In our bathroom we have a small picture of Shide, co-conspirator on the matters of the heart with the poet Hanshan. I found it in a small antique shop in Seal Beach a lot of years ago. Sadly, they didn’t have the companion image of the old boy himself.
On the other hand I like how I see Shide, grinning at me, and can’t help but recall the other. Sort of like the human mind itself, a dance within a dance. Always someone reaching out. And in the shadows someone reaching back.
Hanshan, “Cold Mountain,” was a recluse living on Cold Mountain. We know next to nothing about him, nor, for that matter them. We aren’t even sure of his dates, or, for that matter, his historicity. Maybe he was a Zen Buddhist. Perhaps he was a Daoist. Or, possibly, not…
All of which is rather delicious.
Here are twenty-four of the poems translated by the, to my heart, equally wonderful poet for our time, Gary Snyder…
THE COLD MOUNTAIN POEMS
translated by Gary Snyder
可笑寒山道， 而無車馬蹤。 聯谿難記曲， 疊嶂不知重。 泣露千般草， 吟風一樣松。 此時迷徑處， 形問影何從。
The path to Han-shan’s place is laughable,
A path, but no sign of cart or horse.
Converging gorges—hard to trace their twists
Jumbled cliffs—unbelievably rugged.
A thousand grasses bend with dew,
A hill of pines hums in the wind.
And now I’ve lost the shortcut home,
Body asking shadow, how do you keep up?
重巖我卜居， 鳥道絕人迹。 庭際何所有， 白雲抱幽石。 住茲凡幾年， 屢見春冬易。 寄語鐘鼎家， 虛名定無益。
In a tangle of cliffs, I chose a place—
Bird paths, but no trails for me.
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?”
山中何太冷， 自古非今年。 沓嶂恆凝雪， 幽林每吐煙。 草生芒種後， 葉落立秋前。 此有沈迷客， 窺窺不見天。
In the mountains it’s cold.
Always been cold, not just this year.
Jagged scarps forever snowed in
Woods in the dark ravines spitting mist.
Grass is still sprouting at the end of June,
Leaves begin to fall in early August.
And here I am, high on mountains,
Peering and peering, but I can’t even see the sky.
驅馬度荒城， 荒城動客情。 高低舊雉堞， 大小古墳塋。 自振孤蓬影， 長凝拱木聲。 所嗟皆俗骨， 仙史更無名。
I spur my horse through the wrecked town,
The wrecked town sinks my spirit.
High, low, old parapet walls
Big, small, the aging tombs.
I waggle my shadow, all alone;
Not even the crack of a shrinking coffin is heard.
I pity all those ordinary bones,
In the books of the Immortals they are nameless.
欲得安身處， 寒山可長保。 微風吹幽松， 近聽聲逾好。 下有斑白人， 喃喃讀黃老。 十年歸不得， 忘却來時道。
I wanted a good place to settle:
Cold Mountain would be safe.
Light wind in a hidden pine—
Listen close—the sound gets better.
Under it a gray haired man
Mumbles along reading Huang and Lao.
For ten years I havn’t gone back home
I’ve even forgotten the way by which I came.
人問寒山道， 寒山路不通。 夏天冰未釋， 日出霧朦朧。 似我何由屆， 與君心不同。 君心若似我， 還得到其中。
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.
粵自居寒山， 曾經幾萬載。 任運遯林泉， 棲遲觀自在。 寒巖人不到， 白雲常靉靆。 細草作臥褥， 青天為被蓋。 快活枕石頭， 天地任變改。
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.
登陟寒山道， 寒山路不窮。 谿長石磊磊， 澗闊草濛濛。 苔滑非關雨， 松鳴不假風。 誰能超世累， 共坐白雲中。
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 word’s ties
And sit with me among the white clouds?
杳杳寒山道 ， 落落冷澗濱。 啾啾常有鳥， 寂寂更無人。 磧磧風吹面， 紛紛雪積身。 朝朝不見日， 歲歲不知春。
Rough and dark—the Cold Mountain trail,
Sharp cobbles—the icy creek bank.
Yammering, chirping—always birds
Bleak, alone, not even a lone hiker.
Whip, whip—the wind slaps my face
Whirled and tumbled—snow piles on my back.
Morning after morning I don’t see the sun
Year after year, not a sign of spring.
一向寒山坐， 淹留三十年。 昨來訪親友， 太半入黃泉。 漸減如殘燭， 長流似逝川。 今朝對孤影， 不覺淚雙懸。
I have lived at Cold Mountain
These thirty long years.
Yesterday I called on friends and family:
More than half had gone to the Yellow Springs.
Slowly consumed, like fire down a candle;
Forever flowing, like a passing river.
Now, morning, I face my lone shadow:
Suddenly my eyes are bleared with tears.11
碧澗泉水清， 寒山月華白。 默知神自明， 觀空境逾寂。
Spring water in the green creek is clear
Moonlight on Cold Mountain is white
Silent knowledge—the spirit is enlightened of itself
Contemplate the void: this world exceeds stillness.
出生三十年 ， 當遊千萬里。 行江青草合， 入塞紅塵起。 鍊藥空求仙， 讀書兼詠史。 今日歸寒山， 枕流兼洗耳。
In my first thirty years of life
I roamed hundreds and thousands of miles.
Walked by rivers through deep green grass
Entered cities of boiling red dust.
Tried drugs, but couldn’t make Immortal;
Read books and wrote poems on history.
Today I’m back at Cold Mountain:
I’ll sleep by the creek and purify my ears.
鳥語情不堪， 其時臥草庵。 櫻桃紅爍爍， 楊柳正毿毿。 旭日銜青嶂， 晴雲洗淥潭。 誰知出塵俗， 馭上寒山南。
I can’t stand these bird songs
Now I’ll go rest in my straw shack.
The cherry flowers are scarlet
The willow shoots up feathery.
Morning sun drives over blue peaks
Bright clouds wash green ponds.
Who knows that I’m out of the dusty world
Climbing the southern slope of Cold Mountain?
寒山多幽奇， 登者皆恆懾。 月照水澄澄， 風吹草獵獵。 凋梅雪作花， 杌木雲充葉。 觸雨轉鮮靈， 非晴不可涉。
Cold Mountain has many hidden wonders,
People who climb here are always getting scared.
When the moon shines, water sparkles clear
When the wind blows, grass swishes and rattles.
On the bare plum, flowers of snow
On the dead stump, leaves of mist.
At the touch of rain it all turns fresh and live
At the wrong season you can’t ford the creeks.
寒山有躶蟲， 身白而頭黑。 手把兩卷書， 一道將一德。 住不安釜竈， 行不齎衣祴。 常持智慧劍， 擬破煩惱賊。
There’s a naked bug at Cold Mountain
With a white body and a black head.
His hand holds two book scrolls,
One the Way and one its Power.
His shack’s got no pots or oven,
He goes for a long walk with his shirt and pants askew.
But he always carries the sword of wisdom:
He means to cut down sensless craving.
寒山有一宅， 宅中無闌隔。 六門左右通， 堂中見天碧。 房房虛索索， 東壁打西壁。 其中一物無， 免被人來惜。
寒到燒輭火， 飢來煑菜喫。 不學田舍翁， 廣置牛莊宅。 盡作地獄業， 一入何曾極。 好好善思量， 思量知軌則。
Cold Mountain is a house
Without beams or walls.
The six doors left and right are open
The hall is blue sky.
The rooms all vacant and vague
The east wall beats on the west wall
At the center nothing.
Borrowers don’t bother me
In the cold I build a little fire
When I’m hungry I boil up some greens.
I’ve got no use for the kulak
With his big barn and pasture —
He just sets up a prison for himself.
Once in he can’t get out.
Think it over —
You know it might happen to you.
一自遯寒山， 養命餐山果。 平生何所憂， 此世隨緣過。 日月如逝川， 光陰石中火。 任你天地移， 我暢巖中坐。
If I hide out at Cold Mountain
Living off mountain plants and berries—
All my lifetime, why worry?
One follows his karma through.
Days and months slip by like water,
Time is like sparks knocked off flint.
Go ahead and let the world change—
I’m happy to sit among these cliffs.
多少天台人， 不識寒山子。 莫知真意度， 喚作閑言語。
Most T’ien-t’ai men
Don’t know Han-shan
Don’t know his real thought
And call it silly talk.
一住寒山萬事休， 更無雜念挂心頭。 閑書石壁題詩句， 任運還同不繫舟。
Once at Cold Mountain, troubles cease—
No more tangled, hung up mind.
I idly scribble poems on the rock cliff,
Taking whatever comes, like a drifting boat.
客難寒山子， 君詩無道理。 吾觀乎古人， 貧賤不為恥。 應之笑此言， 談何疏闊矣。 願君似今日， 錢是急事爾。
Some critic tried to put me down—
“Your poems lack the Basic Truth of Tao.”
And I recall the old timers
Who were poor and didn’t care.
I have to laugh at him,
He misses the point entirely,
Men like that
Ought to stick to making money.
久住寒山凡幾秋， 獨吟歌曲絕無憂。 飢餐一粒伽陀藥， 心地調和倚石頭。
I’ve lived at Cold Mountain—how many autumns.
Alone, I hum a song—utterly without regret.
Hungry, I eat one grain of Immortal medicine
Mind solid and sharp; leaning on a stone.
寒山頂上月輪孤， 照見晴空一物無。 可貴天然無價寶， 埋在五陰溺身軀。
On top of Cold Mountain the lone round moon
Lights the whole clear cloudless sky.
Honor this priceless natural treasure
Concealed in five shadows, sunk deep in the flesh.
我家本住在寒山， 石巖棲息離煩緣。 泯時萬象無痕跡， 舒處周流遍大千。 光影騰輝照心地， 無有一法當現前。 方知摩尼一顆珠， 解用無方處處圓。
My home was at Cold Mountain from the start,
Rambling among the hills, far from trouble.
Gone, and a million things leave no trace
Loosed, and it flows through galaxies
A fountain of light, into the very mind—
Not a thing, and yet it appears before me:
Now I know the pearl of the Buddha nature
Know its use: a boundless perfect sphere.
時人見寒山， 各謂是風顛。 貌不起人目， 身唯布裘纏。 我語他不會， 他語我不言。 為報往來者，可來向寒山。
When men see Han-shan
They all say he’s crazy
And not much to look at—
Dressed in rags and hides.
They don’t get what I say
And I don’t talk their language.
All I can say to those I meet:
“Try and make it to Cold Mountain.”