The first full flowering of Chinese poetry occurred in the illustrious T’ang Dynasty, and at the beginning of this renaissance stands Meng Hao-jan (689-740 c.e.), esteemed elder to a long line of China’s greatest poets. Deeply influenced by Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, Meng was the first to make poetry from the Ch’an insight that deep understanding lies beyond words. The result was a strikingly distilled language that opened new inner depths, non-verbal insights, and outright enigma. This made Meng Hao-jan China’s first master of the short imagistic landscape poem that came to typify ancient Chinese poetry. And as a lifelong intimacy with mountains dominates Meng’s work, such innovative poetics made him a preeminent figure in the wilderness (literally rivers-and-mountains) tradition, and that tradition is the very heart of Chinese poetry.
This is the first English translation devoted to the work of Meng Hao-jan. Meng’s poetic descendents revered the wisdom he cultivated as a mountain recluse, and now we too can witness the sagacity they considered almost indistinguishable from that of rivers and mountains themselves.
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About the Author
Translator: David Hinton’s many translations of ancient Chinese poetry have earned wide acclaim for creating compelling contemporary poetry. He is also the first translator in more than a century to translate the four original masterworks of Chinese philosophy: Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu, Analects, Mencius. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as numerous fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1997 he received the Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets.
Read an Excerpt
Autumn begins unnoticed. Nights slowly lengthen,
and little by little, clear winds turn colder and colder,
summer’s blaze giving way. My thatch hut grows still.
At the bottom stair, in bunchgrass, lit dew shimmers.
Gathering firewood I enter mountain depths,
mountain depths rising creek beyond creek
choked with the timbers of bridges in ruins.
Vines tumble low, tangled over cragged paths,
and at dusk, scarce people grow scarcer still.
Mountain wind sweeping through simple robes,
my chant steady, I shoulder a light bundle,
watch smoke drift across open country home.
Table of Contents
|Listening to Cheng Yin Play His Ch'in||5|
|Adrift on North Creek||6|
|Climbing Long-View Mountain's Highest Peak||7|
|Looking for the Recluse Chang Tzu-jung at White-Crane Cliff||8|
|Adrift on a Summer's Day, I Visit the Hermitage of Recluse T'eng||9|
|Inscribed on a Wall at Li's Farm, for Ch'i-wu Ch'ien||10|
|On Reaching the Ju River Dikes, Sent to My Friend Lu||11|
|On Reaching the Han River||12|
|Roaming up to Master Jung's Hermitage ...||13|
|Visiting the Hermitage of Ch'an Monk Jung||14|
|Returning to My Garden at Night after Looking for Chang Wu||15|
|On the Tower at Uphold All-Gathering Monastery||16|
|In Lo-yang, Stopping by to Visit Yuan Kuan without Finding Him||17|
|Looking for T'eng's Old Recluse Home||18|
|Traveling to Yueh, I Linger Out Farewell with Chang and Shen||19|
|7/7 in a Strange Village||20|
|Anchoring Overnight at Ox Island ...||21|
|Down the Kan River Rapids||22|
|9/9 at Dragon-Sands, Sent to Liu||23|
|Stopping Overnight at Date-Brights Inn||24|
|Autumn Night, Setting Moon||25|
|Looking for Mei, Sage Master of Way||26|
|At Lumen-Empty Monastery, Visiting Dharma-Guile ...||28|
|Encountering Snow on the Road to Ch'ang-an||29|
|Overnight at Kingfisher-Hue Monastery ...||30|
|Outside the Capital, Farewell to Acrid-Expanse||31|
|Lingering Out Farewell with Wang Wei||32|
|Year's-End, On Returning to Southern Mountains||33|
|Sent to Ch'ao, the Palace Reviser||34|
|A Farewell for Tu Huang||35|
|Spending the Night at Abbot Yeh's Mountain Home, ...||36|
|At Lumen-Empty Monastery, Visiting the Hermitage of ...||37|
|After Chang Yuan's Clear Mirror Lament||38|
|At the Pavilion on Grand-View Mountain, ...||39|
|Adrift at Wu-ling||40|
|Anchored off Hsun-yang in Evening Light, ...||41|
|Anchored Overnight on Thatch-Hut River ...||42|
|Waiting Out Rain at East Slope, ...||43|
|Overnight at Cypress-Peak Monastery ...||45|
|Adrift on What-If River||46|
|The Ch'an Depths of a Monk at Royal-Patriarch Monastery||47|
|Heading West up the Che River, ...||48|
|Overnight on Abiding-Integrity River||49|
|Up Early at Fish-Creek Lake||50|
|New Year's Eve at Chang Tzu-jung's House in Lo-ch'eng||51|
|Anchored Overnight near the City Wall at Hsuan-ch'eng||52|
|Upriver to Wu-ch'ang||53|
|Below South Mountain, Inviting a Sage Gardener to Plant Melons||54|
|Climbing Deer-Gate Mountain, Thoughts of Ancient Times||55|
|Returning Home to Deer-Gate Mountain at Night||56|
|After Visiting Thought-Essence Monastery, I Return ...||57|
|Looking for the Master at Chrysanthemum Pond ...||58|
|Climbing Grand-View Mountain with Friends||59|
|On Peak-Light Tower with Prime Minister Chang Chiu-ling||60|
|Out on the Road, Skies Clearing||61|
|At Tung-t'ing Lake, Sent to Yen Fang||62|
|On Returning to My Mountains, for the Ch'an Abbot Clarity-Deep||63|
|On a Journey to Thought-Essence Monastery, ...||65|
|Wandering the West Ridge at Phoenix-Grove Monastery||66|
|Searching Incense Mountain for the Monk Clarity-Deep||67|
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