Sunday, February 6, 2011

Poem of the week

Han Yu (768-824)
trans. David Hinton

This old-timer's like a sage monk, simple as a child:
draw water, bury a bowl—suddenly I've got a pond!
Green frogs call all night, straight through till dawn
and those good old days, lazy fishing at Square-Gape!

Don't say you can't really make a pond in a bowl.
Those lotus roots I planted are growing already!
From now on, when it rains, you can hurry over:
we'll listen to its windblown patter on the leaves.

In my porcelain pool, water's pure clarity at dawn.
Tiny insects, who knows what kind or how many,
scatter suddenly away, not a trace of them anywhere.
Just baby fish, in a school, darting here and there.

Muddy bowl, tiny, shallow—how could it be a pond?
Green frogs at midnight, sage masters, they know:
hearing a croak, they bring their friends—all that
squabbling male and female. Don't mind the racket.

Alight, my pond mirrors sky, azure into azure.
I just pour in a few jars of water, fill it brimful,
then wait. Evening deepens and the moon sets,
and look, swimming down there: all those stars!

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