drafty mountain hut

always at home, forever on the way

Tag: poetry

Mountains and Waters 2022 (3)

by tendo zenji

Looking East from Cuthroat Pass in the North Cascades

On Climbing the Highest Peak of Stone Gate


At dawn with staff in hand I climbed the crags,
At dusk I made my camp among the mountains.
Only a few peaks rise as high as this house,
Facing the crags, it overlooks winding streams.
In front of its gates a vast forest stretches,
While boulders are heaped round its very steps.
Hemmed in by mountains, there seems no way out,
The track gets lost among the thick bamboos.
My visitors can never find their way,
And when they leave, forget the path they took.
The raging torrents rush on through the dusk,
The monkeys clamour shrilly through the night.
Deep in meditation, how can I part from Truth?
I cherish the Way and never will swerve from it.
My heart is one with the trees of late autumn,
My eyes delight in the buds of early spring.
I dwell with my constant companions and wait for my end,
Content to find peace through accepting the flux of things.
I only regret that there is no kindred soul,
To climb with me this ladder to the clouds in the blue.


–Xie Lingyun
Translated by J. D. Frodsham in Zen Poems (Everyman’s Library)

Mountains and Waters 2022 (2)

by tendo zenji

Looking west from Easy Pass in the North Cascades

AFTER CLIMBING PA-LING MOUNTAIN, IN THE WEST HALL AT WAI-YDAN MONASTERY: OFFERED TO A MONK BEYOND THIS WORLD ON HENG MOUNTAIN


There’s a sage monk on Heng Mountain,
the beauty of five peaks his true bones,

autumn moon alight in a sea of water
revealing his ten-thousand-mile heart.

A guardian gone into southern darkness,
pilgrims of the Way all visit him there,

sweet dew sprinkling down, a language
clear and cool gracing flesh and hair.

Bright lake a mirror of fallen heaven,
scented hail a gate into all this silver:

come for the view, I feed on kind winds,
new blossoms teaching mind this vast.

–Li Po
Translated by David Hinton in The Selected poems of Li Po

Mountains and Waters 2022 (1)

by tendo zenji

Thornton Lake from Trappers Peak in the North Cascades

Climbing Long-View Mountain’s Highest Peak

Rivers and mountains beyond the form seen:
Hsiang-yang’s beauty brings them in reach,

and Long-View has the highest peak around.
Somehow I’d never climbed its cragged heights,

its rocky cliffs like walls hacked and scraped
and towering over mountains crowded near,

but today, skies so bright and clear, I set out.
Soon the far end of sight’s all boundless away,

Cloud-Dream southlands a trifle in the palm,
Warrior Knoll lost in that realm of blossoms.

And back on my horse, riding home at dusk,
a vine-sifted moon keeps the stream lit deep.

–Meng Hao-Jan
translated by David Hinton in The Mountain Poems of Meng Hao-Jan

by tendo zenji

Waiting for Wine that Doesn’t Come

Jade winejars tied in blue silk….
What’s taking that wineseller so long?

Mountain flowers smiling, taunting me,
it’s the perfect time to sip some wine,

ladle it out beneath my east window
at dusk, wandering orioles back again.

Spring breezes and their drunken guest:
today we were meant for each other.

Li Po, translated by David Hinton in The Selected poems of Li Po

Green mountains emptiness

by tendo zenji

At Manifold-Devotion Post-Station,
a Second Farewell to the Governor

Ending our distant farewell, separation 
begins here, green mountains emptiness

felt. We'll never again wander together 
sipping wine beneath last night's moon.

The whole country sings praises of you, 
radiant through three reigns. Me, I'll go 

home to my river village, nurture what 
life remains in isolate depths of silence.

-Du Fu
Translated by David Hinton in Selected Poems of Tu Fu

Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the River

by tendo zenji

 

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Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the River
A poem by Tu Fu, translated by David Hinton

1

Who understands the grief these riverside blossoms inflict?
It makes me crazy, and there’s no one here to tell, so I go

searching for our southern neighbor, my old friend in wine,
but he’s gone ten days drinking. All I find is an empty bed.

2

A thick frenzy of blossoms crowding our river shorelines,
I wander along, listing dangerously, in full fear of spring.

With poems and wine against all that profusion, I endure:
arrangements for this ancient, white-haired man can wait.

3

Deep river repose, two or three houses in bamboo quiet,
and such goings-on: red blossoms blazing among white.

Answering spring’s radiant glories, I too have my place:
sending them off with a  lovely wine on the shores of life.

4

Looking east to the city all smoke crowded with blossoms,
I love our little Hundred-Flower Stream tower even more:

to open gold jars and label out fine wine, calling beautiful
women to dance on embroidered mats: who could bear it?

5

At the monastery abbot’s grace, the river flows away east,
spring’s radiant glories idle and tired among sparse winds.

In this crush of peach blossoms open without their owner’s
empty mind, I can treasure reds deep or shallow the same.

6

Blossoms crowd orchard paths where the abbot’s wife lives:
thousands, tens of clustered thousands weigh branches down,

and ceaseless butterflies linger in playful dance, as exquisite
oriole song tumbles along empty and altogether its very self

-Tu Fu
translated by David Hinton in The Selected Poems of Tu Fu

the dark teaching

by tendo zenji

Vultures follow
vanishing snows north, feeding
easily on winter-

kill death. How
exquisite the death-

teaching their
flight offers: endlessly
patient, effortless,
indifferent. Some-
times, silence.

grown altogether
dark and deep, I must
decide to
breathe, decide

breath after
breath. And in the silence
before I

decide, I glimpse
how that dark
teaching sets us
free, how it
sets us free, and then

lifts away
again into flight.

David Hinton, from Desert: Poems

North Cascades Mountain Practice (I)

by tendo zenji

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This mountain
seems somehow
lonely as I

am. People
come and go
through its empty

distances, and those
distances remain

empty. I’m getting old
now, but this
mountain’s
been here almost
forever. No

wonder it understands

loneliness so much
better than
I ever will. Every
time I come

here, we both
promise never to
leave, and mountains
always keep
their promises.

The eye, the mirror–
deep eye is
magic. Things seen

go all the way
inside me
and vanish there. It seems
impossible, I

know, but everything
heals from inside

out.

David Hinton, from Desert: Poems

Pilgrimage

by tendo zenji

CCP.jpg

 

Pilgrimage

still dwelling on the death of a poet
I made my way to the peninsula
to pay homage in the woods

but amidst the throngs, nothing felt right
and so I returned to the island
with only a thin volume in my hands

After Morning Rain

by tendo zenji

A few small sails, barely moving,
dot Fidalgo Bay. As the sun burns away
the last pale clouds, a confluence
of robins descends to explore
my neighbor’s garden—
brown grass, muddy beds and the last
fading roses of the year.

It is September, the end of summer.
My backyard maples turning orange
and red and gold. From my high window,
the great mountain looks
painted on the horizon line,
small mountains at its feet, then
headlands and the Salish Sea below.

I can read no more today
about the agonies of this world,
its desperate refugees, the men
of arms and gold whose death tolls
are as numberless as the stars.
I’ve grown weary, impatient,
as I’ve grown old.

After this morning’s rain, I dream
only of a woman’s gentle laughter,
her fingers on my arm as we sip wine
in the evening, telling tales,
lighting the heart’s small fires
that will get us through the rains
of autumn and dark winter.

Alone at my window, I watch
a silent world and find it
welcome, my own silence welcome.
Longing has its own quiet place
in the human heart, but love
is sometimes rapturous, noisy,
almost uncivilized, and knows
no boundaries, no borders.

And what am I but its solitary
pilgrim—lost, found, lost again—
on the long journey whose only end
is silence before the burning
of my body, one last moment
of flame, a whiff of smoke
washed clean
and gone with the rain.

— Sam Hamill, in After Morning Rain