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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.




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.







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.

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