 

A newborn calf sleeps in windblown silence.

Evening crows take flight one by one. Each

 

sight opens thousand-year dreams, no words

enough even for tonight’s blossoms and rain.

 

 

 

 

Pure-Apparent Monastery

 

Pure-Apparent, ancient monastery

twenty autumns deserted and cold:

 

it’s seen the ruin ravaging kalpas,

and now I come cultivating origins.

 

 

 

 

Chant

 

Dawn lights up the room. I close my book and sleep,

dreaming of Bell Mountain and full of tenderness.

 

How do you grow old living with failure and disgrace?

Stay close to the cascading creek: cold, shimmering.

 

 

 

 

Last Poem

 

Getting this old isn’t much fun,

and it’s worse stuck in bed, sick.

 

I draw water and arrange flowers,

comforted by their scents adrift,

 

scents adrift, gone in a moment.

And how much longer for me?

 

Cut flowers and this long-ago I:

it’s so easy forgetting each other.