Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Mountain Poems of Hsieh Ling-yün

Not a Chinese painting but one done by Heywood Sumner of the New Forest.

Climbing Green-Cliff Mountain in Yung-chia

Taking a little food, a light walking-stick,
I wander up to my home in quiet mystery,

the path along streams winding far away
onto ridgetops,no end to this wonder at

slow waters silent in their frozen beauty
and bamboo glistening at heart with frost,

cascades scattering a confusion of spray
and broad forests crowding distant cliffs.

Thinking it's moonrise I see in the west
and sunset I'm watching blaze in the east,

I hike on until dark, then linger out night
sheltered away in deep expanses of shadow.

Immune to high importance: that's renown.
Walk humbly and it's all promise in beauty

Poetry is a great healer of the soul, and reading Robert Macfarlane's, The Wild Places, I came across the Chinese poem above, to quote from the site the poem is taken...

"During the last decade of his life, living as a recluse high in the mountains of southeast China, Hsieh Ling-yün (385-433 C.E.) initiated a tradition of "rivers-and-mountains" (shan-shui) poetry that stretches across millennia in China and beyond, a tradition that represents the earliest and most extensive literary engagement with wilderness in human history."

The concept that flows through Ling-Hun poetry is of course echoed in Gary Syder's book - Mountains and Rivers Without End.

A fragment from Snyder's poetry, called "The Flowing.".

Head doused under the bronze
dragon -mouth jet
From a cliff
spring - headwaters, Kamo
River back of Kyoto,
Cliff-wall statue of Fudo
Blue-faced growling Fudo
Lord of the headwaters, making
Rocks of water
Water of of rocks

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