Saturday, June 07, 2014


In My House What Do I Have?

Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by the T'ang Poet Han-shan, tr. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), p. 20:
A thatched hut is home for a country man;
Horse or carriage seldom pass my gate:
Forests so still all the birds come to roost,
Broad valley streams always full of fish.
I pick wild fruit in hand with my child,
Till the hillside fields with my wife.
And in my house what do I have?
Only a bed piled high with books.
Robert G. Henricks, The Poetry of Han-shan: A Complete, Annotated Translation of Cold Mountain (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990), p. 64:
A thatched hut, the place where a rustic lives;
In front of his gate, horses and carts are few.

The woods are secluded and dark—'specially suited for birds to collect;
The valley streams, wide and broad—from the beginning meant to hold fish.

Mountain fruits, hand in hand my son and I pick;
Marshy fields, together with my wife I plow.

And in our house what do you find?
Nothing more than a bed full of books.
Red Pine (i.e. Bill Porter), The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain (Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2000), p. 57:
A mountain man lives under thatch
before his gate carts and horses are rare
the forest is quiet but partial to birds
the streams are wide and home to fish
with his son he picks wild fruit
with his wife he hoes between rocks
what does he have at home
a shelf full of nothing but books
Thanks to Taylor Posey for bringing Red Pine's translation to my attention.

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