Recently, I have been engaging in translations of Chinese poetry about mountains. I love sacred mountains and poetry, so poems about mountains represent some of my favorite contemplative poems. It seems to me that reading them reminds me that I am on earth and as I read and re-read the lines, I am reminded of the limitations of a cerebral experience of life. I spend so much time in my logic mind sorting through details (lunch boxes, coats, swim lessons, babysitters, teaching, schedules, blah blah blah) that it is hard to remember the infinite possibilities. These poems revive me. If you are curious, I can’t recommend the collection of translations by David Hinton, “Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China”. Published by Counterpoint (2002).
by Su Tung-p’o (1037-1101)
Forests end in mountain light, and bamboo hides walls.
A confusion of cicada cries, dry grasses, a small pond.
An occasional bird wings white through empty sky,
and delicate in scent, waterlilies shine across water.
Out beyond the village, along
ancient city walls, I’ll stroll
till dusk, staff in hand, then turn back in slant light.
Thanks to rain that came last night in the third watch,
I get another cool day in this drifting dream of a life.