With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
Subscribe and Save up to 45%
footlog across deep torrent
wearing the dew, pluck savory ferns
woodcutters songs mingle with the sound of sutras
return together to the pines
sunset, cold mountain, sad
clouds float, my cloak.
joy’s in the sound of Spring source up the cliff
late in the evening, the mountains quiet
moon washes pines
a thousand peaks, a single hue.
up and up the towering mountain
courting the danger of the narrow pass
for the simple sake of solitude
surprised by the verdure of the torrent’s banks
then, in my gaze, a hut perched on the precipice
now, free of the grove, the path lost
I’ll follow the song of the woodcutter’s home.
we offer fragrant herbs and pour libations
mourning you here among the pines
at the stream’s mouth we gazed toward the peak:
were all we saw.
The swallows return here
In the cold heights they dart through the flying waters
My friends are gone, my heart can see them
A flash of pure brilliance, glistening, long.
rapids rush and rush again
boat’s hard to steer
I’ll never see who’s resting at the tower
mountains flutter past like swallows
evening sun on a distant island: all I can see
the white terns fly.
mountain snows melt, swell the stream
I cross on a tree felled long ago
No way to know
the distance to the source
watch it rush
from among mountain flowers
mountain colors, up close, far off
all day long going, looking at the mountains
different peaks in view from every different place
I do not know their names.
These poems, by Ou-yang Hsiu, were translated by Sandy Seaton, who has been teaching Chinese language and literature at UNC in Chapel Hill since 1968.