Sunday, June 19, 2005

Li Po: Three Poems

I Make My Home in the Mountains

You ask why I live
alone in the mountain forest,

and I smile and am silent
until even my soul grows quiet:

it lives in the other world,
one that no one owns.

The peach trees blossom.
The water continues to flow.

Old Dust

We live our lives as wanderers
until, dead, we finally come home.

One quick trip between heaven and earth,
then the dust of ten thousand generations.

The Moon Rabbit mixes elixirs for nothing.
The Tree of Long Life is kindling.

Dead, our white bones lie silent
when pine trees lean toward spring.

Remembering, I sigh; looking ahead, I sigh once more:
This life is mist. What fame? What glory?

Zazen on the Mountain

The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

(all poems translated from the original Chinese by Sam Hamill;
from Midnight Flute: Chinese Poems of Love and Longing)