Rounding ten thousand turns through the mountains

Wang Wei

A GREEN STREAM

 

I have sailed the River of Yellow Flowers,

Borne by the channel of a green stream,

Rounding ten thousand turns through the mountains

On a journey of less than thirty miles….

Rapids hum over heaped rocks;

But where light grows dim in the thick pines,

The surface of an inlet sways with nut-horns

And weeds are lush along the banks.

…Down in my heart I have always been as pure

As this limpid water is….

Oh, to remain on a broad flat rock

And to cast a fishing-line forever!


Wang Wei

A FARM-HOUSE ON THE WEI RIVER

 

In the slant of the sun on the country-side,

Cattle and sheep trail home along the lane;

And a rugged old man in a thatch door

Leans on a staff and thinks of his son, the herdboy.

There are whirring pheasants? full wheat-ears,

Silk-worms asleep, pared mulberry-leaves.

And the farmers, returning with hoes on their shoulders,

Hail one another familiarly.

…No wonder I long for the simple life

And am sighing the old song, Oh, to go Back Again!


Meng Haoran

AT THE MOUNTAIN-LODGE OF THE BUDDHIST PRIEST YE

WAITING IN VAIN FOR MY FRIEND DING

 

Now that the sun has set beyond the western range,

Valley after valley is shadowy and dim….

And now through pine-trees come the moon and the chill of evening,

And my ears feel pure with the sound of wind and water

Nearly all the woodsmen have reached home,

Birds have settled on their perches in the quiet mist….

And still — because you promised — I am waiting for you, waiting,

Playing lute under a wayside vine.


Lying on a high seat in the south study,

We have lifted the curtain-and we see the rising moon

Brighten with pure light the water and the grove

And flow like a wave on our window and our door.

It will move through the cycle, full moon and then crescent again,

Calmly, beyond our wisdom, altering new to old.

…Our chosen one, our friend, is now by a limpid river —

Singing, perhaps, a plaintive eastern song.

He is far, far away from us, three hundred miles away.

And yet a breath of orchids comes along the wind.