If You Need Inspiration…

From the joints where leaves broke or froze, new vines are emerging ALREADY. I love these beans.


Tu Fu

Rain road through, now the autumn night is clear
The water wears a patina of gold
and carries a bright jade star.
Heavenly River runs clear and pure,
as gently as before.

Sunset buries the mountains in shadow.
A mirror floats in the deep green void,
its light reflecting the cold, wet dusk,
dew glistening,
freezing on the flowers.

Li Bai

On Old River Mountain
A huge boulder swept clean
by the blue winds of Heaven

where they have written
in an alphabet of moss
an ancient song.

Bai Juyi

I was surprised my quilt and pillow were cold,
I see that now the window’s bright again.
Deep in the night, I know the snow is thick,
I sometimes hear the sound as bamboo snaps.

Li Ho

The autumn wilds bright,
Autumn wind white.
Pool-water deep and clear,
Insects whining,
Clouds rise from rocks,
On moss-grown mountains.
cold reds weeping dew,
Colour of graceful crying.

Wilderness fields in October — 
Forks of rice.
Torpid fireflies, flying low,
Start across dike-paths.
Water flows from veins of rocks,
Springs drip on sand.
Ghost-lanterns like lacquer lamps
Lighting up pine-flowers.

24 thoughts on “If You Need Inspiration…

  1. I’ve thought from the beginning (when I first “met” them) that these were indeed magic beans – from magic beanstalks. And to be on the lookout for Jack.
    Inspiring? Definitely 🙂

    • Chinese poetry doesn’t have the same forms English poetry has. They can’t be translated into English and retain their forms, so they’re just translated more-or-less word for word with a little effort to retain the elements of poetry. A lot of Chinese poetry relies on images that Chinese people are familiar with, and then the characters the poet uses might evoke the image in ways an alphabet language can’t. There’s a famous poem by Li Bai that is about a waterfall, and the way the character is written it looks like a waterfall. We can’t do that in English. It’s a pretty amazing poem even without the Chinese characters, but even more amazing with them. And the sounds of Chinese (any dialect) are so different from English — Chinese is essentially sung — and that’s a difference, too. Anything I put up here as a Chinese poem is some translator’s interpretation of a Chinese poem as much as it’s a translation. Some are better than others.

  2. Good to see your beans are full of … umm … beans. Li Bai also produced an old favourite. It is new each time I come across it, like Don Quixote by Pierre Menard

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