Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Poem: Han Yu (768-824)

The Pond in a Bowl, Five Poems


In old age
I'm back
to childhood pleasures.

A bowl in the ground
Just add water --
it's a pool!

Throughout the night
frogs croaked
till it dawned,

as they did
when I fished
as a child at Feng-k'ou.


Who says
you can't make a pond
out of a bowl?

The lotus sprig
I planted not long ago
has already grown to full size.

Don't forget,
if it rains
stop for a visit.

Together we'll
listen to raindrops splash
on the green leaves.


Come morning,
the water brightens
as if by magic.

One moment alive
with thousands of bugs
too small to have names,

Next moment
they're gone,
leaving no trace,

Only the small fish
this way and that
swim in formations.


Does the bowl
in the garden
mock nature

when night after night
green frogs gather
to prove it's a pool?

If you choose to come
and keep me company
need you fill

the dark with noise
and endless squabble
like husband and wife?


Say the bright pond
mirrors the sky
both blue.

If I pour
water, the pond

Let night
the moon go

how many stars
shine back
from the water!

(translated by Kenneth O. Hanson, Sunflower Spendor)
[image source]
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