Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Pick Up from Cold Mountain

For a mud ball dropped in water

big plans make no sense

for a fragile dreamlike body

a hundred years are rare

unable to ponder deeply

and claiming they're immortal

people steal a ton of gold

then leave it all behind

I have featured the poems of Tang dynasty hermit Han Shan (Cold Mountain) several times on this blog, chosen from the translations of Burton Watson. This morning I was reading Red Pine's excellent collection, "The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain" and was struck by the timeless views of Han Shan's able sidekick, Shih-te (Pick Up). Red Pine's book includes 49 Shih-te verses along with over 300 attributed to Han Shan. Bonus! In print from Copper Canyon Press, this collection is a must have item for lovers of the "brush and ink" crowd.

Although I have used a traditional portrait of Shih-te with broom in hand, perhaps I should have illustrated this verse with a picture of ol' Kenny Boy, merely one of the vast crowd of potential poster-boys for the above verse. But then, why honor fools even with scorn?


Heidi said...

I am adding this to book to my "must buy soon" list!

Heidi said...

Er...I meant "adding this book to..."

That's what I get for not previewing my comments! ;-)