Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Six Poems on Living in the Mountains

Six Poems on Living in the Mountains

I've got a little picture in my mind of a clean and quiet place.
Everywhere you look it's completely natural.
The house is made of plaited rushes.
There's a good half-acre for growing tubers and flowers.
Beautiful birds perch on cliffs
That encase a few clouds that hang around green peaks.
The world's red dust won't be able to get up here.
Simple elegance is better than saintliness or spirituality.

Can joy be found in the mountains?
Let me tell you. There's more joy in the mountains
Than anywhere else.
Pines and bamboos perform sacred chants.
The songs of Sheng flutes are played by birds.
In the trees, monkeys climb for fruit.
In the ponds, ducks cavort with lotus lilies.
This escape from the ordinary world
Month by month and year by year
Eliminates the hindrances to Enlightenment.

Don't try to stand tall in the courtyards of fame.
In the mountains such dreams fade away.
Your body stands on its own when it's up with the clouds.
Your heart pulls away from worldly attachments.
The moon that I love clears a path through the pines
And guides a stream right to the bamboo gate.
Naturally, this is nothing short of amazing.
How could you disparage it... or ever tire of the sight?

In the mountains there's nothing at all which prohibits
Dreams of cooking millet during afternoon naps.
If you're lazy by nature, you won't brood about problems.
You'll make light of the body and won't fear the cold.
Chrysanthemums grow by the three ancient paths.
A few planted plum trees make the whole yard fragrant.
Engagements are blessedly short.
Leisure is blessedly long.

Just wake up from an afternoon nap in a grass hut.
Drag a walking stick and let it bounce free and easy.
Lean on a rock and watch the clouds rise.
Listen to the pine saplings and hear the sound of waves.
When the forest is dense, no guests pass by.
When the roads are dangerous, they're only used for gathering firewood.
The place is so pristine and cool
How could it fail to quench my mind's furnace of cares?

People complain of a hard life in the mountains.
I don't think it's much different from the hardships of anywhere else.
A clay oven burning birch twigs,
A stone cauldron boiling wild sprouts.
It seems that you've only just picked the chrysanthemums
That grow in the three months of autumn
When it's time to view the flowers of March.
Pity more the moon that night after night
Is forced to entertain society.

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