This translation from Chinese of a poem by Han Shan, the Hermit-Sage of Cold Mountain, is by the Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen. He translated Han Shan’s verses without worrying about perfect English syntax, but rather left the language closer to the original Chinese in which each ideogram must be placed by the reader into the context in order to complete the meaning. Therefore, when reading this poem just continue on if you stumble on a word and you will get the spirit of Han Shan transmitted to you. Enjoy!
Han Shan – the Poet of Cold Mountain:
Since I have escaped to Cold Mountain,
Eat the wild fruits I obtain.
In my life to worry nothing,
Passing on with whatever condition,
Days and months slip by as water,
Time is like stone-sparks, no matter!
Let the world itself change and change,
I sit in cave, nothing alter!
I enjoy my great Buddha way.
On plants and stones it is to lay,
My minds nature is free and vast,
White clouds are with me, day by day!
My path is not open to the world.
My heart is void unable to say!
On the stone bed I sit alone,
The white moon rises up round and gay!
My mind is like the white moon,
Clean and clear as the mirror,
Nothing can compare with it,
How could I make metaphor?
Advise you of the plastic society,
Don’t only talk without any good conduct,
If you have no reason you will be blamed,
If you have reason, you will still reach defeat,
In the defiled world there are evil men,
Just like plasters covering much deceit.
See him the man who has no worldly task,
He is liberated without any conceit.
Let three evil realms be their own nature.
He returns to natural reality!
Pure and holy he lives in the Dharma,
Never drinks the Avidya water of dirt!
I see those wise men,
Who know their own minds!
Without any knowledge,
The plain truth they find!
Love not the matter,
Leave passions behind!
When mind becomes void,
Suchness is in hand!
I meditate in the cave.
The bright moon shines in the sky.
All phenomenon are shadows,
And the moon, grasping not, yet shines.
Vast and pure is my spirit,
So wondrous yet empty!
From the finger is seen the moon,
From the moon the truth comes so soon!
I sit in front of the cliff,
So long all the clouds take leave.
The clean stream becomes cold,
The green cave is high enough,
Tree’s shadow becomes so stiff,
Moonlight seems bring the night up,
As my body touches no dirt!
So my mind has no grief!
The deeper the better is the cave!
No body walks on this narrow wave.
White clouds rest on the highest hill,
Green cliff hides the monkeys who trill,
No relative other than these,
I do like live here at my will!
Let my face and seasons change,
My mind-pearl is always so still!
Talk about food can’t feed!
Talk about clothes can’t warm!
You must eat the rice,
Wear clothes in good form,
If you don’t think of,
Practice seems to harm,
If you turn in your mind,
Buddha is at home!
I could not change my rule,
I’m not straw mat to roll,
Wander in the forest,
Sit on the stone I cull!
If you do want a good place to live on,
The ice mountain is ideal one, I have found.
Breezes murmur gently between calm pine trees.
It’s elating to hear and one is free,
Under these trees there is a grey haired man,
Reading his Sutra as much as he can,
For ten years he did not return,
He forgot the roads by which he came!
I stay in such obedience!
No body is my audience!
Sitting among the brilliant clouds,
I am always in silence!