Han Shan - Poems by Han-shan Translated by Arthur Waley - 1 to 14
Type of Spiritual Experience
In his poems the Cold Mountain is often the name of a state of mind rather than of a locality. It is on this conception, as well as on that of the "hidden treasure," the Buddha who is to be sought not somewhere outside us, but "at home" in the heart, that the mysticism of the poems is based.
A description of the experience
Poems by Han-shan Translated by Arthur Waley
From my father and mother I inherited land enough--
And need not envy others' orchards and fields.
Creak, creak goes the sound of my wife's loom;
Back and forth my children prattle at their play.
They clap their hands to make the flowers dance ;
Then chin on palm listen to the birds' song.
Does anyone ever come to pay his respects?
Yes, there is a woodcutter who often comes this way.
I have thatched my rafters and made a peasant hut;
Horse and carriage seldom come to my gate--
Deep in the woods, where birds love to forgather,
By a broad stream, the home of many fish.
The mountain fruits child in hand I pluck;
My paddy fidd along with my wife I hoe.
And what have I got inside my house?
Nothing at all but one stand of books.
When I was young I weeded book in hand,
Sharing at first a home with my elder brothers.
Something happened, and they put the blame on me;
Even my own wife turned against me.
So I left the red dust of the world and wandered
Hither and thither, reading book after book
And looking for some one who would spare a drop of water
To keep alive the gudgeon in the carriage rut.
Wretched indeed is the scholar without money;
Who else knows such hunger and cold?
Having nothing to do he takes to writing poems,
He grinds them out till his thoughts refuse to work.
For a starveling's words no one has any use;
Accept the fact and cease your doleful sighs.
Even if you wrote your verses on a macaroon
And gave them to the dog, the dog would refuse to eat.
Wise men, you have forsaken me;
Foolish men, I haw.' forsaken you.
Being not foolish and also not wise
Henceforward I shall hear from you no more.
When night falls I sing to the bright moon,
At break of dawn I dance among the white clouds.
Would you have me with closed lips and folded hands
Sit up straight, xvaifing for my hair to go grey?
I am sometimes asked the way to the Cold Mountain;
There is no path that goes all the way.
Even in summer the ice never melts;
Far into the morning the mists gather thick.
How, you may ask, did I manage to get here?
My heart is not like your heart.
If only your heart were like mine
You too would be living where I live now.
Long, long the way to the Cold Mountain;
Stony, stony the banks of the chill stream.
Twitter, twitter--always there are birds;
Lorn and lone--no human but oneself.
Slip, slap the wind blows in one's face;
Flake by flake the snow piles on one's clothes.
Day after day one never sees the sun;
Year after year knows no spring.
I make my way up the Cold Mountain path;
The way up seems never to end.
The valley so long and the ground so stony;
The stream so broad and the brush so tangled and thick.
The moss is slipperT, rain or no rain;
The pine-trees sing even when no wind blows.
Who can bring himself to transcend the bonds of the world
And sit with me among the white clouds?
Pile on pile, the glories of hill and stream;
Sunset mists enclose flanks of blue.
Brushed by the storm my gauze cap is wet;
The dew damps my straw-plaited coat.
My feet shod with stout pilgrim-shoes,
My hand grasping my old holly staff
Looking again beyond the dusty world
What use have 1 for a land of empty dreams?
I went off quiedy to visit a wise monk,
Where misty mountains rose in myriad piles.
The Master himself showed me my way back,
Pointing to where the moon, that round lamp, hung.
In old days, when I was very poor,
Night by night I counted another's treasures.
There came a time when I thought things over
And decided to set up in business on my own.
So I dug at home and came upon a buried treasure;
A ball of saphire--that and nothing less!
There came a crowd of blue-eyed traders from the West
Who had planned together to bid for it and take it away.
But I straightway answered those merchants, saying
"This is a jewel that no price could buy."
Leisurely I wandered to the top of the Flowery Peak;
The day was calm and the morning sun flashed.
I looked into the dear sky on every side.
A white cloud was winging its crane's flight.
I have for dwelling the shelter of a green cliff;
For garden, a thicket that knife has never trimmed.
Over it the flesh creepers hang their coils;
Ancient rocks stand straight and tall.
The mountain fruits I leave for the monkeys to pick;
The fish of the pool vanish into the heron's beak.
Taoist writings, one volume or two,
Under the trees I read--nam, nam.
The season's change has ended a dismal year;
Spring has come and the colours of things are flesh.
Mountain flowers laugh into the green pools,
The trees on the rock dance in the blue mist.
Bees and butterflies pursue their own pleasure;
Birds and fishes are there for my delight.
Thrilled with feelings of endless comradeship
From dusk to dawn I could not dose my eyes.