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
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.
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.
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.
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.