Monday, December 17, 2012


Never Needing a Companion

Meng Haoran (689-740), "Returning at Night to Lumen Mountain" (tr. Witter Bynner):
A bell in the mountain-temple sounds the coming of night.
I hear people at the fishing-town stumble aboard the ferry,
While others follow the sand-bank to their homes along the river.
...I also take a boat and am bound for Lumen Mountain—
And soon the Lumen moonlight is piercing misty trees.
I have come, before I know it, upon an ancient hermitage,
The thatch door, the piney path, the solitude, the quiet,
Where a hermit lives and moves, never needing a companion.
The same, tr. Kenneth Rexroth:
I can hear the evening bell
In the mountain temple ringing
Above the voices of people
Calling for the ferry at
Fisherman's Crossing, and others
Going home to the village
Along the river beaches.
I take the boat back to Lu-Men.
On the mountain the moon shines
Through misty trees. At last I find
The ancient cabin of Lord P'ang,
Hidden by the cliffs,
On a path through the pines,
Where all is eternal peace,
And only a solitary
Man comes and goes by himself.
The same, tr. David Hinton:
As day fades into dusk, the bell at a mountain temple sounds.
Fish-Bridge island is loud with people clamoring at the ferry,

and others follow sandy shores towards their river village.
But returning home to Deer-Gate, I paddle my own little boat,

Deer-gate's incandescent moonlight opening misty forests,
until suddenly I've entered old Master P'ang's isolate realm,

Cliffs the gate, pine the path—it's forever still and silent,
just this one recluse, this mystery coming and going of itself.
The same, tr. Ye Yang:
At the mountain temple, the bells are ringing, the twilight is approaching;
I hear noise from those who race to get on the ferry by the Fishing Bridge.
People go to the riverside village along the sandy shore;
I also ride in a boat, on my way to the Deer Gate.
At the Deer Gate, the moon shines through the misty woods;
Before I know it, I've come to where the ancient recluse lived.
Doors in rock, path in pines, have long been quiet and forlorn;
Only a recluse moves around here, back and forth, late at night.

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