These poems, by Ou-yang Hsiu, were translated by Sandy Seaton, who has been teaching Chinese language and literature at UNC in Chapel Hill since 1968.

 

At Huang-Hua Monastery
footlog across deep torrent
wearing the dew, pluck savory ferns
woodcutters songs mingle with the sound of sutras
return together to the pines
sunset, cold mountain, sad
clouds float, my cloak.

 

Returning In The Moonlight
To Huang-Hua
joy’s in the sound of Spring source up the cliff
late in the evening, the mountains quiet
moon washes pines
a thousand peaks, a single hue.

 

Up The Mountain
up and up the towering mountain
courting the danger of the narrow pass
for the simple sake of solitude
surprised by the verdure of the torrent’s banks
then, in my gaze, a hut perched on the precipice
now, free of the grove, the path lost
I’ll follow the song of the woodcutter’s home.

 

At The Grave Of Po Chu-I
we offer fragrant herbs and pour libations
mourning you here among the pines
at the stream’s mouth we gazed toward the peak:
floating clouds
                                   were all we saw.

 

Swallow Falls
The swallows return here
In the cold heights they dart through the flying waters
My friends are gone, my heart can see them
A flash of pure brilliance, glistening, long.

 

Stone Tower
rapids rush and rush again
wind rages
                          boat’s hard to steer
I’ll never see who’s resting at the tower
mountains flutter past like swallows
evening sun on a distant island: all I can see
the white terns fly.

 

Lang-Yeh Creek
mountain snows melt, swell the stream
I cross on a tree felled long ago
No way to know
                                      the distance to the source
watch it rush
                                      from among mountain flowers

 

Far Off Mountains
mountain colors, up close, far off
all day long going, looking at the mountains
different peaks in view from every different place
I do not know their names.