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?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Never Mind the Beard


Yes, I'd say so.

But sometimes it can be

So very hard to see,

I wish that old barbarian

Would trim his eyebrows!