View of A Waterfall

Aglow in purplish smoke is a sunlit censer summit

Afar in view hangs a water curtain, shimmering while plunging …

Three thousand feet in a single flight!

Must be the Silver River unfolding from the Heaven of Delight

~ Translated by Dot, from Li Bai’s “Waterfall at Mount Lushan,” written in the Tang dynasty

日照香爐生紫煙
遙看瀑布掛前川
飛流直下三千尺
疑是銀河落九天

~ 李白 (唐朝) <<望廬山瀑布>>

A Downstream Ride

Bidding farewell to Baidi, I departed in the morning glow

Riding downward to Jiangling, three hundred miles take one day to flow

On the banks left and right, monkeys are calling nonstop

Passing by countless ridges, my skiff flies like a stone thrown

~ Translated by Dot, from Li Bai’s “Downstream To Jiangling,” written in the Tang dynasty

朝辭白帝彩雲間
千里江陵一日還
兩岸猿聲啼不住
輕舟已過萬重山

~ 李白 (唐朝) <<下江陵/早發白帝城>>

Mountain View

Through the opening of Mount Tianmen, flows the Chu River

Turning around from its eastward course, here comes the turquoise water

Along both sides of the riverbank, green ridges are lush in sight

Over the horizon, a solitary sail shows up alight

~ Translated by Dot, from Li Bai’s “View of Mount Tianmen,” a poem written in the Tang dynasty

天门中断楚江开,碧水东流至此回。
两岸青山相对出,孤帆一片日边来。

~ 李白 (唐朝) <<望天门山>>

High Noon Thirst

Jujube flowers all over me

Spinning wheels echoing through the village

Under old willow tree, a hawker peddling melons

Drowsy from wine and long journey

It is high noon, I am feeling thirsty

Knocking at a villager’s door, I ask for tea

~ Translated by Dot, from Su Shi’s “Silk-Washing Stream,” a tune written in the Song dynasty

簌簌衣巾落枣花,村南村北响缫车,牛衣古柳卖黄瓜。
酒困路长惟欲睡,日高人渴漫思茶。敲门试问野人家。

蘇軾 (宋代) <<浣溪沙 簌簌衣巾落枣花>>

Late Night Thinking

Today is January 15, 1099, I am an exile in Dan Zhou*. This evening a few old pals came to visit. “It’s such a nice evening with a fine moon, how about we go for a stroll?” They said. Happily I tagged along.

In the western part of the town, we dropped by a temple, passing through some narrow alley, crowded butcher shops and wine stores, where strangers like me were mingling with locals. By the time we got back, it was already midnight. The door was closed, and the ones inside were snoring. Laying aside my walking stick, I let out a laugh. What is gain in life, what is loss? My friends asked what I was laughing about. I was just laughing at myself.

Although I was also laughing at Han Yu**. He was once fishing in a desolate place and couldn’t catch anything, so he thought he should go somewhere far and away, in order to catch big fish. What he didn’t know is, even if you go as far as to the sea, you don’t necessarily catch big fish.

~ Translated by Dot, from Su Shi’s “A Midnight Note To Myself In Dan Zhou,” written in the Song dynasty

*Dan Zhou – a remote seaside town on Hai Nan Island, regarded as “the world’s end” in China

**Han Yu – a famous poet in the Tang dynasty

己卯上元,余在儋州。有老书生数人来过,曰:“良月佳夜,先生能一出乎?” 予欣然从之。步城西,入僧舍,历小巷,民夷杂揉,屠酤纷然,归舍已三鼓矣。舍中掩关熟寝,已再鼾矣。放杖而笑,孰为得失?问:“先生何笑?” 盖自笑也。然亦笑韩退之钓鱼无得,更欲远去,不知走海者未必得大鱼也。

~ 蘇軾 (宋代) <<儋耳夜書>>

A Lake With A View (2)

Freed turtles and fish lingering about the boat

Blooming everywhere are lotuses afloat

Hills, pillowed on the waves, rising up and down

In a breeze, the boat and the moon’s reflection wavering about

~ Translated by Dot, from Su Shi’s “On June 27 Getting Drunk At Lake View Pavilion,” written in the Song dynasty

放生鱼鳖逐人来,无主荷花到处开。
水枕能令山俯仰,风船解与月徘徊。

~ 蘇軾 (宋代) <<六月二十七日望湖樓醉書>>

A Lake With A View (1)

Before rain, dark clouds are like spilled ink

writing off half the hills

Since rain, pearly drops dance around the boats

like splattered beads

A gust of rolling wind suddenly come

blasting them to a scrum

Under Lake-View Pavilion, the water is like the sky

~ Translated by Dot, from Su Shi’s “On June 27 Getting Drunk At Lake View Pavilion,” written in the Song dynasty

黑云翻墨未遮山,白雨跳珠乱入船。
卷地风来忽吹散,望湖楼下水如天。

~ 蘇軾 (宋代) <<六月二十七日望湖樓醉書>>

While Still Young

The spring not yet old, with gentle wind and dainty willows

On the Sublime Pavilion I gaze afar, beyond a moat half brimmed, is a town in full bloom

Misty rain drapes over the hues, where every light dims


After the Cold Food Fest in early April, I wake up feeling drunk

No sense indulging in nostalgia for old dreams

Let me ignite a new fire for fresh tea

You must try some new brew, while you’re still young

~ Translated by Dot, from Su Shi’s “Gazing South – On the Sublime Pavilion,” written in the Song dynasty

春未老,风细柳斜斜。试上超然台上看,半壕春水一城花,烟雨暗千家。
寒食后,酒醒却咨嗟。休对故人思故国,且将新火试新茶,诗酒趁年华。

~ 蘇軾 (宋代) <<望江南 超然台作>>

Up and About at Night

One night in autumn, right when I was about to go to bed, the moonlight sneaked into the room with an invite, which I accepted with delight.

To share the fun, I went to Cheng Tian Temple and knocked on my friend’s door. He’s not yet asleep either, so we took a walk in the courtyard. The ground was a pool of moonbeams, crisscrossed with the shadows of bamboos and cypresses, swaying like freshwater algae.

Which night doesn’t come with a moon? What place doesn’t have bamboos? Only that nobody else is as leisurely as us to sightsee.

~ Translated by Dot, from Su Shi’s “A Nightout at Cheng Tian Temple,” written in the Song dynasty

元丰六年十月十二日夜,解衣欲睡,月色入户,欣然起行。念无与为乐者,遂至承天寺寻张怀民。怀民亦未寝,相与步于中庭。庭下如积水空明,水中藻、荇交横,盖竹柏影也。何夜无月?何处无竹柏?但少闲人如吾两人者耳。

~ 蘇軾 (宋代) <<記承天寺夜遊>>

No Mind

Letting go of greed, anger, and ignorance

Is identical with following a healthy diet

While purifying the mind, body, and speech

Is to be released from all worldly bias

My pure nature is in harmony

With your selfless state

All things are of single essence

In the no-mind realm

~ Translated by Dot, from Shi De’s original verses written in the Tang dynasty

无瞋是持戒,心净即出家。我性与汝合,一切法无差。

~ 拾得 (唐代)

Shi De, aka Shih-Te or Pickup, was a monk on Mount Tiantai in the Tang dynasty. Allegedly, as a little boy he was abandoned by his parents and adopted by Feng Gan – a legendary Buddhist poet at the Guoqing Temple on Mt. Tiantai, and ever since he spent most of his life working and practicing at the temple, forming the famous “Tiantai Trio” (天台三聖) with Feng Gan and their mutual friend – Han Shan (Cold Mountain).

The West Lake

On sunny days, ripple of sparkles dances across the lake

In drizzling rains, misty sprays drape the hill half in vague

Bringing to mind that legendary beauty

Plain or rich makeup both work fairly

~ Translated by Dot, from Su Shi’s poem written in the Song dynasty, “A Toast To The Lake: Shine Or Rain.”

水光潋滟晴方好,山色空蒙雨亦奇。
欲把西湖比西子,淡妆浓抹总相宜。

~ 蘇軾 (宋代) <<飲湖上初晴後雨>>

The Mountain and I

Birds, flying high, vanish in a race

Clouds wander adrift, leaving no trace

Seeing eye to eye with a knowing on the quiet

Just the mountain and I

~ Translated by Dot, from Li Bai’s “Sitting Alone On Mt. Jingting,” written in the Tang dynasty

衆鳥高飛盡,孤雲獨去閒。
相看兩不厭,唯有敬亭山。

~ 李白 (唐代) <<獨坐敬亭山>>