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Poetry

In Reply to Vice-Magistrate Chang

Translated from Chinese

In these twilight years, I love tranquility
alone. Mind free of our ten thousand affairs,

self-regard free of all those grand schemes,
I return to my old forest, knowing empty.

Soon mountain moonlight plays my ch'in.*
Pine winds loosen my robes. Explain this

inner pattern behind failure and success?
Fishing song carries into shoreline depths.

*The ch'in is the ancient stringed instrument that Chinese poets used to accompany the chanting of their poems (poems were always sung). The ch'in appears often in classical poetry. It is ancestor to the more familiar Japanese koto.

From Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China, forthcoming from New Directions.

English

In these twilight years, I love tranquility
alone. Mind free of our ten thousand affairs,

self-regard free of all those grand schemes,
I return to my old forest, knowing empty.

Soon mountain moonlight plays my ch'in.*
Pine winds loosen my robes. Explain this

inner pattern behind failure and success?
Fishing song carries into shoreline depths.

*The ch'in is the ancient stringed instrument that Chinese poets used to accompany the chanting of their poems (poems were always sung). The ch'in appears often in classical poetry. It is ancestor to the more familiar Japanese koto.

From Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China, forthcoming from New Directions.

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