from ageing to sageing


Two poems for the days just before Winter Solstice

by Han Shan – the Sage from Cold Mountain

Sitting alone I am sometimes overcome 
By vague feelings of sadness and unrest. 
Round the waist of the hill the clouds stretch and stretch; 
At the mouth of the valley the winds sough and sigh. 
A monkey comes; the trees bend and sway; 
A bird goes into the wood with a shrill cry. 
Time hastens the grey that wilts on my brow; 
The year is over, and age is comfortless.

I have sat here facing the Cold Mountain 
Without budging for twenty-nine years. 
Yesterday I went to visit friends and relations; 
A good half had gone to the Springs of Death. 
Life like a guttering candle wears away– 
A stream whose waters forever flow and flow. 
Today, with only my shadow for company, 
Astonished I find two tear-drops hang.

translation: Arthur Waley






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