The Chuang Tzu

Gazing at the Great Mount

To what shall I compare
The Sacred Mount that stands,
A balk of green that hath no end,
Betwixt two lands!
Nature did fuse and blend
All mystic beauty there,
Where Dark and Light
Do dusk and dawn unite.

Gazing, soul-cleansed, at Thee
From clouds upsprung, one may
Mark with wide eyes the homing flight
Of birds. Some day
Must I thy topmost height
Mount, at one glance to see
Hills numberless
Dwindle to nothingness.

* * *

Alone in her Beauty

Who is lovelier than she?
Yet she lives alone in an empty valley.
She tells me she came from a good family
Which is humbled now into the dust.

...When trouble arose in the Kuan district,
Her brothers and close kin were killed.

What use were their high offices,
Not even shielding their own lives? --

The world has but scorn for adversity;
Hope goes out, like the light of a candle.

Her husband, with a vagrant heart,
Seeks a new face like a new piece of jade;

And when morning-glories furl at night
And mandarin-ducks lie side by side, All he can see is the smile of the new love,
While the old love weeps unheard.

The brook was pure in its mountain source,
But away from the mountain its waters darken.
...Waiting for her maid to come from selling pearls
For straw to cover the roof again,

She picks a few flowers, no longer for her hair,
And lets pine-needles fall through her fingers,
And, forgetting her thin silk sleeve and the cold,
She leans in the sunset by a tall bamboo.

* * *

To my retired friend Wei

It is almost as hard for friends to meet
As for the morning and evening stars.
Tonight then is a rare event,
Joining, in the candlelight,
Two men who were young not long ago
But now are turning grey at the temples.

...To find that half our friends are dead
Shocks us, burns our hearts with grief.
We little guessed it would be twenty years
Before I could visit you again.
When I went away, you were still unmarried;
But now these boys and girls in a row
Are very kind to their father's old friend.

They ask me where I have been on my journey;
And then, when we have talked awhile,
They bring and show me wines and dishes,
Spring chives cut in the night-rain
And brown rice cooked freshly a special way.

...My host proclaims it a festival,

He urges me to drink ten cups --
But what ten cups could make me as drunk
As I always am with your love in my heart?
...Tomorrow the mountains will separate us;
After tomorrow-who can say?

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