Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. 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? The dog Turns and turns about, stops and sleeps. And there is nothing vaster, more beautiful, remote, unthinking eternal rose-red sunrise on the surf—great rectitude of rocks than man, inhuman man, At whom I look for a thousand light years from a seat near Scorpio, amazed and touched by his concern and pity for my plight, a simple star, Then trading shapes again.
My wife is gone, my girl is gone, my books are loaned, my clothes are worn, I gave away a car; and all that happened years ago. Sung Thomas Chang. Living Dharma in the 21st Century. Varun Khanna. Sayings of the Buddha and Other Masters. Mark Zocchi. Smoke from This Altar. Louis L'Amour.
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Cold Mountain? There is no road that goes through.
Though the sun comes out, the fog is blinding. How can you hope to get there by aping me? Your heart and mine are not alike. If your heart were the same as mine,. Then you could journey to the very center! None of the other translators sampled here go so far out on a limb in translating this line. As a character, Han-shan is often represented as playful and pure, comical yet wise in the face of hypocrisy. Let alone the fact that he lived solitary in a mountain cave for lengthy stretches throughout his life and that in China he is often represented as a spirit particularly representative of the natural world, the poems themselves, and first-hand accounts of encounters with the recluse monk, show a personae both innocent and inquisitive, energetic and a bit of a nuisance.
Han-shan encompassed, then, attributes that, at least in relation to his fellow monks who would never dream of leaving the safety and relative comfort of the temple or the town, the characteristics of a wild primate. Today we laugh with and not at Han-shan, who was supposedly two steps ahead of his brethren, spiritually speaking. Like anyone else, Han-shan suffered when judged harshly, was lonely at times, and felt the burden of age increasingly encompass him.
Han-shan carried on conversations in his poem about these same issue, despite the fact that no one was around to read or hear. Yet, at the heart of almost all the work there is the distinct feeling that Han-shan is addressing an unnamed someone, some audience or recipient of his wisdom, both common and revelatory. This voiceless receptacle in which Han-shan poured the workings of his mind, some faceless auditor, is as much a character as the speaker himself.
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Burton Watson introduces the auditor a bit more than do previous translators. Han-shan was a recluse and mystic, yes, but his mountain, however isolated, was no island. Perhaps what first stands out in J. Each line, with the exception of the final two comprising the payoff , is complete in and of itself. This feature renders the translation formal, maybe even overly wordy; a lot is packed into each.
It also compels me to revisit the other poems, retroactively noticing that they, too, share this feature. One possible differentiator is the caesura. People ask about the Cold Mountain way:. Sunrise, and the mist would blind a hidden dragon. So, how could a man like me get here? My heart is not the same as yours, dear sir …. If your heart were like mine,.
Seaton employs no hard stops throughout any line in the poem. Four commas regulate reader rhythm to a degree, but they provide barely a hiccup. Arthur Waley uses even fewer commas two , and nothing else, but Waley uses those commas efficiently, shaking up the conventional syntax. Such usage is far from unconventional, but it does provide enough of a deviation, given the brevity of the poem, to shape the whole experience.
Gary Snyder places a colon in line two. Though he uses nothing but commas thereafter, the colon is enough of a disruptor, when coupled with the erratic line lengths and rhythms, to characterize the whole poem. Though the hard stop is not identical, it serves a similar purpose in shaking up the rhythms of such a short poem.
Poems by Cold Mountain and Stonehouse
But one element Seaton does include that sets his translation apart is italics. The italics provide the emphatic imperative that there is real tension, not just on the part of the speaker, but perhaps seething from both. Though there is an element of tension, maybe even pain, in each translation, Seaton pushes this element to an aggressive level. Why it should make an appearance in this poem I cannot say.
Poetry Matters: Han-shan and the Cult of Translation
Of the seven translations I have read of this poem none of the other six so much as hint at a dragon. Is the inclusion here a culturally insensitive method of giving this poem some added Chinese flare? I tend to doubt it. Though the meaning remains the same, more or less, throughout the five versions, the level of creativity with which each translator renders the lines is one of the details that makes comparing these translations so worthwhile.
No dragon, perhaps, but beautiful, evocative language in their own respects. Individual details aside, what is so enthralling about this particular Han-shan poem that makes it so rife for translation?