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.