Han Shan - Han Shan Translated by R. H. Blyth
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Translated by R. H. Blyth
Zen and Zen Classics , Volume 2: History of Zen. The Hokuseido Press, 1964. pp. 159-171.
My mother and father left me enough to live on,
I have no need to grudge others their lands and fields.
My wife works at the loom; creak! creak! it goes.
My children prattle and play;
Clapping their hands, they dance with the flowers,
Rhey listen to the song of the birds, chin on hand.
Who comes to pay his respects?
A woodcutter, occasionally.
Beams with a thatch over them, - a wild man's dwelling!
Before my gate pass horses and carts seldom enough;
The lonely woods gather birds;
The broad valley stream harbours fish;
With my children I pluck the wild fruits of the trees;
My wife and I hoe the rice field;
What is there in my house?
A single case of books.
I live in a village;
And everybody praises me to the skies,
But yesterday I went to the town.
Even the dog watched me suspiciously;
The people don't like the cut of my coat,
Or my trousers are too long or too short for them.
If an eagle is struck blind,
The sparrows fly openly.
I was pretty poor before,
Today I am wretchedness and misery itself.
Everything is at sixes and sevens.
I meet suffering everywhere I go.
I often slip about on the muddy roads;
I get belly-ache when I sit with my neighbours.
when the tabby cat is lost,
Rats occupy the rice-chest.
Here's a fine chap, strong in mind and body,
He has the Six Accomplishments;
But when he goes South he's driven North,
And when he goes West he's sent away East,
Always floating like duckweed,
Like 'flying grass," never at rest.
You ask, "What kind of man may this be?"
His surname is Poverty; the first name is Extremity.
Last night I dreamed I was back home again,
And was looking at my wife weaving.
She stopped the loom, and seemed deep in thought,
And as though she had not the strenght to begin again.
I called to her and she looked up at me,
But did not recognise me, and stared vacantly.
The years are many since we parted,
And my hair is not the colour it used to be.
In the citadel there is a beautiful lady;
The pearls at her waist tinkle silverly.
Among the flowers she dandles a parrot,
And plays the lute under the moon.
The long tones of her song still linger after three months;
The short dance,-- all come to see.
But this will not continue forever;
The lotus flower cannot bear the frost.
I live in a nice place,
Far from dust and bustle.
By treading the turf, I have three paths;
The clouds I see I make my four walls.
To help Nature express itself there are the voices of birds;
Here there is nobody to ask about Buddhist philosophy.
The Tree of the World is still growing;
My short span of spring,-- how many years will it be?
The Way to Hanshan is a queer one;
No ruts or hoof prints are seen.
Valley winds into valley,
Peak rises above peak;
Grasses are bright with dew,
And pine trees sough in the breeze.
Even now you do not know?
The reality is asking the shadow the way.
Quietly I visited a famous monk;
Mountains rose one atfter another through the mist.
The master pointed out my way back;
The moon, a circle of light, hung in the sky.
I dwell below boulders piled one upon another.
A path fit for birds! It only prevents people form coming.
The garden,-- can you call it a garden?
The white clouds embrace ineffable rocks;
How many times have I seen spring depart, seen winter come again?
But avoid the dinner bell and banquets galore,
Beware of names empty and profitless.
My hut is beneath a green cliff,
The garden a wilderness;
The latest creepers hang down in coils and twinings,
Ancient rocks stand sharp and tall.
Monkeys come and pick the wild fruits;
The white heron swallows the fish of the pools.
Under the trees I read some Taoist books;
My voice intones the words and phrases.
These past twenty years!-- thinking of them,
How I have walked quietly back from Kuoching Temple,
And all the people of the temple
Say of Hanshan, "What a nincompoop he is!"
Why do they call me a fool, I wonder?
But I can't decide the question,
For I myself don't know who 'I" is,
So how can others possibly know?
I hang my head; what's the use of their asking?
What good can thinking about it do?
People come and laugh at me.
I know quite well what they think of me,
But I am not foolish enough to retort to them,
Because they do just what I want them to do.
Chuangtse told us about his funeral,
How Heaven and Earth would be his coffin.
There is a time to die,
And just one hurdle will do.
Dead, I shall be the food of blow-flies;
I won't give white cranes the trouble of mourning for me.
To starve on Mount Shouyang,--
It's a gallant life, a joyful death.
People ask the way to Hanshan,
But there is no way to Hanshan.
The ice does not melt even in summer,
And even if the sun should rice, dense vapours clothe it round.