Selected Cold Mountain Poems

(spodzone photo)
(spodzone photo)

By Han Shan

In a tangle of cliffs I chose a place –

Bird-paths, but no trails for men.

What’s beyond the yard?

White clouds clinging to vague rocks.

Now I’ve lived here – how many years –

Again and again, spring and winter pass.

Go tell families with silverware and cars

What’s the use of all that noise and money?

*

Men ask the way to Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain: there’s no through trail.

In summer, ice doesn’t melt

The rising sun blurs in swirling fog.

How did I make it?

My heart’s not the same as yours.

If your heart was like mine

You’d get it and be right here.

*

I settled at Cold Mountain long ago,

Already it seems like years and years.

Freely drifting, I prowl the woods and streams

And linger watching things themselves.

Men don’t get this far into the mountains,

White clouds gather and billow.

Thin grass does for a mattress,

The blue sky makes a good quilt.

Happy with a stone under head

Let heaven and earth go about their changes.

*

Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,

The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:

The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,

The wide creek, the mist-blurred grass.

The moss is slippery, though there’s been no rain

The pine sings, but there’s no wind.

Who can leap the world’s ties

And sit with me among the white clouds?”

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