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寒山 Hanshan (b/t 730-850)

(Rōmaji:) Kanzan
(English:) "Cold Mountain"
(Magyar:) Han-san,


A bölcs vigyor
Fordította: Károlyi Amy et al.

Han-shan, Cold Mountain Poems
Translated by Gary Snyder

27 Poems by Han-shan
Translated by Arthur Waley

Words from Cold Mountain
Translated by A. S. Kline

Three Short Poems by Han-shan
Translated by Peter Hobson

Selected Han-Shan Poems for Hippie Reading
by the Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

Han Shan
Translated by D. T. Suzuki

Han Shan
Translated by R. H. Blyth

Encounters with Cold Mountain
Translated by Peter Stambler

Songs of Cold Mountain
Translated by Red Pine

The Poetry of Han-Shan
Translated by Robert G. Hendricks

PART 1 Poems No. 1— No. 100
Poems No. 101— No. 200
Poems No. 201— No. 311

Han-shan and Shih-tê
Chapter XIV/26. In: The Golden Age of Zen
by John C. H. Wu

PDF: Han-shan Reader

PDF: Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by Han-shan
Translated by Burton Watson

PDF: Cold Mountain Poems
Translated by J.P. Seaton


The Poetry of Han-Shan, Part 1
Translated by Robert G. Hendricks
The Poetry of Han-Shan: A Complete, Annotated Translation of Cold Mountain
State University of New York Press. Albany, NY. 1990.


As for Master Han-shan, we don't know where he came from.He lived on Cold Cliffs in the T'ien-t'ai mountains in the county of T'ang-hsing.From time to time he would go back and forth between his retreat and Kuo-ch'ing Temple, wearing birchbark as his hat, dressed in a cotton-fur robe and worn-out shoes.Sometimes he would chant and recite in the long corridors; sometimes he'd whistle and sing through country homes. No one really understood him.

When Lü-ch'iu Yin was appointed to serve in Tan-ch'iu, as he was about to leave he ran into Master Feng-kan, who said he had come from T'ien-t'ai. Lü-ch'iu asked him what worthies fit to be taken as one's teacher this place had, and the Master replied, "There's Han-shan [who's an incarnation of] Mañjuśrī and Shih-te [who's an incarnation of] Samantabhadra.They tend the fires in the granary kitchen at Kuo-ch'ing Temple."

Three days after Lü-ch'iu arrived at his official post he went in person to the temple, where he saw the two men, and accordingly politely bowed down. The two men had a good laugh, saying, "Feng-kan's a blabbermouth, a blabbermouth! If you don't know Amitābha, what good does it do bowing to us?!" Then they left the temple and went back to Cold Cliffs, where Master Han-shan entered a cave and was gone, the cave closing up on its own.

He used to write down poems on bamboo trees and stone walls. Altogether, the poems he wrote on house walls in country homes come to over three hundred shou. I have edited them together in one volume.


No. 1

Whoever reads my poems
Must protect the purity in his mind.

Stinginess and greed must change into honesty day after day;
Flattery and deceit must right now become the upright!

Expel and banish, wipe out your bad karma;
Return to rely on, 1. accept your true nature.

Today! You must attain the Buddha-body; 2.
Quickly! Quickly! Treat this just like it's imperial law! 3.

I here break up kuei and i, but as a compound kuei-i means to take Buddhist vows, to take up the faith.
Fo-shen (buddha-kāya, or buddhatva) is a term often used to mean the same thing as fo-hsing, Buddha-nature.See the article by Andrew Rawlinson , " The Ambiguity of the Buddha-nature Concept in India and China," in Lancaster and Lai, ed., Early Ch'an in China and Tibet ( Berkeley, CA: Buddhist Studies Series, 1983), pp. 259-279.
Chi-chi ju lü-ling is a stock phrase of Taoist incantation said at the end of a chant addressed to spirits and/or demons.The phrase was first used at the end of official documents in the Han. A lü-ling was an order or command (from the emperor) that was written down as a law.A number of Taoist incantations that end in this way are translated into English by Michael Saso in his The Teachings of Taoist Master Chuang ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978), pp. 141 ff.On the assumption of the imperial role and some of its trappings by Taoist clergy, see Anna Seidel's excellent article, " Imperial Treasures and Taoist Sacraments: Taoist Roots in the Apocrypha," in Michel Strickmann, ed., Tantric and Taoist Studies in Honour of R. A. Stein, Mélanges Chinois et Bouddhiques, Vol. XXI ( 1983), pp. 291-371.


No. 2

'Midst layers of cliffs—the place I divined to live; 1.
Up on bird's trails, 2. cut off from the tracks of men.

What is there by the side of my court?
White clouds wrapped 'round dark rocks. 3.

I've lived here a number of years;
Repeatedly seeing the change from winter to spring.

I send this message to the families of wealth; 4.
An empty name will do you no good. 5.

"Pu-chü" (Divining Where to Live) is the title of one of the pieces in the Ch'u-tz'u ( Ch'u-tz'u pu-chu, 6: 1a-3b, pp. 73-74). For a translation, see David Hawkes, translator, The Songs of the South ( London: Penguin Books, 1985), pp. 203-206. Han-shan clearly identifies with the author of this little piece (attributed to Ch'ü Yüan) in choosing to live away from a corrupt and compromising society.
Niao-tao are paths that are high and dangerous, so narrow that only birds could get through.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 10) here note two lines in a poem by T'ao Hung-ching ( 456-536) that he supposedly addressed to Kao-ti of Southern Ch'i (r. 479-482). In response to the emperor's question of what there was in the mountains, T'ao replied: "In the mountains what is there? On top of the peaks the white clouds are many" (see Ting Fu-pao, ed., Ch'üan Han san-kuo Chin nan-pei-ch'ao shih, Vol. 3, p. 1234.) The line "White clouds wrapped 'round dark rocks" is a line first used by Hsieh Ling-yün ( 385-433) in his poem "Passing by my Estate in Shih-ning"( Wen‐ hsüan 26: 25a, p. 366). Hsieh wrote this in 422 when he visited his estate in Shih-ning (50 li west of the modern Shang-yü in Chekiang—not far at all from the T'ien-t'ai range) on his way to Yung-chia.He later retired to Shih-
Literally "families with bells and tripods of bronze" (chung-ting chia).
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 10) note the similar last line in poem 7 of the "Nineteen Old Poems" of the Han ( "Ku-shih, shih-chiu shou" Wen-hsüan 29: 4ab, p. 398). Watson translates: "What good are empty names?" ( Burton Watson, Chinese Lyricism: Shih Poetry from the Second to the Twelfth Century [ New York: Columbia University Press, 1971], p. 26). That Han-shan has this poem in mind is possible but uncertain—the poem is addressed to an old friend who has risen high in society and forgotten his former friend.In any event, as the reader will see, the "Nineteen Old Poems" is a set of poems from which Han-shan draws repeatedly for his themes.


No. 3

Delightful! The road to Han-shan;
Yet one finds no trace of horses or carts. 1.

One valley tied to another—hard to keep track of the twists and the turns;
Peak piled upon peak—nobody knows how many layers there are.

The dew sheds its tears on thousands of kinds of plants,
While the wind sighs and moans through pines that are all the same.

At times like these, if you lose track of the path,
Your form must ask your shadow which way to go. 2.

One is reminded here of T'ao Ch'ien's ( 365-427) "Drinking Wine" poems.No. 5 in that series of 20 opens with the lines, "I built my hut beside a traveled road, yet hear no noise of passing carts and horses" ( James Robert Hightower, translator, The Poetry of T'ao Ch'ien [ Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970], p. 130). For the Chinese text, see Yang Yung, T'ao Yüanming chi chiao-chien ( Hong Kong: Wu-hsing chi, 1971), p. 144.
Again, what could be an oblique allusion to the kindred poems of T'ao Ch'ien, here to his "Substance, Shadow, and Spirit" (Hsing, ying, shen), though the words simply indicate in a strong way that the poet is alone. (For a translation of " Substance, Shadow, and Spirit," see Hightower, The Poetry of T'ao Ch'ien, pp. 42-47.)


No. 4

For my home I delight in the hidden and concealed;
The place where I live is cut off from the noise and the dust.

The grasses I trample become my three paths; 1.
The clouds I behold, make up my neighbors on four sides all around.

In helping me sing—for music, there are the birds;
I'd ask about the Dharma, 2. but to talk with there's no one at all.

Today I'm like the stinking cedar;
Several years are just like one spring. 3.

On the "three paths" (san-ching) as code for the retirement home of a recluse, see Iritani and Matsumura, Kanzanshi, p. 24. T'ao Ch'ien mentions his "three paths" in his rhapsody "The Return" ( Kuei-ch'ü lai; Wen‐ hsüan 45: 19a-20b, p. 628), and Li Shan cites the San-fu chüeh-lu, which explains that the retired statesman of the Former Han, Chiang Hsü, opened up three paths on his farm.
Fa, the teaching of the Buddha.
The p'o-so-lo (our text has so-p'o) tree is the same as the ch'un or the shu, for which Bernard Read( Chinese Medicinal Plants, p. 100 [ Taipei: Southern Materials Center, 1977], item 341) has Ailanthus glandulosa— "stinking cedar." Thus the allusion here is to Chuang-tzu, Chapter 1 ( Chuang-tzu yin‐ te, p. 1, line 12), which Watson translates: "Long, long ago there was a great rose of Sharon [ch'un] that counted eight thousand years as one spring and eight thousand years as one autumn" ( Burton Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu [ New York: Columbia University Press, 1968], p. 30).


No. 5

Lute and books must be right by your side,
Of what use are wealth and rank?

In turning down the king's carriage, I followed the words
of my virtuous wife; 1.

For my officer "Lord of the Cart," I have my filial son. 2.

The wind blows, drying my fields of wheat;
The water overflows, keeping full my fish pond.

I always remember those little wrens,
Who rest content with one twig. 3.

Alluding to the story of the wife of Yü-ling Tzu-chung of Ch'u, recorded in the Lieh-nü chuan (2: 10ab). When Tzu-chung was offered the post of prime minister by the king of Ch'u, he first consulted with his wife. He urged her to consider the great wealth and honor he would enjoy if he accepted the offer. But she reminded him that there was also great joy in his books and his lute (note the relevance to the present poem's first line) and that his new post would mean many worries and dangers. He turned the job down. For a translation of the story, see Albert Richard O'Hara, The Position of Woman in Early China: According to the Lieh Nü Chuan "The Biographies of Eminent Chinese Women" ( Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1945), pp. 73-74.
For chin-ch'e, "Lord of the Cart," Hucker ( A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China [ Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985], p. 165 (item 1118) has "Master of the Royal Chariots." The title goes back to the Chou, when those holding this office were "responsible for the maintenance, allocation, and decoration of all chariots used by the royal entourage."
Alluding to Chuang-tzu, Chapter 1 (p. 2, line 25), Watson( The Complete Works, p. 32) translates: "When the tailorbird builds her nest in the deep wood, she uses no more than one branch.When the mole drinks at the river, he takes no more than a bellyfull." These are the words of the recluse Hsü Yu, stressing his contentment with what he has, as he declines the offer of Yao to give him control of the world.


No. 6

Brothers young and old, "together" in five commanderies;
Fathers and sons, fundamentally one, though scattered now in three regions. 1.

If you want to verify the union of the flying wild ducks, 2.
You must attest to the rambling of the White Hare. 3.

The sacred melon was received in a dream; 4.
The divine oranges he stored in his seat. 5.

My native country—how distant and far!
With the fish, I entrust these thoughts to the flow of the stream. 6.

Han-shan seems to write this in response to two lines from Yü Hsin 's ( 513-581) "Rhapsody on Broken Hearts"(Shang-hsin fu), the latter written to describe the chaotic times at the end of the Liang.The two lines are "As for brothers young and old, into five commanderies they are separated and spread out; as for fathers and sons, scattered apart into three regions" (see I-wen lei-chü 34, p. 606). Note that for Han-shan the brothers are "together" (t'ung) even though they live apart, and fathers and sons are "fundamentally one" (pen), even though living in separate domains.
The line might allude to the story in Hou Han shu 82A (Vol. 10, p. 2712) of Wang Ch'iao (some at the time said he was the immortal of antiquity Wang-tzu Ch'iao), who somehow arrived at court to meet with the Emperor without riding on a carriage.When a minister was sent to spy on him, the minister saw a pair of wild ducks flying in from the southeast. But when he went to capture the pair with a net, all he caught in it was a single magpie. ( Read— Chinese Materia Medica: Avian Drugs [ Taipei: Southern Materials Center, 1977], item 257, p. 18—says the fu is specifically the mallard.)
Reading the variant of cheng ("attest" or "verify") for ching ("manifest" or "display"), though obviously either character will work. A Master White Hare is mentioned in Ko Hung's Pao-p'u-tzu("Nei-p'ien," chapter 13 ["Chi-yen"], 13: 3a) as one of the disciples of the long-lived P'eng-tsu back in the Yin dynasty. (For a translation of the relevant passage, see James R. Ware , Alchemy, Medicine and Religion in the China of A. D. 320: The Nei P'ien of Ko Hung [ New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1966], p. 218.) Thus these two lines mean—I think—that the only way one can "magically" fly off to distant places (in the present context, in order to be reunited with family or friends) is to be adept at the practices of Taoist immortals.Presumably the author's implied meaning is that he is not adept at such things. Ch'en Hui‐ chien( Han-shan-tzu, pp. 172-173) points out that "white hare" is another name for the moon and thinks that white hare here stands for gathering together or "reunion" (under the moon). The two lines make good sense without the literary allusions; one might also translate: "If you wish to experience the union of the flying wild ducks" (meaning simply to be united with family and friends), "then you must attest to the rambling of the White Hare" (i.e., you must be together with them under the moon).
In a story of filial devotion (see Wei shu 33 [Vol. 3, pp. 774-775]) we learn that when Sung Ch'iung's mother took ill, she had a craving for melons, but it was the end of the fall.But Ch'iung "saw some in a dream, and seeking them he accordingly received." The narrator adds that "people of that time all saw this as strange." Ch'en Hui-chien ( Han-shan-tzu, p. 173), on the other hand, notes a number of literary associations of "sacred melons" (ling-kua) with Taoist immortals and immortality.Thus, the poet's point could simply be that—such things being received only in dreams— he has no such melons by means of which he can live long; he is simply a mortal.
Apparently alluding to an anecdote concerning Lu Chi (see San‐ kuo chih 57 [Vol. 5, p. 1328]). When he was six years old, he went to visit Yüan Shu, who at their meeting offered Lu Chi some oranges. Lu Chi proceeded to stick three inside his robe, which fell to the ground when he took his leave. Yüan Shu thought this a bit unbecoming of a guest, but Lu Chi explained that he intended to give these to his mother.Why Han-shan here calls these "divine" (shen) oranges is not entirely clear, unless this is simply used to balance the "sacred" (ling) melons of the previous line.Both of these lines seem to be ways of saying that the present author also thinks longingly of his mother now in this way.
I.e., his hope is that somehow his feelings for family and kin will get back to them, carried by the fish in the stream.


No. 7

I first was a student of books and swords,
And secondly met with a wise sagely lord.

In the East I protected, but my service received no reward;
In the West I attacked, but my strength got me no honor.

I studied literature and I studied war;
I studied war and I studied literature.

Today I'm already old;
What's left of my life isn't worthy of note.

Comment: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 29-30)—following the lead of Hakuin ( Kanzanshi sendai kibun, 1: 12-13)—connect this piece with a story about Han Wu-ti (r. 140-87 B. C.). In the Han Wu ku-shih (see Lu Hsün ch'üan-chi [ Shanghai: Jen-min wen-hsüeh, 1973], Vol. 8, p. 458) we read that Wu-ti once ran into a court attendant (lang), an old man, and discovering that the man had become an attendant under Emperor Wen (r. 179-157 B. C.), Emperor Wu asked why he had become old without meeting with further success.The attendant replied, "EmperorWen delighted in literature, and I delighted in maritial strength; Emperor Ching [r. 156‐ 141] liked the old, and I was still young; now you, sir, delight in the young, and I'm already old.Thus, for three generations I have not met [with further reward]." Emperor Wu was so moved by his words that he promoted him to Commander in Chief of Kuei-chi.

Iritani and Matsumura also note that there is a variant of "three" for "two" at the start of line 2, so the line could equally read: "And three times met with a wise sagely lord." Still, the connection—tantalizing though it might be—is not exact.The old attendant never claims to have studied both literature and war (wen and wu). And the author of our poem claims to have "protected" (shou) in the East—which sounds like he actually served for a while in the civil domain—and he "attacked" (cheng) on the West. (It is not

clear whether East and West here mean geographical parts of the realm or simply refer to the civil and military branches of service, since civil officials lined up on the east side of the court at the capital and military officials on the west.) Finally, the author of our poem shows no sign of receiving reward in the end.

Hakuin also notes as relevant the following comments from the biography of Hsiang Yü in Shih- chi 7 (Vol. 1, pp. 295- 296): "When Hsiang Yü was a boy, he studied the art of writing. Failing to master this, he abandoned it and took up swordsmanship. When he failed at this also, his uncle, Hsiang Liang, grew angry with him, but Hsiang Yü declared, 'Writing is good only for keeping records of people's names. Swordsmanship is useful only for attacking a single enemy and is likewise not worth studying. What I want to learn is the art of attacking ten thousand enemies!' With this, Hsiang Liang began to teach his nephew the art of warfare, which pleased Yü greatly. On the whole, Yü understood the essentials for the art, but here again he was unwilling to pursue the study in detail" (translated by Burton Watson, in Records of the Historian: Chapters from the Shih Chi of Ssu- ma Ch'ien [ New York: Columbia University Press, 1958], p. 68).


No. 8

When Chuang-tzu spoke of his funeral affairs,
[He said,] "Heaven and Earth will be my coffins."1.

My return 2.—this has its set time,
And all you'll need is one bamboo screen.

When I'm dead I'll feed the bluebottle flies; 3.
For mourning—no need to trouble white cranes. 4.

Starving to death on Mt.Shou-yang;
If your life has been incorrupt, then death is also a joy. 5.

See Chuang-tzu, Chapter 32 (p. 90, line 48). Watson( The Complete Works, p. 361) translates: "When Chuang Tzu was about to die, his disciples expressed a desire to give him a sumptuous burial. Chuang Tzu said, 'I will have heaven and earth for my coffin and coffin shell, the sun and moon for my pair of jade discs.... The furnishings for my funeral are already prepared—what is there to add?"'
i.e., his death.
To his disciples' concern that if they left his body alone, it would be eaten by crows and kites, Chuang-tzu responded: "Above ground I'll be eaten by crows and kites, below ground I'll be eaten by mole crickets and ants.Wouldn't it be rather bigoted to deprive one group in order to supply the other?" ( Watson, The Complete Works, p. 361). Han-shan will feed the "bluebottle flies," reflecting Chuang-tzu's words, on the one hand, but also the words of Yü Fan, on the other, who despaired that he would have nothing but bluebottle flies for mourners (note the connection with the following line). In the Yü Fan pieh-chuan, cited by P'ei Sung-chih in his notes to Yü Fan 's biography in San-kuo chih 57 (Vol. 5, p. 1323), Yü Fan, having been exiled to the South by Sun Ch'üan, laments: "I must forever be sunk in this corner of the sea. Alive I'll have no one to talk to; and when I die, for mourners I'll have bluebottle flies." Note the relevance of these lines to poem 37 as well.
That is to say, he has no hopes of being carried off by the symbols of Taoist immortality.
Alluding to Po I and Shu Ch'i, men of virtue living in bad times— back at the beginning of the Chou dynasty (traditional dates 1122-255 B. C.)—who chose to starve to death on Mt. Shou-yang rather than serve King Wu, whom they regarded as a usurper. For an English translation of their biography ( Shih-chi61), see Burton Watson, Records of the Historian: Chapters from the Shih Chi of Ssu-ma Ch'ien ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), pp. 11-15.


No. 9

People ask the way to Han-shan,
But there are no roads that get through.

In the summer, the ice not yet melted,
And though the sun comes up, the fog is still thick and dense.

How has someone like me arrived?
My mind and yours are not the same.

If your mind, sir, were like mine, 1.
You too could come right to the center. 2.

Han-shan cleverly uses the same ssu-wo ("like mine") here that he used first in line 5 ("someone like me"—ssu-wo).
The center of the mountains, but more importantly the "center" of the self, to the experience of Buddha-nature inside.


No. 10

When Heaven produces one-hundred-foot trees,
They can be cut into long and strong boards.

How sad that this "material for pillars and beams" 1.
Is abandoned in some hidden vale. 2.

Its years may be numerous, but its heart is still strong;
So many its days—its bark gradually getting bare.

But if one who knows worth comes and takes it,
It can still be used for some stable "post." 3.

Tung-liang chih ts'ai (though the phrase here is tung-liang ts'un) is a stock phrase for a man of worth, the kind of stuff from which great states-men are made.
"Abandoned" is p'ao and could possibly mean "sent into exile."
Note the double meaning of post—i.e., it is at one and the same time the wooden pole to be used in a barn and, symbolically, a government post that an old, but good, man might hold.


No. 11

I press my horse on to pass by the deserted city; 1.
Deserted cities move the feelings of the traveller.

High and low, the old battlements;
Large and small, ancient tombs.

Shaking on its own—the shadow of the lonely tumbleweed; 2.
Forever congealed—the songs sung at big trees. 3.

What I lament—these are all common bones;
What's more, you won't find their names in the histories of the immortals.

While Han-shan here begins by "pressing his horse" (ch'ü-ma), the author of poem 13 of the "Nineteen Old Poems" begins by "driving his carriage" (ch'ü-ch'e) in a poem that is likewise concerned with thoughts of graves and death (see Wen-hsüan 29: 6ab, p. 399; translated by Watson in Chinese Lyricism [ New York: Columbia University Press, 1971], p. 29).
Ku-p'eng is a stock image of the rootless, solitary traveller. The "battlements" of line 2 and the first four characters of the present line (tzu‐ chen ku-p'eng), are also mentioned by Pao Chao ( 414-466) in his "Rhapsody on a Deserted City" ( Wu-ch'eng fu, Wen-hsüan 11: 10a-13a). For a translation, see Burton Watson, Chinese Rhyme-Prose: Poems in the Fu Form from the Han and Six Dynasties Periods ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1971), pp. 92-95.
That is, at graves. "Big trees"—literally, kung-mu, trees that it takes both arms to go 'round—are trees that are planted by graves.The locus classicus for this association is the Tso chuan, Duke Hsi, year 32, p. 140.


No. 12

The parrot's home is the Western land,
But with forester's snare 1. it can be caught and brought here.

The beautiful women will play with it night and day;
In and out it will go, amid their rooms' screens.

As a gift, a gold cage to store it away; 2.
Locked in! It will lose its feathered clothes. 3.

Much better to be a goose or a crane,
Soaring and drifting up in the clouds.

Ch'en Hui-chien ( Han-shan-tzu yen-chiu, p. 252) suggests that in addition to "forester's snare," yü-lo might be read as yü-lo, "amusement net."
Although there seems to be no direct allusion in Han-shan's poem to Mi Heng's ( 173-198) famous "Rhapsody on the Parrot" ( Ying-wu fu; Wen-hsüan 13: 20a-23b, pp. 184-186), that parrots come from western lands and are kept in gold cages are themes also found there.
Yü-i ("feathered clothes") are things the immortals wear.It comes to mean the robes of a Taoist priest.

Comment: Parrots (ying-wu) were favorite playthings of wealthy ladies during the T'ang: note poem 14 below, and see Edward Schafer, The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of T'ang Exotics ( Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1963), pp. 99-102. The point of the last two lines is that though parrots might be beautiful, many-colored, and talented—can speak and understand words—the goose and the crane, plain-colored and untalented, still live in nature and are free.


No. 13

At the hall of jade hangs a curtain of pearls;
Inside is a beautiful maid.

In appearance surpassing immortals and gods,
Complexion glowing like the peach or the pear. 1.

At the Eastern inn spring mists collect;
At Western lodge fall winds arise.

And when the seasons have changed thirty years,
She too will look like pressed sugar cane. 2.

Ts'ao Chih, in poem 4 of the series "Tsa-shih, liu-shou" (six miscellaneous poems; Wen-hsüan 29: 16a, p. 404), uses this same line (but he uses it to describe himself) in a poem lamenting not being used while the end of his years draws near.His last line is, "Glory and luster cannot be relied on for long."
The metaphor of pressed sugar cane is used in the Nirvāna-sūtra (chüan 12, Chapter 7:2, "Sheng-hsing p'in"; T. 374, Vol. 12, p. 436 middle), where the resultant flavorless dregs are compared to the effects of old age on the flourishing looks of a good man in his prime years. "Squeezed" by old age, he will lack the "three flavors" (san-wei)—"leaving home" (ch'uchia), "reading and reciting [the sutras]" (tu-sung), and "sitting in meditation" (tso-ch'an).


No. 14

In the city, a maiden of beautiful brow;
Pearls at her waist—how they tinkle and ring.

She plays with her parrot in front of the flowers, 1.
Strums her p'i-p'a beneath the moon.

Her long song resounds for three months; 2.
Her short dance—ten thousand people will see. 3.

It won't necessarily be always like this;
Hibiscus can't withstand the cold. 4.

Parrots were a favorite plaything of rich women in the T'ang. See the comment to poem 12.
In the Lieh-tzu, Chapter 5 ("T'ang wen"), there is a story of a singing girl named Erh. A. C. Graham( The Book of Lieh-tzu [ London: John Murray, 1960], p. 109) translates: "Once a woman named Erh of Han ran out of provisions while travelling East to Ch'i.She entered the capital through the Concord Gate and traded her songs for a meal.When she left, the lingering notes curled round the beams of the gate and did not die away for three days; the bystanders thought that she was still there. She passed an inn, where the landlord insulted her. She therefore wailed mournfully in long drawn-out notes, and all the people in the quarter, old and young, looked at each other sadly with the tears dripping down their faces and could not eat for three days. They hurried after her and brought her back, and again she sang them a long ballad in drawn-out notes. The people of the whole quarter, old and young, could not help skipping with joy and dancing to handclaps, forgetting that they had been sad just before. Afterwards they sent her away with rich presents." In the present poem, the sound of the woman's song resounds for three months, not just three days, indicating, no doubt, that her song, or its effect, is that much more powerful than that of Erh. That her song is "long" probably means not only that it resounds a long time, but also that it is "long" in beauty and special sound.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 18) feel that "short dance" also alludes to some story, but they are unable to document the source.It seems likely that Han-shan uses "short" here to serve as a complement to the "long" of the preceding line.No dictionaries gloss "short dance," and there is nothing on it in the P'ei-wen yün-fu.
That is to say, rich, talented, beautiful young women also grow old and die. Hibiscus (fu-jung) is a flower that blooms in early fall.


No. 15

Father and mother left 1. me plenty of books,
Fields and gardens—I long now for nothing more.

My wife works the shuttle—her loom goes creak! creak!
Our son is at play—his mouth babbles wa! wa!

Clapping my hands, I urge the flowers to dance;
Propping my chin, I listen to the birds sing.

Who can come and admire [this scene]?
The woodcutters always pass by. 2.

Reading hsü in the sense of bequeath. Ch'en Hui-chien( Han-shan‐ tzu, p. 180) suggests emending this to tu, "read," which would give, "Father and mother read lots of books."
"Woodcutters" are commonly associated with natural simplicity and purity in Chinese poems and with the life of the recluse.Along with fishermen and shepherds, they also commonly adopt and raise young heroes in legends and myths. On the latter, see, for example, Henricks, "The Hero Pattern and the Life of Confucius"( Journal of Chinese Studies 1: 3 ( October 1984): 241-260). For some interesting observations on the woodcutter and the fisherman as central figures in the Chinese pastoral idyll, see J. I. Crump , Songs From Xanadu: Studies in Mongol-Dynasty Song-Poetry (San-ch'ü) ( Ann Arbor, MI: Center for Chinese Studies, 1983), Chapter 4, " Tales by Woodsman for the Fisher's Ear," pp. 81-103.


No. 16

My house is placed beneath verdant cliffs;
The weeds in my courtyard I don't cut anymore.

Fresh wistaria hangs down twisting in loops,
Ancient boulders rise up lofty and steep.

Mountain fruits—the monkeys pick;
Fish in the pond—the egrets hold in their bills.

And I with my immortality books 1., one or two scrolls,
Sit 'neath a tree and read—mumble mumble.

I.e., books on alchemical potions and the like.


No. 17

The four seasons move on without stop or rest;
When one year is gone, again a new year arrives.

The ten thousand things have new life succeeding the old;
The nine heavens are without destruction and decay. 1.

When there's light in the East, there's also dark in the West;
And when petals fall, again the flowers will bloom.

It's only the traveller in the Yellow Springs;
Who goes into dark gloom and doesn't return.

One of the earliest and most common Chinese views of the cosmos is one in which there are nine heavens, one in the center of the sky and one in each of the eight directions surrounding the center.

Comment: Alternation and succession, described openly in the first couplet and denied for man in the last, are reinforced in the first three couplets by the words used in the third—i.e., the pivotal—position in each line.In the first two couplets we have wu (without) and yu (again, or another), followed by yu (have) and wu (have not). Since yu and wu are also translated by being and non-being, we also have the transition from non‐ being to being and being to non-being. Again, key words occur in the third position in the third couplet—yu (my "also" in the translation) and fu (repeat, reoccur).

In the realm of nature, plants and flowers die but come back to life; in the heavens life is eternal—there is no destruction or decay. In time, night is succeeded by day. It is only man who dies and does not return to life.


No. 18

Last year is gone, and I trade in a year full of sorrow;
But spring has come, and the colors of things are all fresh and new.

Mountain blossoms giggle at sparkling streams,
While trees 1. on the cliff sway in mists of green.

Butterflies and bees [with their fluttering and buzzing] in their own way speak of their joy;
Even more delightful the fish and the birds!

Rambling with friends, my emotion's not yet spent,
And 'til dawn I can't get to sleep.

Reading the variant of shu (tree) for hsiu (cave, peak).


No. 19

Your handwriting might be too dramatic and flowing; 1.
And in stature—you might be extremely large and tall. 2.

Still alive, you'll be a person with limitations,
And dead, you'll be a ghost with no name.

From of old, like this there've been many;
For you to fight it now, what good would that do?

But you can come join me in the white clouds,
Where I'll teach you the 'purple fungus' song. 3.

Literally, "too vertical and horizontal" (t'ai tsung-heng). Here this is apparently a compliment; his handwriting is dramatically expressive with large, broad strokes.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 45) think it is relevant here that the four things considered when hiring officials in the T'ang were appearance, handwriting, speaking ability, and judgment.For more on these four traits, see poem 113 and its notes.
Tzu-chih, "purple fungus," is one of the drugs of long life.It is identified as Ganoderman japonicum in Shiu-ying Hu, An Enumeration of Chinese Materia Medica ( Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1980), p. 151. About it, the Shen Nung pen-ts'ao ching (1.23a) (Ssu-pu pei-yao edition) says: "It protects the body, benefits essence and breath, strengthens muscles and bones, and improves your complexion.If you eat it for a long time, your body becomes light, you do not age, and it lengthens your years."


No. 20

If you wish to find a place where you can rest,
Han-shan for long can keep you secure.

A slight breeze blows through secluded pines;
The closer you get the better it sounds.

Underneath is a man with graying hair;
Mumble mumble—he reads Huang and Lao. 1.

Ten years he's been unable to return;
He's forgotten the road he used when he came.

The books of Huang-ti (the Yellow Emperor) and Lao-tzu—i.e., texts dealing with Taoist practices of long life.


No. 21

Dashing, heroic the lad on the horse;
Waving his whip he points to the green willow. 1.

He says he will never die;
To the end not take a hazardous trip. 2.

Through the seasons the flowers delight in themselves,
Yet one morning they wither and fade.

Clarified butter and crystalline sugar; 3.
These 'til death he'll be unable to taste.

The "willows" can mean the red-light district of town—where the prostitutes live.That would fit in with this theme. On young men on horses with whips in their hands as a common yüeh-fu theme, see the comment to poem 47.
Literally, not "scale or sail" (t'i-hang), a stock expression for making a distant and dangerous journey over mountain and sea.
On "clarified butter" as a metaphor for Buddha-nature, see the Nirvāṇa-sūtra, chüan 14 (Chapter 7:4, "Sheng-hsing p'in"; T. 374, Vol. 12, p. 449 top). It is the essence of milk, and Buddha-nature is the essence of Buddha's teachings. "Crystalline sugar," literally "stone honey" (shih-mi) is likewise the essence of sugar juice, arrived at by boiling it down.In chüan 8 of the Nirvāna-sūtra (T. 375, Vol. 12, p. 650 top), the Mahāyāna scriptures are compared to shih-mi, which, when swallowed, is either medicine or poison depending on whether or not it is digested.For the stupid who do not know about Buddha-nature, the Vaipulya scriptures are poison when ingested.For shih-mi, Read( Chinese Medicinal Plants, p. 251 [item 756B]) has "refined sugar." Also see Schafer, The Golden Peaches of Samarkand, ( Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1963), pp. 152-154, who explains that shih-mi were lumps of sugar formed in various shapes and eaten as candy in the Tang.


No. 22

There is a master who eats the pink clouds; 1.
His abode shuns the haunts of the common.

As for the seasons—truly crisp and cool;
In summer it's just like the fall.

Secluded brooks—a constant gurgle and splash;
Through tall pines the wind sighs and moans.

In here if you sit half a day,
You'll forget the cares of one hundred years. 2.

No doubt this is a self-styled name Han-shan gives himself.The pink clouds of morning are filled with Yang.Taoists often did their breath-ing exercises at dawn because the air at that time was charged with life.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 48) see a possible allusion in this last line to poem no. 15 in the " Nineteen Old Poems." That poem opens with the lines "Man's years fall short of a hundred; a thousand years of worry crowd his heart" (translated by Burton Watson, Chinese Lyricism, p. 29; Wen-hsüan 29: 7a, p. 400.) These lines are more directly related to poem 135.


No. 23

It's in Han-tan that I live, 1.
And the sound of my song, melodically rises and falls.

Since I securely live in this place,
These songs I've known quite well from of old.

When you get drunk, never say "going home"; 2.
Linger and tarry—the sun's not yet down.

In my house there's a place you can sleep for the night;
Embroidered quilts fill my silver bed.

Han-tan was the capital of the state of Chao in ancient times and famous for its taverns and beautiful sing-song girls.Obviously, one of those girls is singing this song.
In song 298 of the Shih (p. 79), the officers drinking at court do go home when they are drunk. Bernhard Karlgren( The Book of Poetry, p. 254) translates the relevant line: "Well-fed, well-fed, well-fed, are the teams of stallions; morning and evening they are in the palace; in the palace they drink wine; ... when drunk they will go home; they go to rejoice together."

Note: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 49) note the resemblance of this poem to a number of yüeh-fu ballads—e.g., Shen Yüeh's ( 441-513) "The Sun Comes up in the Southeast"( Yüeh-fu shih-chi, Ch. 28, p. 420). There is also a striking resemblance to poem 5 in Juan Chi's ( 210-263) " Yung-huai shih."


No. 24

You may quickly paddle your three-winged boat; 1.
Be good at riding your thousand-li horse. 2.

But you'll never be able get to my home;
Which is to say, where I live is most wild and remote. 3.

A cave on a cliff, in the midst of a deep range of peaks;
Clouds and thunder, descending all day long.

If you're not a Master K'ung Ch'iu; 4.
You don't have the talent for saving others! 5.

A "three-winged boat" (san-i chou) is a boat used in battle, noted for being light but strong.
That is, a horse that can travel a thousand li (1 li = ⅓ mile) in one day.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 51) have a long note on yu‐ yeh, "remote and wild," drawing attention to the fact that yeh is a term that Confucius often contrasts with "culture" or "cultivated" (wen) (see, for example, Lun-yü 6: 18, p. 10). At first glance, this seems overdone, but there is another possible "Confucian" allusion in the next couplet—in I ching, Hexagram 3 (p. 4), under the image, we read "clouds and thunder collect; the gentleman in this way establishes his principles and policies to govern." Wilhelm ( The I Ching, p. 17) translates: "Clouds and Thunder: The image of difficulties at the beginning.Thus the superior man brings order out of confusion." All of this seems relevant when we read the last couplet where Han-shan contrasts himself with Confucius.
I.e., Confucius.
And so I live here and not in the world—i.e., I am not a Confucius.


No. 25

As for the wise, you reject me;
As for the stupid, I reject you!

But since I'm neither stupid nor wise, 1.
From this moment on, let's hear no more from one another.

With the night, I sing at the bright moon;
With dawn, I dance on white clouds.

How can I fold my hands and keep my mouth shut,
And stiffly sit still, with my temple hair tumbling down? 2.

That is to say, I fall into neither of these groups.
I.e., he is too overcome with joy.

Note: The relationship between the first four lines and the second four lines seems to be that Han-shan prefers to get out of society where distinctions like "wise" and "stupid" are made and enjoy himself in the realm of nature.


No. 26 †

There is a bird striped with the five shades;
She perches in the Kolanut tree and eats the fruit of bamboo. 1.

Gracefully she moves, in accord with the proper and right;
Harmoniously she sings, with exact pitch and tone.

Yesterday she came—why has she arrived?
It's for me 2. she has for the moment appeared.

If you hear the sound of string and voice,
You should dance and delight in today. 3.

For t'ung (paulownia), see Bernard Read, Chinese Medicinal Plants, p. 26 (item 103). But Ch'en Hui-chien ( Han-shan-tzu, p. 261) understands our bird to be the phoenix (feng) and the tree the wu-t'ung, which would make it the Kolanut, according to Read( Chinese Medicinal Plants, p. 78, item 272).
There is a variant of chün for wu, which would change the meaning to "It's for you."
Analects 17:3 (p. 35) records an anecdote in which Confucius seems to think that Tzu-yu is wasting his time instructing the inhabitants of Wuch'eng in music.The anecdote ( D. C. Lau, translator, Confucius: The Analects [ New York: Penguin, 1979] p. 143 [as 17:4]) reads: "The Master went to Wu Ch'eng.There he heard the sound of stringed instruments and singing. The Master broke into a smile and said, 'Surely you don't need to use an ox-knife to kill a chicken.' Tzu-yu answered, 'Some time ago I heard it from you, Master, that the gentleman instructed in the Way loves his fellow men and that the small man instructed in the Way is easy to command.' the Master said, 'My friends, what Yen says is right.My remark a moment ago was only made in jest."'

Missing from the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō Library editions.

Comment: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi , p. 334), like Ch'en Hui‐ chien, feel that the bird referred to in the opening lines is the Phoenix, harbinger of an age of great peace. They see in Han- shan's poem, however, a Buddhist use of this theme: the phoenix here signals a time and place where one can become enlightened, can become a Buddha.


No. 27

A thatched hut, the place where a rustic lives;
In front of his gate, horses and carts are few. 1.

The woods are secluded and dark—'specially suited for birds to collect;
The valley streams, wide and broad—from the beginning meant to hold fish.

Mountain fruits, hand in hand my son and I pick;
Marshy fields, together with my wife I plow.

And in our house what do you find?
Nothing more than a bed full of books. 2.

See note 1 to poem 3 above.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 54) note the association of "a bed full of books" ( i-ch'uang shu) with retired scholars in a poem by Yü Hsin ( 513-581) as well.But this is not necessarily an allusion.


No. 28

Climb up! Ascend! The way to Han-shan;
But on Han-shan the roads never end.

The valleys are long, with boulders in heaps and piles;
The streams are wide, with grasses both wet and damp.

The moss is slippery—it has nothing to do with the rain;
The pines sigh and moan, but they don't rely on the wind.

Who can transcend the cares of the world,
And sit with me in the white clouds?

Comment: On normal mountains the roads eventually end; but Han‐ shan is climbing the spiritual mountain.In the Zen sense, if you follow a set "way" (reading sutras, meditating, worshipping images), you'll never get to the "top." But if, in a flash, you "transcend the cares of the world," then, like Han-shan in the last line, you'll be on top, surrounded by the white clouds.This is a "regulated verse" poem: note how the inner couplets are strictly parallel.The tonal sequence is as follows: (P = level tone; T = deflected): (1) PTPPT, (2) PPTTP, (3) PPTTT, (4) TTTPP, (5) PTPPT, (6) PPTTP, (7) PPPTT, (8) TTTPP.


No. 29

The six extremities 1. constantly hem them in;
The nine rules [of conduct] 2.—in vain do they discuss them 'mongst themselves.

Those with talent are discarded in the grasses and swamps, 3.
While those who are artless are locked in by their bramble doors. 4.

Though the sun rises, their cliffs are still dark;
Though the fog lifts, their valleys remain in a haze.

In their midst, the sons of great, wealthy men
Are, each one, completely without any pants. 5.

The "six extremities" are illness, anxiety, poverty, evil, weakness, and to die young through misfortune.
On the "nine rules" (or nine principles—chiu-wei), Ch'en Hui‐ chien( Han-shan-tzu, p. 181) understands these to be the "nine virtues," of which there are various lists (things such as loyalty, sincerity, respect, gentleness, pleasantness). Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 56-57), on the other hand, feel the nine wei are connected to the nine divisions of the "Great Plan" (hung-fan) as they are described in the Shu (Book of Documents). They are described in the "Hung-fan" of the Shu as follows (translated by Bernhard Karlgren, The Book of Documents [ Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Bulletin 22, 1950], p. 30): "Heaven then gave Yü the Great Plan in nine sections, whereby the constant norms get their proper order.The first is called the five elements; the second is called to bring forth and use the five conducts; the third is called energetically to use the eight rules of government; the fourth is called to harmonize and use the five regulators; the fifth is called to establish and use the august correctness; the sixth is called to regulate and use the three virtues; the seventh is called elucidatingly to use the determinators of doubt; the eighth is called thoughtfully to use all the verifications; the ninth is called enjoyingly to use the five felicities and with due awe to accept the six extremities."
I.e., they are not used at court and possibly exiled.
"Bramble door" (p'eng-men) is code for the life of the poor scholar.
In Chapter 4 of the Lotus-sūtra ("Hsin-chieh p'in"; T. 262, Vol. 9, p. 16, middle, 17 bottom) the Buddha is compared to a great man (or simply elder—hang-che) who turns over all his wealth to his prodigal son, a man who had lived a destitute life, having left his father at a young age.Thus, great treasures await all believers who return to the Buddha and recognize him as their true kin.For a translation of the story in question, see Leon Hurvitz , translator, Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma (The Lotus Sutra) ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), pp. 84-100.

Comment: Given the nature of the allusion in the last couplet, it seems dear that Han-shan's point throughout is the poor lot, in the end, of those who fail to embrace the Buddhist faith.They remain in the dark, even though the sun (of wisdom) has already risen.


No. 30

White clouds soar high over jagged peaks;
The green water rolls back and forth in deep waves.

In this place I hear an old fisherman; 1.
Time after time he beats out his boat-songs.

Note after note—I can't bear to listen;
It makes me have many sad thoughts.

"Who says the sparrow has no beak;
How else could it bore through my walls?"2.

An allusion to "The Fisherman" (Yü-fu) in the Ch'u Tz'u ( Hawkes, The Songs of the South, pp. 206-207), where an old fisherman chides Ch'ü Yüan for his inability to change with the times and serve or not serve ac-cordingly.
A direct quote from the Shih, No. 17. The full verse reads: "Who says that the sparrow has no beak? By aid of what else could it break through into my house? Who says that you have no family? By aid of what else could you urge on me a lawsuit? But though you urge on me a lawsuit, your family will not suffice" ( Bernhard Karlgren, translator, The Book of Odes, [ Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 1950], p. 10). Karlgren takes the singer to be a young lady being forced to wed, and the sparrow stands for the man's influential family. Arthur Waley( The Book of Songs, [ New York: Grove, 1937] pp. 63-65), on the other hand, feels our singer is a young man being sued by a girl who represents herself as having no family.

Comment: Han- shan's point might be that although the fisherman's songs should not cause these emotions, they do (this seems to be Watson's interpretation). However, Ch'en Hui- chien's ( Han- shan- tzu , p. 175) interpretation is that the allusion to the Shih simply stands for thinking of home. The sparrow does have a beak, and thus it can build its nest for its family in my wall. But Han- shan has gone into retirement alone— cut off from family and friends. Perhaps the fisherman's songs make him sad because he too (like Ch'ü Yüan) has not followed the old fisherman's advice; could he adjust to the times, he might still be at home.


No. 31

Dark and obscure— the way to Han- shan;
Far apart— the shores of the cold mountain stream.

Chirp, chirp— constantly there are the birds;
Silent and still— in addition there are no men.

Whisper, whisper— the wind blows in my face;
Whirling and swirling— the snow piles up all around.

Day after day— I don't see the sun;
And year after year— I've known no spring.

Comment: A very unique poem in that Han- shan begins every line with a descriptive binome. The only thing similar in earlier works is poem 2 in the "Nineteen Old Poems" of the Han, where six of ten lines begin in this way. In a later poem (No. 147), Han- shan ends every line with a descriptive binome. I append romanization ( Wade- Giles system) of the poem for the reader to see, highlighting the descriptive binomes.

Yao-yao Han-shan tao;
Lo-lo leng-chien pin.

Chiu-chiu ch'ang yu niao;
Chi-chi keng wu jen.

Ch'i-ch'i feng ch'ui mien;
Fen-fen hsüeh chi shen.

Chao-chao pu-chien jih;
Sui- sui pu- hih ch'un.


No. 32

Those of young years—what do they worry about?
They worry about seeing their temple hair turn gray.

And when it turns gray, what then do they worry about?
They worry about seeing the days dosing in.

And then they'll be moved to live facing Mount T'ai; 1.
Or exiled, to maintain their homes on Pei-mang. 2.

How can I bear to speak these words?
These words that bring pain to the old.

Mount T'ai—though our text uses the alternate name of Tai—in Shantung was the Eastern sacred peak in China.In popular belief it was the abode of the supreme ruler of all spirits in a terrestrial bureaucracy, who reported only to the Jade Emperor on high.He kept all records of birth and death. See, for example, Henri Maspero (translated from the French by Frank Kierman), Taoism and Chinese Religion ( Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981), pp. 102-104.
Pei-mang was the hill north of Lo-yang where royalty and nobility were buried. Mount T'ai and Pei-mang are parallel expressions in the Chinese—literally, the text says "Eastern Tai" and "Northern Mang."


No. 33

I've heard it said that sorrows are hard to dispel;
These words, I've said, are not true.

Yet yesterday morn I drove them away, 1.
And today I'm encumbered again.

The month comes to an end, but my sorrow doesn't end;
The year starts afresh, but my sorrows are also renewed.

Who is to know that under this cap of cane 2.
There is fundamentally a man who's been sad a very long time.

There is a variant of shih, "start," for ts'eng, indicator of past tense, that would make the line read: "Yet yesterday morn I started to drive them away."
A hsi-mao was a cap worn by commoners in the T'ang and Sung— gentlemen who had not yet achieved any rank.


No. 34

Two tortoises riding a cart drawn by a young ox
Suddenly came out at the road-head to play.

A scorpion 1. came over from one side;
Weary to death, he wanted to ask them to give him a ride.

Not to carry him would go against human feelings,
But as soon as they took him on, they sank down under the weight.

In the snap of your fingers—indescribably short;
They extended their kindness and proceeded right then to get stung!

Reading the variant of ch'an, "scorpion," for ku, a wicked kind of poison.

Note: Ch'en Hui-chien (Han-shan-tzu, p. 275) feels that this story alludes to something in the Buddhist scriptures, but he cannot determine the source.Iritani and Matsumura offer no explanation.It might be that Hanshan's point is simply to draw attention to the fact that we often end up being harmed when, with the best intentions, we try to help others.However, Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 21) sees the poem as an allegory in which the two tortoises stand for wisdom and meditation, and the scorpion is kleśa. The point of the story, then, is that if one is not firm in carrying out one's vows, he can be brought to ruin from something outside (i.e., kleśa). As it turns out, Hakuin, in his commentary on this poem ( Kanzan shi sendai kibun, 1: 34-35), also makes these associations, elaborating that the poem illustrates the problem of an early stage bodhisattva, indicated by the fact that the tortoises are riding a cart drawn by a young ox (tu), a bodhisattva whose "roots" are not yet developed and whose strength to carry out his vows is therefore weak.


No. 35

In the third month with silkworms still small,
Young girls come to gather the blooms.

By a bend in the wall they chase butterflies;
Approaching the stream, they toss stones at the frogs.

Their silken sleeves chocked full of plums;
With hairpins of gold 1., they dig out shoots of bamboo.

Noisily they debate the many spring colors and hues;
"This place is better than home!"2.

A chin p'i is a hair ornament in the shape of a small knife.They were used by Indian doctors to scrape the eyes of people with eye disease.
There is a variant of shih, "is," for sheng, "superior to, better than"—i.e., "This place is truly our home."


No. 36

In the house to the east there lives an old broad
Who's been wealthy now four or five years. 1.

In former days she was poorer than me;
Now she laughs at my lack of coins.

She laughs at me for being behind;
While I laugh at her for being ahead. 2.

If we don't stop laughing at each other,
The east will again be the west.

The text literally says "three or five" years.
The "behind" (hou) and "ahead" (ch'ien) might also be read in a temporal sense—i.e., her laughing at me was done after [she became rich], while my laughing at her was done [even] before.


No. 37

Rich kids are stingy as can be 1.;
Whatever might come their way, they find it difficult to accept with respect.

Their granary rice might be bright red, 2.
But they won't lend others a peck or a pint.

They turn over in their minds their twisted and devious schemes;
Before buying raw silk, they've already picked out brocades.

But when their end days draw near
For mourners they'll have bluebottle flies. 3.

Ch'en Hui-chien( Han-shan-tzu, p. 233) understands yang-chang as pu-jen, "not benevolent." The expression literally means "haltered hands."
i.e., it is rotting—rice changes color when it spoils.
They will have no friends. See note 2 to poem 8 on bluebottle flies as mourners in the biography of Yü Fan.


No. 38 **

I once observed a wise gentleman,
Broad in knowledge, noble in spirit—he was simply without compare.

No sooner selected for office than his fine reputation spread throughout the whole land;
His five-character poetic lines surpassed those of all other men. 1.

As an official, he governed and transformed, excelling his seniors in age;
His conduct, right and correct, could not be maintained by the young coming on.

Yet all of a sudden, he coveted wealth and rank and riches and women;
When the tiles are broken and the ice melted, you can't set them out on display. 2.

Seven-character lines.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 68) remind us that composition of five-character poems was part of the civil service examination system during the T'ang.
"Ping-hsiao wa-chieh" (ice melted; tiles broken) is a well-known, four-character phrase indicating that something is totally ruined—in this case, the character of the scholar-official.


No. 39

A white crane with bitter peach in his bill
Went one thousand li, stopping to rest only once.

Wishing to go to P'eng-lai,
He took this along as his food.

Before he arrived, his feathers faded and fell;
Apart from the flock, his heart was anguished and sad.

He retreated, returned to the nest from whence he had come,
But his wife and his child no longer recognized him. 1.

For a similar theme, see poem 134.

Comment: This poem weaves together three different things: First, that the poem is essentially about the Taoist quest for immortality is indicated not only by the fact that this is a crane in flight, but also by the fact that his goal is a Taoist locus of immortals, the isle of P'eng- lai in the East, and for his food he takes along a peach, a fruit commonly associated with immortals and gods. That this is a "bitter peach" ( k'u- t'ao ) seems to indicate Hanshan's recognition of this quest as a difficult, perhaps unpleasant one. Second, the crane's quest seems to stand for Han- shan's own quest, and in poem 134 we read that Han- shan too became homesick for friends and kin, but going home found his wife no longer recognized him. Thus the poem seems to reflect Han- shan's own circumstances. Finally, elements of an old yüeh- fu song by the name of "Yen- ko ho- ch'ang- hsing," which has the alternate title of "Fei- hu hsing" (and in some texts the hu is a ho —a crane) also seem to find their way into this poem (for the "Yen- ko ho- ch'ang- hsing," see Yüeh- fu shih- chi 39: 14, pp. 576- 577). The first part of that song describes a pair of swans flying from the northwest, but as they fly the female becomes ill. The male addresses her, saying, "I want to carry you in my bill, but my mouth is closed, and I can't get it open; I want to carry you on my back, but my feathers— how broken and in ruins are they." In the second part of the song, a woman addresses her husband, who is about to go on a distant journey (off to war), and points out that "on distant roads returning is difficult"; "I must [alone] maintain empty rooms."


No. 40

Accustomed to living in a secluded, retired spot,
Suddenly I head off to the heart of Kuo-ch'ing. 1.

On occasion I visit with Old Feng Kan, 2.
And as before come to see Master Shih. 3.

Alone I return and climb up Cold Cliffs,
Where there is no one to talk with about the unity of things. 4.

I seek out, explore the "sourceless stream";
The source might be exhausted but the stream is not. 5.

Kuo-ch'ing Temple was founded by Chih I in 598. It was located 10 li north of T'ien-t'ai county seat, on the south side of the southern peaks of the T'ien-t'ai range.
Preferring the variant lao to tao ("path") because of the parallel with the next line.But Ch'en Hui-chien( Han-shan-tzu, p. 192) glosses "Feng-kan tao," noting that to the north of T'ien-t'ai county seat, on the way to Kuo-ch'ing, there was a Ch'ih-ch'eng-shan ( Mount Red City) which was frequented by Feng-kan.
Shih-te, that is.
Ch'en Hui-chien( Han-shan-tzu, p. 192) might be right in arguing that ho-t'ung is used in a technical Buddhist sense equivalent to p'ing-teng (sama or samatā), "unity" or "equality."
That is to say, one might discover the source—"exhaust" (chin) it in that way—but the truth that flows from that source will never be exhausted (also chin).


No. 41

If before this birth you were awfully stupid and dumb,
You won't be enlightened today. 1.

If today you are terribly poor,
It's all brought on by what you did in your previous life. 2.

If in this birth you again do not practice; 3.
In the next you'll still be as before.

Neither shore has a boat; 4.
Vast and wide—[the stream] is difficult to cross.

In the Zen sense—I think—of instantaneous enlightenment, "right this minute," but it can as well mean "this lifetime."
The causal relationship (karma) of this life and the one before seems to be conveyed literarily in the opening four lines by moving from sheng-ch'ien, "before this birth" to ch'ien-sheng, "previous life," and having two chin-jih "today" lines between.
Do not practice the Buddhist way—that is, hsiu.
The opposition of shores here made explicit,—saṁsāra and nirvāṇa, but also this life and the last, or next—seems to be prefigured in the opposition of the lines in the first three couplets: before/today, today/before, this birth/the next. The "boat" would be specific teachings or practices that would lead one to nirvāṇa, and in Zen there is no such thing. Han-shan might be developing the metaphor of the boat that carries sentient beings between the two shores, as it is described in chüan 9 of the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (T. 375, Vol. 12, p. 662 top).


No. 42

Dazzling and sparkling, the Lu family girl;
Right from the start she was named "Never Grieve." 1.

She loved to ride her flower-plucking horse;
Delighted in paddling her lotus—gathering boat.

Kneeling, she sat on a green-bear mat; 2.
On her shoulders wore blue-phoenix furs. 3.

How sad! That within one hundred years
She couldn't avoid returning to the mountains and hills. 4.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 73) note two traditions concerning a Mo-ch'ou (never grieve). To begin with, there is a "Mo-ch'ou yüeh" in Yüeh-fu shih-chi 48:5 (p. 698), a song associated with a singing girl from Shih-ch'eng by the name of Mo-ch'ou.But the other tradition—and the one seemingly relevant here—concerns a girl from Lo-yang, who is celebrated in a poem attributed to Liang Wu-ti (r. 502-549). That poem is entitled "Ho-chung chih-shui" (The Water in the River) and goes like this (for the text, see Ting Fu-pao, ed., Ch'üan Han, san-kuo ... shih, Vol. 2, p. 857):

The water in the river flows to the East;
The girl from Loyang was named Mo-ch'ou.
When Mo-ch'ou was thirteen, she could weave finest silk;
When fourteen, she gathered the mulberry at the head of the Southern raised path.
At fifteen she was married—the wife of Mr.Lu,
At sixteen gave birth to a son called A-hou.
The Lu home had orchid rooms with cassia beams.
Inside the fragrances of wild tumeric and storax.
On her head golden hairpins in twelve strands.
On her feet silken slippers embroidered in the five shades.
Coral hangs from her mirror— so dazzling it produces a glare;
Servants even in height carry her slipper box.
When your life is filled with riches and rank— what more is there to hope for?
She only regrets she'd not been earlier married to the king of the East.

On the "green bear mat," see Hsi-ching tsa-chi 1: 5a( Ku-chin i-shih, Vol. 12). Emperor Ch'eng of the Han's beloved concubine, Chao Ho-te (younger sister of the notorious beauty Chao Fei-yen) had one with fur over two feet thick, and when she sat on it, her knees disappeared.The fragrance was such that if you sat on it, the smell lingered on for one hundred days.
Read( Chinese Materia Medica: ... Avian Drugs, pp. 41-42, item 272) relates the "blue-phoenix" (ch'ing-feng) to the Manchurian Snow Pheasant. King Chao of the Chou (r. 1052-1000 B. C.) reportedly made two furs from the feathers of a blue phoenix.See Shih-i chi 2: 9a( Ku-chin i-shih, Vol. 5).
A nice way of saying she died.


No. 43

In Ti-yen 1. Master Tsou's wife;
In Han-tan the mother of one Mr.Tu. 2.

These two were the same in age,
And of the same kind their good looks.

Yet yesterday they met at a party,
[And the one with] ugly clothes was consigned to the back of the hall. 3.

All because she wore a worn-out skirt;
She got to eat others' leftover biscuits and cakes!

Ti-yen would appear to be a place name, given the parallel with the following line, but its location remains unknown. On this point, see Ch'en Hui-chien, Han-shan-tzu p. 251, and Iritani and Matsumura, Kanzanshi, pp.74-75.
The two women in question are otherwise unknown.
What I translate "good looks" in Chinese is hao mien-shou, and a mien-shou is what the Chinese call a "male concubine"—that is to say, a catamite, a boy used for pederasty.But that the women "delighted" in male concubines does not seem to go with the rest of the poem.

Comment: There is nothing in the Chinese ("ugly clothes— lined up at the back") of line 6 to indicate that a distinction is being made between the two women. But the emphasis of the previous couplet, stressing as it does that the two were the same in age and looks, makes good sense if a contrast is now being made. (I am indebted to Wen An- p'ing of the Stanford Center in Taipei for this suggestion.) But I may be wrong. And Hakuin ( Kanzanshi sendai kibun , 1: 41) does cite an intriguing anecdote from the Ta- chih- tu lun (Ch. 14, T. 1509, Vol. 25, p. 165 top) as something that may serve as background for what we find here. That we should love merit and not our "selves" and see that good things happen because of our merit, not what our "selves" are or do, is illustrated with the following example.

It's like the case of some Hinayana monks from Kashmir, practicing the āra ṇ ya (forest dweller) dharma arriving at the Temple of the One King (or the temple of a king[?], i- wang ssu ), where the temple is putting on a great feast. When the gatekeeper sees that their clothes are all dusty and worn, he will block the door and not let them advance. They might try this a number of times, but each time, because their clothes are all worn, they will be unable to advance. But then if, as an expedient means, they come back having borrowed good clothes, the doorman will see them and obey, and they can go forward without restraint. Having arrived at the feast, they will sit down and get many different kinds of good things to eat. But they will first give some food to their clothes. At which point the crowd of people will ask, "Why did you do that?" And they will reply, "We came a number of times, and each time we were unable to enter. Now it's because of our clothes that we are able to sit here and get these good things to eat. Truly, it is because of our clothes that we can get them. Therefore, we offer the food to our clothes."


No. 44

Alone I sleep at the foot of layers of cliffs;
The vapor and clouds through the day don't disperse.

Though my room is filled with dark and gloom,
In my mind I'm cut off from the clatter and noise.

In my dreams I go off to wander at the Golden Gates; 1.
As my soul returns, it crosses Stone Bridge. 2.

I have abandoned that which agitates me;
Clatter and clunk goes the gourd in the tree. 3.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 76) identify the "Golden Gates" (chin-ch'üeh) with the T'ien-t'ai peaks "Twin Gates" (shuang-ch'üeh) mentioned by Sun Ch'o (c. 310-397) in his "Rhapsody on Roaming on T'ien-t'ai" ( Yu T'ien-t'ai fu, Wen-hsüan 11: 7b, p. 149). For a translation of the relevant lines, see Burton Watson, Chinese Rhyme-Prose, p. 83 ("double gates"). Also see Richard B. Mather, " The Mystical Ascent of the T'ient'ai Mountains: Sun Ch'o's Yu-T'ien-T'ai-Shan Fu," Monumenta Serica 20 ( 1961): 241 text and note 91. The Golden Gates also mark the entrance to one of the Taoist heavens—they lead into the palaces of Shang-ch'ing (Supreme Purity). And one of the names of the ruler expected to descend from the skies in the apocalyptic hopes of the Shang-ch'ing sect of Taoism was "The Sage Who is to Come of the Golden Gates of Shang-ch'ing." See Michel Strickmann , Le Taoisme du Mao Chan ( Paris: College de France, 1981), p. 209ff.
Richard Mather (above, p. 239, notes 71-74) translates Ku K'ai‐ chih's comment on the "Stone Bridge" (shih-ch'iao): "On the Stone Bridge of the T'ien-t'ai Mountains the path is not a full foot in width but several tens of paces long; every step is extremely slippery, while below it looks down on the Utter Darkness Stream" (for the text, see the notes to Sun Ch'o's fu in Wen-hsüan 11: 6b, p. 148.)
For the story behind this, see the I-shih chuan. Hsü Yu, having retired, used his hands to drink until someone gave him a gourd, which, when he had finished using, he hung on a tree. Whenever the wind blew, it "clattered and clunked"; since it bothered him, he threw it away.


No. 45

Now all things have their use,
And in using them, each has what is fit.

If in using something, you use what is out of place,
It will be totally lacking, and what's more, completely deficient.

A round chisel with a square handle;
How sad! In vain it was made. 1.

To use Hua-liu to catch mice
Can't compare with using a lame cat! 2.

The "round chisel with the square handle" was a known metaphor in early China for things that do not fit.It is alluded to in a number of texts. For example, in the Ch'u-tz'u (" Chiu-pien," 8: 7b-8a [p. 79] in SPPY ed.), we find the lines: "If you take a square handle to use on a round chisel, I am certain it will not fit, and you will not make it go in" ( David Hawkes , translator, The Songs of the South[ London: Penguin], p. 212.) Also, in the Chuang-tzu, Chapter 33 (p. 93, line 76), one of the paradoxical sayings attributed to the sophist Hui-shih is: "Holes for chisel handles do not surround the handles" ( Burton Watson, trans., The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu [ New York: Columbia University Press], pp. 75-76.)
Hua-liu was one of eight prized steeds that belonged to King Mu of the Chou (r. 1001-946 B. C.). Han-shan alludes to a line in Chuang-tzu, Chapter 17 (p. 43, line 36). Watson( The Complete Works, p. 180) translates: "Thoroughbreds like Ch'i-chi and Hua-liu could gallop a thousand li in one day, but when it came to catching rats they were no match for the wildcat or the weasel—this refers to a difference in skill."

Comment: The point of this observation seems to be the good Taoist point of the relativity of values. We have fixed ideas about what is good and bad: we all categorically prefer a prized horse to a lame cat. But good and bad depend on one's situation.


No. 46

Who is it that lives forever and doesn't die?
The business of death, from the beginning has treated us all the same.

No sooner do you start to remember your tall eight-foot man,
Than all of a sudden he turns into a pile of dust!

The Yellow Springs1. has no sun of dawn,
But the green grasses have their seasonal spring.

When I walk to this place that grieves my heart,
With the wind in the pines, the sorrow is enough to kill me.

The underworld; the place where souls go at death.


No. 47

Riding a bay—coral whip in his hand—
He charges through the streets of Lo-yang.

Smug and assured this beautiful youth;
He puts no stock in old age.

But the gray hair will surely appear;
Can that ruddy glow be maintained for long?

Take a look at that hill of Pei-mang; 1.
This is your Isle of P'eng-lai! 2.

The royal cemetery north of the capital at Lo-yang.
One of the isles of the immortals in the Eastern sea.

Comment: The final couplet is open to a number of interpretations, but I think the point is that though you might hope to live forever with the immortals on P'eng-lai, the cemetery is where you will "live" forever.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 80) point out the many yüeh-fu themes we find in this poem. "Tzu-liu ma" (Black bay steed), for example, is a yüeh-fu title, and there are fifteen poems on this theme in the Yüeh-fu shih chi (Chapter 24, pp. 352-355), including one by Emperor Yüan of Liang (r. 552‐ 554), in which we find mention of the "coral whip" and the "beautiful youth." These expressions occur as well in a "Ch'ang-an shao-nien hsing" (A Song of the Youths of Ch'ang-an) by Ho Sun of the Liang in Yüeh-fu shih-chi 66 (p. 959). "Ch'ang-an shao-nien hsing" songs form a sub-category of "Shao-nien hsing" songs in the Yüeh-fu shih-chi (Chapter 66, pp. 953‐ 961). "Lo-yang tao" (The Streets of Lo-yang) songs form still another category in the Yüeh-fu shih-chi (Chapter 23, 20 shou, pp. 339-343).


No. 48

All day long, it's always just like you're drunk;
Passing years—never for a moment do they stay.

Buried, you'll lie beneath daisy fields,
Where the morning sun 1.—Oh, how dim and how dark!

When your bones and your flesh are dissolved, scattered and vanished,
Your hun and your p'o2. will then start to wither and fade.

Even if you had a mouth that could bite through steel,
You'd have no way to read the Lao-ching.3.

Reading the variant of jih ("sun") for yüeh ("moon"). Similar sentiments and words in poem 46 seem to corroborate this.
In modern folk belief the hun is the spiritual soul that transmigrates; the p'o is the physical soul that stays near the body in the grave, eventually fading away.
The Lao-tzu, the Tao-te ching.

Note: Ch'en Hui-chien's ( Han-shan-tzu, p. 199) reading of the last two lines—"If you end up with a bit of steel in your mouth [i.e., are reborn as a horse or a cowl; is it not because of your reading of the Huang-Lao texts?"—is enticing but not convincing.


No. 49

Once I sat down facing Han-shan; 1.
And I've lingered and tarried here now thirty years.

Yesterday I came looking for relatives and friends,
But more than half have gone to the Yellow Springs.

Gradually it diminishes, like the remnant of wax, 2.
And the long flow of life seems like a fast-moving river. 3.

This morning—I confront my lonely shadow;
Before I know it, my tears flow down in two streams.

Sat down (tso) to meditate, that is. One is reminded that Bodhidharma, the First Patriarch of Zen in China, is reported to have sat in med-itation facing a wall without moving for nine years.
The stub of the candle that gets smaller the longer the flame burns.
An allusion to the well-known words of Confucius in Analects 9: 17 (p. 16): "While standing by a river, the Master said, 'What passes away is, perhaps, like this.Day and night it never lets up"' (translation by D. C. Lau , Confucius: The Analects, p. 98.)


No. 50 †

They call to one another as they gather hibiscus; 1.
How delightful! The pure water in the stream.

Rambling and playing, unaware of the setting sun,
Time and again, they see the strong winds arise. 2.

The waves gently cup the young Mandarins,
While breakers toss and bob Tufted ducks. 3.

At this time they take shelter with their boat and oars;
Surging, overwhelming, their feelings never end. 4.

Similar to the opening line of poem 6 of the "Nineteen Old Poems"( Wen-hsüan 29: 4a, p. 398)—"I cross the river to gather the hibiscus"—where husband and wife, separated by a great distance, think of one another.
Note that the sun sets while the winds "come up" (ch'i), which starts the up and down motion of the waves found in the next couplet.
On hsi-chih as "Tufted Ducks," see Read, Chinese Materia Medica ... Avian Drugs, p. 259, item 260.
Hao-tang, "overwhelming," describes the surging movement of waves, but here it also describes the lovers' feelings.

Note: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 82-83) note a story about Hsüan-tsung of the T'ang (r. 712-756) with his lover Yang Kuei-fei on a summer outing to escape the heat, where the nü-kuan (female official in charge of concubines) sees Tufted Ducks bobbing on the water and compares them to the Mandarin ducks inside in bed.Mandarin ducks (yüan‐ yang) are stock symbols of conjugal bliss.

kissing from the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō Library editions.


No. 51

My mind is like the autumn moon;
An emerald lake—pure, clean, and bright.

There is nothing with which it compares;
Tell me, how can I explain?


No. 52

Drooping willows, dark, like mist and fog;
Wind-swept petals, whirling about like sleet. 1.

The husband resides in "Apart from Wife" Region;
The wife lives in "Thinking of my Husband" County.

Each dwells at Heaven's opposite shore; 2.
When will they once again meet?

I send this message to the shining moon tower;
Never take in a pair of flying swallows.

Hsien is "sleet," though snow seems a more apt image.
A line that occurs as well in poem 1 of the " Nineteen Old Poems," a poem also about separation, and presumably separation of lovers. Watson ( Chinese Lyricism, p. 20) translates the opening lines of that poem: "On and on, going on and on; away from you to live apart; ten thousand li and more between us; each at opposite ends of the sky.The road I travel is steep and long; who knows when we meet again?" (For the text, see Wen-hsüan 29: 1b-2a, p. 397.)

Comment: Ch'en Hui- chien ( Han- shan- tzu , p. 102) and Tseng P'u- hsin ( Han- shan shih- chieh , p. 31) both feel that the point of the final two lines is that the tower should not let mated swallows build a nest in it, since mated swallows would remind the poet of his/ her missing mate. Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi , p. 85) feel, however, that these words are intended to admonish the lonely wife not to take up with a new lover. Their interpretation is appealing. The tower is told not to chu , "store away or hoard" (secretly hide?) the flying swallows. Moreover, the tower (or pavilion— lou ) on which the bright moon shines is specifically associated with a lonely wife at home in a poem by Ts'ao Chih (poem 1 of his series "Ch'i- ai," Seven Sorrows, in Wen- hsüan 23: 15a p. 316). That poem, where the wife grieves for her lord who's been away on travels for more than ten years, begins: "The bright moon shines on a high tower... Upstairs is a wife with sad thoughts."


No. 53

When we have wine, let's hail each other to drink;
When we have meat, let's call on each other to eat.

We are men who, sooner or later, will end up in the Yellow Springs,
So while young and strong, we must exert all our strength.

Jade girdles only glitter awhile;
Hairpins of gold—not ornaments that will last for long.

Old Mr.Chang and old lady Cheng;
Once they were gone, there was no more news.

Comment: The question is, in what way should we exert all our strength? Does Han-shan have in mind Buddhist or Taoist ways to immortality that will help us to avoid death? The answer seems to be the carpe diem answer that we should enjoy ourselves while we can.That this is so seems confirmed by the fact that line 4 seems to allude to the yüeh-fu tune of "Ch'ang-ko hsing" ( Yüeh-fu shih-chi 30, p. 442). That song ends with the lines, "[The ten thousand things] always fear the arrival of fall; brown and yellow, the flowers and leaves decline.The one hundred rivers flow East to the sea; when will they return to the West? If when young and strong, you do not exert all your strength; when grown and old, in vain will you painfully pine."


No. 54

How delightful! That good man;
His build, awe-inspiring in the extreme!

In springs and autumns, not yet thirty,
But for talents and arts—one hundred kinds.

With bridle of gold, he chases 'round with the chivalrous knights; 1.
With serving vessels of jade, he gathers together with friends.

He has only one kind of fault;
He does not transmit the inexhaustible lamp! 2.

Kuo Mao-ch'ien's Yüeh-fu shih-chi (63, pp. 914-915) contains a song by Ts'ao Chih entitled "Pai-ma p'ien" (The White Horse), which also describes a young lad riding a horse with bridle of gold chasing around with the knights (hsia-k'o).
An allusion to the Vimalakīrti-sūtra, where in Chapter 4 (" P'u-sa p'in," T. 475, Vol. 14, p. 543 middle), Vimalakirti addresses a group of celestial maidens in the following way: "Vimalakirti said, 'Sisters, there is a dharma-theme named 'the inexhaustible lamp.' You should study it.The inexhaustible lamp is just like one lamp which ignites a hundred thousand lamps. The dark ones all become bright, and its brightness is never exhausted. Even so, sisters, one bodhisattva opens up and leads a hundred thousand living beings, bringing them to put forth the thought of supreme, perfect enlightenment, and his own thought of enlightenment is not quenched or used up. Following the Dharma preached, he increases all his own good dharmas.This is called 'the inexhaustible lamp"' (translated by Richard H. Robinson, " The Sutra of Vimalakirti's Preaching," unpublished manuscript, p. 15).


No. 55

Peach blossoms want to live through the summer,
But the wind and the moon press on—they won't wait.

You may look for men of Han times;
Not a single one still remains! 1.

Day by day blossoms alter and fall;
Year by year people transform and change.

Today where we kick up the dust
In olden times was the great sea. 2.

The phrase neng-wu can mean, "Can it be that there is not?!" But Han-shan seems to use the phrase as a very strong negation—"absolutely none." See also poem 140 and the accompanying note in Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 200).
Han-shan seems to know of a story recorded in the Shen-hsien chuan (attributed to Ko Hung, 283-343) in the biography of Ma-ku (Chapter 7, pp. 27b-28a in Li-tai chen-hsien shih-chuan [ Taipei: Tzu-yu, 1970]). There we read that the two immortals, Ma-ku and Wang Yüan, met during the Han dynasty at the home of Ts'ai Ching. Ma-ku said to Wang Yüan, "Since I last waited on you, I've seen the Eastern Sea three times turn into a mulberry field." To which Wang Yüan replied, "The sages all say in the ocean you can repeatedly kick up the dust."


No. 56 *

I've seen the neighbor's girl on the East; 1.
In years—she's perhaps eighteen.

The homes to the West all compete in coming to ask for her hand;
They wish to marry, to live together as husband and wife.

They'll boil the lamb, stew up the rest of the meats;
All get together and carry out their obscene slaughter.

All grins and smiles—what a delight! Ha! Ha! Ha!
While bleating and wailing, the animals greet death.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II
The locus classicus for the "neighbor's girl on the East" (tung-chia nü) is Sung Yü's (fl. 280 B. C.) "Teng T'u-tzu hao-se fu" ( Wen-hsüan 19: 9b-11b, pp. 254-255), where Sung Yü says: "As for the beautiful women in the world, none are like those of the state of Ch'u; and as for the beauties in Ch'u, none are like those of my village; and as for the beauties in my village, none is like the daughter of my eastern neighbor."


No. 57 *

A farmhouse in the country with many mulberry groves;
Oxen and calves fill the cart tracks in the stables. 1.

But I'm willing to believe in cause and effect, 2.
And sooner or later his thick skull will crack.

When with his own eyes he sees [his wealth] bit by bit slip away.
He'll at last realize that each thing has a life of its own. 3.

With pants made of paper and drawers made of tile, 4.
In the end, you will die of starvation and cold.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II
All signs of wealth.
For k'en-hsin, "willing to believe," Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih‐ chieh p. 34) has mao-hsin, "opposed to belief in"—i.e., "He refuses to believe in . . . But sooner or later." The variant makes sense, but I can find no textual authority for this emendation, and Tseng offers none.
i.e., he has no control over his possessions. On "he'll at last realize"—the phrase is tang-t'ou; tang-t'ou pang-ho is a Zen phrase meaning something like "beating and yelling face to face." It is what Zen masters do to awaken disciples to the error of their ways.
i.e., things that are easily destroyed.


No. 58

I've seen tens of hundreds of dogs,
Each one with hair matted and dishevelled.

Those that are sleeping, sleep by themselves.
And those on the move, move about on their own.

But if you toss them a bone,
They'll fight over it, snapping and snarling at one another.

Truly it's because the bones are so few,
And if the dogs are many, there's no way to divide them in some equal way.

Note: Tseng ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 35) is probably right in seeing this as an allegory directed against monks, who fight over rice, and common people, who fight over profit. Han-shan clearly knew—and had in mind— the following anecdote recorded in the Chan-kuo ts'e (5: 8b, "Ch'in-san"): "All the officers of the empire joined the Alliance and gathered in Chao to urge an attack on Ch'in. 'There is no need to worry over this, your majesty,' said Ch'in's minister, Marquis Ying, to the king of Ch'in. 'Allow me to get rid of them.Ch'in has no quarrel with the officers of the empire. They gather now to make plans for an attack against Ch'in simply because each seeks wealth and fame for himself.Look at your own hounds—some are sleeping, some are up, some walk about and others are simply standing where they are. In any case, they are not fighting. But throw a bone to them and they will all be on their feet in an instant, snapping at each other. Why? You have given them a reason to fight each other" (translated by J. I. Crump , Chan-kuo Ts'e [ San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, Inc., 1979], p. 113, item 101, "The dogs and the bone").


No. 59

I strain my eyes to see into the distance;
White clouds—all around like the boundless sea.

The sparrow hawk and the crow are so full they can just barely move;
While the luan and the feng1., starving, anxiously pace.

Swift-footed steeds are banished to the gravel and rocks,
While lame, feeble donkeys can come to court.

Heaven's too high; we can't ask it why,
But the wrens and the cuckoos are on the Blue Waves. 2.

The luan and feng are two fabulous birds that appear in ages of virtue and peace. Feng is often translated as "phoenix." The feng is said to be red in color, the luan bluish-green.
On the "Blue Waves" (ts'ang-lang), see below.

Note: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi , pp. 94- 95) draw attention to the numerous phrases and words in this poem that are found in the Ch'u‐ tz'u , and as they say, it is not that any line in the poem has a direct allusion to a specific line/ poem in the Ch'u- tz'u ; it is rather that the whole is written in the same spirit. Like Ch'ü Yüan, Han- shan laments the lot of the virtuous man living in bad times (the tristia theme) who is passed over, when others, less talented and less virtuous, are chosen to serve. Iritani and Matsumura specifically comment on: (1) the phrase "strain my eyes" ( chi- mu ); (2) "see into the distance" ( ch'ang- wang ); (3) the hsi particle in the middle of the first line; (4) the phrase "like the boundless sea" ( mang- mang ); (5) the "sparrow hawk and crow" ( ch'ih- ya ) as evil birds (in the Ch'u- tz'u it is the sparrow hawk and the owl —hsiao ); (6) the luan and the feng as symbols of virtuous men; (7) the phrase "anxiously pace" ( p'ang- huang ); (8) the phrase "feeble donkeys" ( ch'ien- lü ); and (9) mention of the river Ts'ang- lang. Iritani and Matsumura read chiao- chia in the last line as chiao- liao and see here an allusion to the Chuang- tzu (Chapter 1, p. 2), where we read: "When the tailor- bird builds her nest in the deep wood, she uses no more than one branch" (translated by Watson, The Complete Works , p. 32). The tailor- bird (or wren) here is like a recluse, and to say that the wren is on (or "in"— tsai ) the Ts'ang- lang is to draw attention— they feel— to the fact that Ch'ü Yüan committed suicide by drowning. (There is perhaps a touch of irony in the fact that Ch'ü Yüan here would choose the Ts'ang- lang in which to drown, since it is the Ts'ang- lang that the "fisherman" uses as his example in chiding Ch'ü Yüan for not being able to dispassionately adjust to bad times ("When the Cang- lang's waters are clear, I can wash my hat- strings in them; when the Cang- lang's waters are muddy, I can wash my feet in them" [translated by Hawkes, The Songs of the South , p. 207]). My own feeling is that "the wrens on the Ts'ang- lang" is another sign of things being out of order: wrens and cuckoos (the chia is the tu- chüan [cuckoo]— Read, Chinese Materia Medica: Avian Drugs , item 306, p. 73) are not water birds— they should not be where they are.


No. 60

Lo-yang has lots of young girls,
Who on spring days flaunt their beauty and charm.

Together they snap off the flowers by the road,
Each putting some into her lofty chignon.

Chignons so lofty—with flowers encircling the knot;
When men see them they all glare and leer.

"Don't seek tender feelings from us; 1.
We're about to go home and see our husbands!" 2.

On shan-shan lien, line 7, I can find no gloss of shan-shan; shan by itself means "sour," "the taste of vinegar." Ch'en ( Han-shan-tzu, p. 269) understands shan-shan in the sense of lien-ai, "tender love." Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 96) read shan-shan as ts'an-ts'an, which normally means sad, but here they feel it means "deep love or affection." Tseng P'uhsin ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 36) seems to suggest that it's the kind of affec-tion/desire that makes your mouth water (as with sour things).
The last two lines are open to a number of interpretations. For example, they might also say, "Purposely seeking warm, tender love; they wear them home to show to their husbands."


No. 61

Girls in the spring show off their good looks and style;
Together they head for the edge of the southern fields.

Looking at flowers, they lament the lateness of day;
They sit in the shade of a tree, fearing that the wind might blow.

A young man comes over from the side of the road
On a white horse with bridle of gold. 1.

"Why must you bother us so long?
Our husbands might find out!"

See note 1 to poem 54.


No. 62

A flock of maidens out to play in the evening sun;
A breeze comes up, filling the road with their fragrant perfume.

Sewn onto their skirts, butterflies of gold;
Tucked into their chignons, Mandarin ducks of jade.

Their young ladies-in-waiting wear kerchiefs 1. of red gauze;
Eunuchs, dressed in trousers of purple brocade.

They've come to observe one who has lost his way;
Temple hair turning white—his heart filled with concern.

Agreeing with Ch'en Hui-chien( Han-shan-tzu p. 249) that chen, which normally means "closely knit," must here be a noun.He suggests reading it as chieh, meaning "kerchief."

Comment: The last two lines are open to a number of interpretations. Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 37) would make them a question— "Did they give a look to someone who has lost his way, someone whose temple hair ... ?" Watson follows this approach in his translation.But there is nothing in the Chinese to indicate interrogative mode.One might also read, "Having observed them, one who has lost his way; His temples turn white—his heart filled with concern."


No. 63

If you run into a demon or ghost,
The first thing is never be frightened or alarmed. 1.

Be calm and firm, never pay it any heed;
If you call out its name, it must certainly leave. 2.

To burn incense and ask for strength from the Buddha,
Or respectfully bow and seek aid from monks

Is like a mosquito biting a iron ox;
It has no place to sink in its teeth. 3.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 99) note ti-i mo ("the first thing is never . . . ") as T'ang colloquial for a strong prohibition.
For Chinese belief that certain demons are harmless and disappear if you know and call out their true names, see, for example, Chapter 17 in the "Nei-p'ien" of Ko Hung's Pao-p'u-tzu (especially 17: 4a-5a). In James Ware's translation of this section of text, the relevant passage begins: "The mountain power in the form of a little boy hopping backward on one foot likes to come and harm people.If you hear a human voice at night in the mountains talking loud, its name is Ch'i.By knowing this name and shouting it, you will prevent it from harming you." And the passage concludes—after listing the names/titles of a variety of demons—with the words: "Only if you know the names of these creatures will they be unable to harm you" (translated by James R. Ware, Alchemy, Medicine and Religion in the China of A. D. 320: The Nei P'ien of Ko Hung [ New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1981], pp. 287-289.)
i.e., such methods will have no effect. The example of the mosquito biting an iron ox might have been common within Zen schools.We find the phrase once again in the notes to "model 58" of the Pi-yen lu (Blue Cliff Record; originally compiled in 1128). For the text, see T.2003 (Vol. 48, p. 191 middle); the note is translated in Thomas and J. C. Cleary, translaters, The Blue Cliff Record, Volume II ( Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 1977), p. 382.


No. 64

Vast, overwhelming, the waters of the Yellow River;
They flow to the East—on and on without end. 1.

Distant, distant, we do not see them clear,
[But for] person after person, life comes to an end.

If you wish to ride the white clouds,
What must you do to sprout wings?

At the time when your hair is still black, 2.
Whether moving or still, you must exert all your strength. 3.

In the Tso chuan ( Duke Hsiang, year 8-566 B. C.; Vol. 1, p. 265) one Tzu-ssu begins his speech urging that Lu join forces with Ch'u in attacking Cheng with the words, "In the poetry of the Chou ( Chou-shih) it says, 'If we wait for the [Yellow] River to clear—how long is man's life?"' That the Yellow River never clears was clearly well known for a long time in China.On this line, Hakuin ( Kanzanshi Sendai kibun, 1: 57-58) also cites Wang tzu-nien's Shih-i chi (cited in the Shih-wen lei-chü ch'ien-chi16), which says, "Cinnabar Mound burns once in a thousand years; the Yellow River clears once in a thousand years."
As a youth or young adult.
But does Han-shan mean do all you can to attain immortality— i.e., work at the Taoist techniques of long life—or does nu-li, "exert all your strength" here mean—as it seems to mean in poem 53—that we may as well enjoy ourselves while we can?


No. 65

Riding this rotten wood boat, 1.
We gather the fruit of the nimba.2.

Moving, I go out into the sea,
Where the billowy waves roll on and on without end. 3.

We've just brought provisions for one night,
But to that other shore—it's still 3000 li.

From what is kleśa produced?
Sad indeed! The arising of causal-made pain. 4.

Han-shan's way of talking about the body, or perhaps the Self, the five skandhas in Buddhism, the five constituents of being: form, feeling, will, perception, and consciousness.
The nimba (jen-p'o; Azadirachta indica) is a tree with very bitter seeds and fruit.The nimba is specifically compared to kleśa at the start of Chapter 34 of the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (" Chia-yeh p'u-sa p'in," Pt. 4; T.375, Vol. 12, p. 831 top), where we read: "Of kleśa there are two kinds: one is cause and the other is effect.Because the cause is evil, the effect is therefore evil; because the effect is evil, therefore the seeds are evil. It's like the fruit of the nimba—since the seeds are bitter, the flowers, fruit, stem, and leaves are all bitter."
The "water and the waves" is a favorite metaphor in Chinese Buddhism.The water by itself—calm, clear, unmoved—stands for true reality, the undifferentiated one, the one mind of the T'ien-t'ai and Hua-yen.The waves in the analogy thus represent the differentiated world, perception of discrete, real things, the waves being caused by the winds of karma.
So it is karma that brings about pain. Note how this goes back to the first couplet; we gather the bitter (k'u "pain" in the last line) fruit of our actions.


No. 66

If you are silent and never speak,
What will the next generation transmit? 1.

If you live retired in thicket and woods
How will your bright wisdom ever appear?

Withered, decayed trees are not a strong defense; 2.
With wind and frost, they suffer early death and disease.

With a clay-ox plowing a field of rocks,
You'll never have a rice-harvest day. 3.

Alluding to the words of Tzu-kung, recorded in Analects 17: 17 (p. 36). D. C. Lau translates ( Confucius: The Analects, p. 146 [17: 19]): "The Master said, 'I am thinking of giving up speech.' Tzu-kung said, 'If you did not speak, what would there be for us, your disciples, to transmit?' "
To protect or "defend" your life (wei-sheng) means to take care of your health—something a recluse might find it difficult to do.
The uselessness of rocky fields is pointed out by Wu Tzu-hsü in his words, "To realize our will against Ch'i is like obtaining a rocky field— there's no use in it"( Tso chuan, Duke Ai, year 11 [ 482 B. C.]; Vol. 1, p. 482). A "clay-ox" (t'u-niu) is presumably one intended for regular soil, but it could also be an ox made of clay.


No. 67

Here in the mountains—so very cold;
It's been this way from of old—it's not just this year.

Peak piled upon peak—constantly clotted with snow;
Dark, secluded woods—every day spewing forth mist.

Here things start to grow only after Grain is in Beard, 1.
And the leaves are coming down, even before the Beginning of Fall. 2.

And here—here is a traveller hopelessly lost,
Who looks and looks but can't see the sky. 3.

Mang-chung is one of the twenty-four divisions of the Chinese ag-ricultural year, a period of fifteen days in the middle of June (June 7-22).
"Beginning of Fall" (li-ch'iu) occurs in the middle of August, about August 8-24.
In Buddhism the sky is sometimes a symbol of the enlightened mind, especially in Mahāyāna Buddhism, where it is equated with śūnyatā, emptiness.It is clear, undifferentiated, without obstacle; it is only the clouds of ignorance that prevent us from seeing it. One wonders if—in a Zen sense—it is not Han-shan's trying to see the sky that prevents him from seeing it.


No. 68

A sojourner in the mountains—heart troubled and concerned;
Constantly lamenting the seasons passing by.

Bitterly I toil to gather mushrooms and thistles; 1.
Can all this sorting and choosing really make me immortal?

My courtyard opens up as the clouds start to roll away;
Woods are bright—the moon perfectly full.

Why have I not gone back home?
The cassia trees make me reluctant to leave. 2.

Mushrooms and thistles are staple fare for seekers of long life. My "thistles" translates chu, Atractylis, for which an alternate name is shan-chi, "mountain thistle." On " Atractylis," G. A. Stuart ( Chinese Materia Medica: Vegetable Kingdom [ Taipei: Southern Materials Center, Inc. 1979; originally published 1911], pp. 57-58), notes that the "drug is a warm, stomachic, stimulant, arthritic, tonic, and diuretic remedy used in fevers, catarrh, chronic dysentery, general dropsy, rheumatism, profuse sweating, and apoplexy.It enters into the composition of several of the most famous prescriptions in use among the native faculty. Among these may be mentioned the Ku-chen-tan, 'strengthening virility elixir'; the Pu-lao-tan, 'elixir of lon-gevity'; and the Ling-chih-tan, 'elixir of felicity.' "
"Cassia trees" (kuei) are associated with recluses and immortals and immortality in the Ch'u-tz'u and elsewhere.The relevant evidence is compiled by Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 20-21) in their notes to poem 295 (their poem no. 9).

Note: The third couplet seems to describe—in Han-shan's way—an enlightenment experience; the clouds of delusion are gone, and the bright moon of wisdom is full and clear.The full moon is a stock Buddhist image of the enlightened mind.


No. 69

There's a man sitting 1. in a mountain pass; 2.
The clouds roll up around him! Rose-colored clouds hem him in.

He holds in his hand a fragrant flower! Which he hopes to transmit; 3.
But the road is long! Difficult to travel that far.

In his heart, disappointment and regret—also suspicion and doubt;
In years already old, having accomplished nothing at all.

The crowd ho-ho's this worn-out nag, 4.
But he stands alone! In being loyal and pure.

Reading the variant of tso, "sit," for the particle hsi. I here follow the Tse-shih chü text (14a), which has five-character lines throughout (also see Iritani and Matsumura [ Kanzanshi, pp. 104-106] and Ch'en Hui-chien [ Han-shan-tzu, pp. 185-186]). In the CTS text, lines 4 and 5 are six-character lines with the particle hsi in the middle.In the CTS text, the particle hsi occurs in lines 1-5 and 8; in the Tse-shih chit text, it occurs in lines 2-4 and 8. I use ! to indicate hsi.
Reading the variant of hsing, mountain pass, for ying, "pillar."
One is reminded of the Zen kōan, "Buddha Twirls a Flower," where he "transmits" the truth of Zen to Kāśyapa in this way.See, for example, Paul Reps, translator, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones ( New York: Anchor Books), p. 95—kōan no. 6 in "The Gateless Gate." If this allusion is intended by Han-shan, his meaning in saying the "road goes on and on" might be that the distance separating him from the world is too great for him to make contact with people and transmit the beauty that he has found.But the Ch'u-tz'u imagery and language (see below) make it more likely that Han-shan identifies with Ch'ü Yüan—i.e., the "flower" repre-sents his virtue and talent, which he hopes will be used.
The CTS mistakenly has chien, "cripple" or "worn-out horse," at the start of line 8. On the "feeble donkey," see poem 59 and accompanying notes.

Note: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 104-106) again point out the obvious Ch'u-tz'u imagery in this poem.As Ch'u-tz'u phrases and terms—in addition to the particle hsi—they cite "the road is long" (lu-man); "disappointment and regret" (ch'ou-ch'ang); "suspicion and doubt" (hu-i); "no accomplishment" (wu-ch'eng); "ho-ho" (wo-i); "this nag" (ssu-chien); "I stand alone" (tu-li); and "loyal and pure" (chung-chen). They also note that the opening strongly resembles the opening of "Shan-kuei" (Mountain Spirit) in the "Nine Songs"; for the text, see Ch'u-tz'u 2: 19b-22a (pp. 33‐ 35), translated by Hawkes in The Songs of the South, pp. 115-116.


No. 70

Pigs eat the flesh of dead men,
And men eat the guts of dead pigs.

Pigs don't seem to mind human stench,
And men—to the contrary—say pig meat smells sweet. 1.

When pigs die, throw them into the water;
When men die, dig them a hole in the ground. 2.

If they never ate one another,
Lotus blossoms would sprout in water that bubbles and boils. 3.

The Chinese word for sausage in hsiang-ch'ang, "fragrant" or "sweet-smelling" bowels.
I am reading this as imperative—this is really what we should do. But Han-shan could just be making a statement: "When pigs die, we throw them into the water," and so forth.
I assume this is Han-shan's way of saying this is never going to happen.


No. 71

What a delight! The body of chaos; 1.
We didn't eat—what's more we didn't piss!

But then it happened that someone drilled and bored;
Because of this we have the nine holes. 2.

Day after day, we make clothing and food; 3.
Year after year—fret over taxes and rent. 4.

A thousand people will fight for one coin;
Forming a crowd and shouting for all they're worth.

Hun-tun—chaos—is the condition that existed before differentiation occurred. Han-shan has in mind the story in Chuang-tzu, Chapter 7 (p. 21, lines 33-35), where the emperors of the Southern and Northern seas bore holes in Chaos so that he too can see, hear, and breathe.On the seventh day of boring (there are seven holes in chaos in the Chuang-tzu version), he died.For Watson's translation, see The Complete Works, p. 97. For a detailed study of the chaos theme in early Taoist thought, see Norman Girardot , Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism ( Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983).
Two eyes, two ears, and so on. The story in Chuang-tzu only mentions the seven holes in the head.
Or "we work for the sake of clothing and food."
Tsu-tiao (my "taxes and rent") was the T'ang system of taxation requiring fixed amounts of cloth and grain each year from each eligible male.See D. C. Twitchett, Financial Administration under the T'ang Dynasty ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), especially Chapter II.


No. 72

Weeping and wailing—what is the cause?
Tears, like beads of pearls.

There must be some parting or separation,
Or worse than this—someone has met with disaster and death. 1.

If your lot is with the destitute and poor,
You'll never be able to understand cause and effect.

In the graveyard I look at corpses of the dead,
But the six paths don't concern me. 2.

I take Han-shan here to be answering the question raised in line 1—these are the causes.But the couplet could as well simply state the facts of life—of necessity, there will be separation and death, so why bother to weep? Such appears to be the interpretation of Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 109).
The "six paths" (liu-tao six gatis) are the six possibilities for rebirth: (1) in hell, (2) as a hungry ghost, (3) as an animal, (4) as an asura (demon), (5) as a human, and (6) as a god (deva). Tseng ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 43) understands the "me" of this line to be the true Self speaking, the Buddha‐ nature inside.


No. 73

Womenfolk idle when it comes to weaving the warp;
The menfolk too lazy to hoe in the fields.

Frivolously addicted to shooting at birds; 1.
Tapping time with their dancing slippers, they pluck and they strum on the strings.

If you're worried about freezing your bones, you must be anxious about making your clothes;
If you want to fill up your belly, growing the food is the first thing to do.

And now who will think about you,
As you bitterly cry out to the sky?

Literally, the text says they are addicted to "carrying crossbow pellets under their arms," hsia-tan.


No. 74

Not to practice the "true and orthodox way," 1.
But follow perversions 2.—we call them "devout old hags." 3.

Their mouths rarely confess their shame to the gods and the Buddhas,
While their hearts are full of jealousy and hate.

Behind your back they're eating fish and meat,
While in front of others they chant Buddha's name.

If this is the way you cultivate yourself,
It will be difficult indeed to escape from the river of hell. 4.

Chen-cheng tao, a common phrase used for the Buddhist way.
Hsieh, probably short here for hsieh-chien, mithyā-dṛṣi, "perverted views."
Hsing-p'o are old women believers.
Named nai-ho.


No. 75

In this world there's one class of fool,
Who's dazed and bewildered—just like a mule!

Oh, he still understands human speech,
But with his desire and lust, in form he's more like a pig.

The steep place [where he lives] is difficult to fathom; 1.
[It's where] true words, to the contrary, turn into the false.

Who is there that can talk to him?
To let him know he should never live here. 2.

Hsien-hsi means "steep and difficult to climb." I believe the point is that these people are so far removed from common, sensible people that one cannot even guess what is on their minds.
The "here" is ambiguous; it might mean here in this cut-off realm, or it might mean here in the world with the rest of us.


No. 76

There's a fellow whose surname is Haughty-and-Rude;
His name, Greed—his nickname Dishonest.

There's not a speck of understanding in him!
In all things, a person detested by others.

Death he hates like the bitter Gold Thread; 1.
Life he fondly regards, like the sweetness of crystalline honey.

He still hasn't stopped eating fish;
In eating meat, all the more, he never gets his fill.

On huang-lien as "Golden Thread," see Read, Chinese Medicinal Plants, p. 170, item 534. Stuart ( Chinese Materia Medica: Vegetable Kingdom, p. 125) identifies huang-lien as "Coptis teeta" and notes that "the color of the main portion is a deep, rich yellow.The taste is intensely bitter, but aromatic. The more brittle the root is, the more highly its reputed virtues. It is regarded by Chinese doctors as a sort of panacea for a great many ills.It is supposed to clear inflamed eyes, to benefit the chest, to combat fever, and to act as an alternative or alexipharmic drug."


No. 77

Even if you live [in a house of] rhinoceros horn 1.
Or wrap yourself 'round 2. with belts of the eyeballs of tigers, 3.

Use branches of peach to rid yourself of pollution 4.
Or make necklaces of garlic buds,

Warm your stomach with dogwood wine 5.
Or empty your mind with Medlar broth, 6.

In the end you'll return—you'll not escape death;
A waste of yourself, the search for long life.

i.e., consume that much. For the marvelous medicinal properties of "rhinoceros horn" (hsi-chüeh), see Read, Chinese Materia Medica: Animal Drugs ( Taipei : Southern Materials Center, 1976), item 355. Quoting in part, we read that it is used "to cure devil possession and keep away all evil spirits and miasmas ... to remove hallucinations and bewitching night‐ mares.Continuous administration lightens the body and makes one very robust. For typhoid, headache, and feverish colds ... to dispel fear and anxiety, to calm the liver and clear the vision."
Reading jao, "abundant," as jao, "to surround."
Again see Read, Animal Drugs, item 351. I quote: "The ball is macerated overnight in fresh sheep's blood, then separated and dried over a low flame and powdered.For epilepsy, malaria, fevers in children, and convulsions."
The apotropaic qualities of the peach in China are well known. See, for example, Bodde's discussion of the "Peachwood Gate Gods," during the "Great Exorcism" in the Han in Festivals in Classical China ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975), pp. 127-138.
"Dogwood" is a common dictionary gloss for chu-yü. Hu Shiu-yin ( An Enumeration of Chinese Materia Medica [ Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1980], p. 21) says it is Evodia (Evodia rutaecarpa). Stuart ( Chinese Materia Medica: Vegetable Kingdom, p. 479) lists a chu-yü-chou, which he identifies as Congee of Boymia rutaecarpa and notes that it is a "carminative and [is] recommended for pain in the bowels."
For "Medlar" (kou-ch'i), Hu ( An Enumeration, p. 53) has "Chinese matrimony-vine" (Lycium chinense). Stuart ( Chinese Materia Medica: Vegetable Kingdom, pp. 436 and 483) notes both a kou-chi-chiu ("Tincture of Lycium chinense") and a kou-chi-chien ("Decoction of Lycium chinense"). Of the former he says, "The seeds of the plant are boiled soft, the pulp expressed, and fermented with rice and leaven.... This is a tonic preparation and is useful especially in sexual debility." On the latter, "In the spring and summer the stalk and leaves are used, and in the autumn and winter the root and seeds.... It is prescribed as a tonic and antifebrile remedy.It is also said to abort cancerous swellings."


No. 78

By divining I chose a remote spot to live;
T'ien-t'ai—there's nothing further to say.

Gibbons wail—the valley mist, damp and cold;
The glow from the peak reaches to my straw door.

I break off some leaves to cover my home in the pines;
Build a pond, channelling water in from a spring.

Already content that bothersome matters are all put to rest, 1.
I pick bracken to live out the rest of my years. 2.

Hsiu wan-shih (or wan-shih hsiu), literally "put to rest the 10,000 affairs," is commonly used in Zen to indicate the state of mind of one sitting in meditation.See Appendix II, "Buddhist Terms," for other such occurrences in the poems of Han-shan.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 115) indicate a possible allusion to the Po I/Shu Ch'i story (see note 4 to poem 8) in this last line with the reference to picking "bracken" (chüeh): Po I and Shu Ch'i ate ferns (wei) in retirement but eventually starved to death.

Note: The actions of picking and breaking off occur a number of places in the poem. Han-shan "picks by divination" (pu-tse) this remote place to live in line 1 and picks (ts'ai) bracken ferns at the end.He breaks off (che) leaves in line 5 and lives in a place broken off from the rest of the world.


No. 79

"To increase" means to increase one's essence; 1.
This can be called "the increased." 2.

"To change" means to change one's form;
To this we give the name "the changed."

If you can increase and what's more can change,
Then you can ascend to the registers of the immortals.

If you can neither increase nor change,
In the end you'll not avoid misfortune and death.

"Essence," ching, is one of three vital powers in the body, according to the Taoists, the other two being shen, "spirit," and ch'i, "breath." Essence is normally identified with semen in men and with a comparable fluid in women.
Or "beneficial." The word is i, which means both "to increase" and "to be beneficial."

Note: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 117) note that elsewhere Han-shan seems to speak out against Taoist long-life practices; they feel this poem shows that there was more than one author of the Han-shan poems. They also point out the remarkably similar lines to these found in Chapter 56 of the Sung, Taoist encyclopedia, Yün-chi ch'i-ch'ien (HY 1032, Cheng-t'ung Tao-tsang, Vol. 37, p. 29714 bottom): "Of the so-called 'Way of increase and change'—'to increase' means to increase one's essence; 'to change' means to change one's form.If you can increase and can change, your name will ascend to the registers of the immortals; If you neither increase nor change, you'll not depart from misfortune and death." Either the Yün-chi ch'i-ch'ien is using the words of Han-shan, or—what seems more likely—both texts follow some common Taoist source.


No. 80

In vain I labored to explain the Three Histories; 1.
Wasted my time, reading through the Five Classics. 2.

As old age comes on, I examine the Imperial Records; 3.
As before, I live as a common man.

Divining with milfoil, I meet with the hexagram "Obstruction;" 4.
In control of my life, the star "Emptiness and Danger." 5.

I'll not be so lucky as the tree by the stream,
Which year after year has its season of green. 6.

Normally understood to be the Historical Records (Shih-chi), the History of Han (Han shu), and the History of Latter Han (Hou Han shu).
The Book of Songs ( Shih), the Book of Documents ( Shu), the Book of Changes (I), the Record of Rites ( Li-chi), and the Spring and Autumn Annals ( Ch'un-ch'iu).
Following Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 118) in understanding huang-chi to mean census reports.His position therefore is that of a lowly scribe. Ch'en Hui-chien ( Han-shan-tzu, p. 200) and Tseng P'u-hsin ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 47), however, both understand huang-chi to mean Taoist books on immortality.Their understanding of line 4 would thus be that so far this study has done him no good.
Hexagram 39, chien. "Obstruction" is Wilhelm's translation: see Richard Wilhelm, The I Ching or Book of Changes ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1950), pp. 151-154.
The star hsü-wei. Chinese believe that one's fate is controlled by the star/constellation dominant in the skies at the moment of birth. Hsü-wei apparently refers to the "lunar lodging" (hsiu) hsü, a constellation of two stars that Edward Schafer ( Pacing the Void: T'ang Approaches to the Stars [ Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1977], p. 81) translates as "Barrens." This is the lodging of the moon in the last month of fall, and it controls length of life and wealth.There is a star close by hsü said to control danger (ssu-wei).
Perhaps an oblique allusion to the title of poem 2 of the "Nineteen Old Poems" of Han—"Green, green the grasses by the stream" (ch'ing‐ ch'ing ho-p'an ts'ao) (for the text, see Wen-hsüan 29: 2ab, p. 397; Watson has a translation in Chinese Lyricism, p. 23).


No. 81 *

Emerald-green stream—water in the spring crystal clear;
Moon over Han-shan dazzling white.

Silently I know that my soul by itself is enlightened;
As I see into the truth of emptiness, the external spheres become more and more still and serene. 1.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
"See into ... " is kuan-k'ung, to see into or "contemplate" in meditation (vipaśyanā) the emptiness (śūnyatā) of all things.The "external spheres" (ching) means the external world as perceived by the senses and mind.


No. 82

At present I have but one coat;
It's not made of gauze, and it's not made of silk.

You may ask, "Of what shade is it made?"
Well, it's not red, but it's also not purple. 1.

In the summer I treat it as a shirt;
In the winter it gets used for a quilt.

Winter and summer, this way then that it gets used;
Throughout the whole year I've just got this one.

Red and purple (hung-tzu) appear in a later poem (No. 241—but there it is chu-tzu) as the colors of clothes worn by high-ranking officials and the rich.That all seems in line with the fact that this coat is also not made of "gauze" or "silk." Han-shan might also have in mind, however, a line from the Analects ( Lun-yü 10: 5, p. 18). Arthur Waley ( The Analects of Confucius [ New York: Vintage, 1938], p. 147) translates: "A gentleman does not wear facings of purple or mauve, nor in undress does he use pink or roan." He explains in a note that his "roan" is usually translated as purple and that these colors were avoided by gentlemen because they were reserved for periods of fasting and mourning.


No. 83 *

White duster with candana handle; 1.
Its fragrant odor can be smelled all day.

Supple and gentle, like rolling fog;
Waving and fluttering, similar to drifting clouds.

Respectfully presented to guests, it fittingly goes with the summer;
Lifted up high, it brushes off dust.

Time after time in the chambers of abbots, 2.
It's used to point out the way to those who are lost. 3.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
A variety of sandalwood grown in India.
"Chambers of abbots" can also be simply "abbots;" fang-chang means both the room and the one who occupies it.
The "duster" (fu-tzu) figures prominently in stories of Zen masters. Charles Luk— Ch'an and Zen Teaching, Series Two ( London: Rider & Company, 1961), pp. 75-76—translates the following anecdote from the Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu: "Yang Shan replied, 'I had (some) experience of this; when I saw monks coming from all quarters, I raised my dust-whisk and asked them, "In your places, is this one expounded or not?" I again asked them, 'Apart from this one, what have the elder masters been doing in your places?' Ling Yu praised the master and said, 'From olden times this has always been the Sect's tooth and nail.' " Luk then notes (p. 76, note 1): "The act of raising the dust-whisk is the performance of great function to show that which raises it. Yang Shan meant, 'At your monasteries, do your masters directly point at the mind to teach you how to realize your selfnature and attain Buddahood?' 'This one' in Ch'an indicates that which raises the dust-whisk but not the whisk itself.The second question, 'What have the old masters been doing?' means what have been their activities, or performance of function in accordance with the transmission of mind, to enlighten their disciples. Kuei Shan praised Yang Shan for his use of all the best devices of the Sect to receive and guide visiting monks, because his method was the direct pointing at the mind as taught by Bodhidharma."


No. 84 **

Through covetousness and greed some people look for the happy life;
They do not know that calamity awaits them in this body of one hundred years.

But they only need see the dust in the glow 1. or the bubbles that float in the foam;
Then they'll understand that impermanence ruins and destroys all men.

The great man—when his spirit and will are straight and firm like iron;
When he does not bend to corruption—the Way in his heart being naturally true.

When his conduct is thorough, his integrity high—like bamboo under the frost; 2.
Only then does he know not to vainly use soul and mind.

Seven-character lines.
Yang-yen are the dust particles seen in rays of the sun.
The metaphor of the bamboo—the intention appearing to be that the bamboo, or at least the best bamboo, is unaffected by the frost, not wilting or bending—appears to carry through the entire line. The great man's conduct is thorough (mi), just as the bamboo remains "dense" (also mi), and his integrity (chieh) is high, just as the joints in the bamboo (also chieh) remain high, since it refuses to bend.


No. 85 *

So many different people,
With hundreds of plans for seeking profit and fame.

In their hearts they covet the search for glory and honor;
In managing their affairs, they think only of wealth and rank.

Before their minds know the briefest moment of rest,
Off they go in a rush, like mist and smoke.

Family members—truly one close-knit group;
One single call, and one hundred will, "Yes, Yes," appear.

But before seventy years have passed;
The ice will melt and the tiles will be broken, cast away. 1.

When you're dead, all things come to an end;
Who will go on as your heir?

When mud pellets are submerged in water,
Then you know they're neither intelligence nor smarts! 2.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Han-shan adds the character (chih), "throw away"(?) to this well‐ known four-character phrase—ping-hsiao wa-chieh, a way of saying that something totally falls apart—in this case, the family that seemed so united.See poem 38, note 2.
Because they dissolve into nothingness. The mud pellet—we assume—is a metaphor for the family mentioned before; there too the cohesion is only temporary. But it could as well be a general metaphor for life.


No. 86

Greedy people love piles of goods,
Just like the owl loves its young.

But when owls grow up, they eat their mothers; 1.
Lots of possessions also cause harm.

Get rid of them, and good luck is born;
Amass them—disasters arise.

Have no possessions, and you'll have no disasters;
Then you can flap your wings in the blue clouds.

For Chinese traditions on the owl (hsiao)—including the belief that the young eat their mothers when they grow up—see Read, Chinese Materia Medica ... Avian Drugs, pp. 87-88, item 316.


No. 87

Away from home, ten thousand li,
You lift up your swords to strike the Hsiung-nu.

If you get the advantage, then they will die;
If you lose it, then it's your loss of life.

If it's their life; you show no compassion;
So if it's your life—once again, in that, what is the crime?

If I taught you "the technique that would not fail," 1.
Not to covet would be the best plan.

Literally, a "one hundred victory" technique.


No. 88

Anger is the fire in the heart 1.
That can burn up a forest of merit.

If you wish to walk the bodhisattva's path,
With patience 2. protect the true mind.

Anger/hatred (ch'en, dvesṣa) is one of the "three poisons" (san-tu) in Buddhism: the other two are greed (t'an, raga) and ignorance or delusion (ch'ih, moha). See Appendix II for references to these terms in Han-shan's poems.
Jen-ju, kṣānti.


No. 89 **

For the sake of burying your heads in stupidity, dizzy and dim,
You love the direction of ignorance—the demons' dark cave. 1.

Time and again I've urged you to start cultivation early;
But on this you've remained obstinately stupid, minds unconscious, confused!

Unwilling to believe and accept the words of Han-shan,
You turn and you turn, doubly increasing karma's waves. 2.

You'll just have to wait 'til they cut off your head and divide you in two,
Then you'll know that your own body is a thing that is both slave and thief!

Seven-character lines.
Literally, the cave of the rākṣasa, lo-ch'a, demons best known for their habit of eating people.
Remembering that waves, in the analogy of water and waves, stand for deluded perception of a differentiated world—the waves being caused by the winds of karma. The text does not literally say "increasing waves"; rather, it has ku-ku, the sound made by lapping waves.


No. 90

The evil destinies 1.—so terribly boundless and vast;
Dim and dark, lacking the light of the sun.

Among men, eight hundred years 2.
Still can't compare in length to living in here half a night.

At this level, that whole lot of fools.
Just to discuss their situation can bring me great pain.

I urge you, sir, to seek release, 3.
To recognize and hold on to the Dharma-king. 4.

O-ch'ü the three evil destinies are: (1) to go to hell, (2) to become a hungry ghost, or (3) to be reborn as an animal.
Probably an indirect allusion to P'eng-tsu, China's Methusaleh, who is said to have lived eight hundred years.
Ch'u-li, release from attachments (upādāna).
Literally, the text has the "king in the dharma" (fa-chung wang), and Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 129-130) feel that, on the basis of a similar line at the end of poem 162 (see below—"To recognize and hold on to the king and lord of the heart," hsin wang-chu), "dharma" here refers to the ten thousand things or the lord of the ten thousand things, the heart.Thus fa-chung wang would be "the king in the heart"—i.e., the Buddha.However we arrive, the point is the same—we should recognize and hold on to the Buddha inside.


No. 91 †

The world has lots of "wise"men;
Stupid dolts! Who bitterly labor in vain.

They do not seek future good;
Only know to create the causes of evil.

The Five Perversions 1. and Ten Evils 2. are their kind,
The Three Poisons 3. they take as their kin.

The minute they die they go into hell;
There forever, like the silver kept at the mint. 4.

The wu-ni (Pañcānantarya), on which Soothill and Hodous have: "The five rebellious acts or deadly sins, parricide, matricide, killing an arhat, shedding the blood of a Buddha, destroying the harmony of the sangha, or fraternity" ( A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, p. 128).
Shih-o (Daākuśala); Soothill and Hodous ( Dictionary, p. 50) list them as: "killing, stealing, adultery, lying, double-tongue, coarse language, filthy language, covetousness, anger, perverted views."
Anger, greed, and ignorance—see poem 88, note 1.
i.e., silver that is never taken out.

Missing from the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō Library editions.


No. 92

Heaven high, high—without limit;
Earth thick, thick—no extreme.

Living things lie in between;
Relying on their powers of creation.

Head-on they clash as they search for full bellies and warmth,
Making their plans to gobble each other up.

Cause and effect—neither examined with care;
Like a blind boy asking the color of milk. 1.

An allusion to the Nirvāna-sūtra (Ch. 14, "Sheng-hsing p'in"; T.374, Vol. 12, p. 446 bottom, 447 top), where the impossibility of heretics' (i.e., non-Buddhists—wai-tao, the tīrthikas) understanding the "four pāramitā" of knowledge and the four qualities of nirvana (ch'ang lo wo ching— permanence, bliss, self, and purity) is compared to the impossibility of a blind man understanding the color of milk.The text reads: "It is like the case of a man born blind, who does not know the color of milk: he would then ask someone else what the color of milk is like.The other person would respond that the color is white like that of the cowry. The blind man would then further ask, 'Is the color of milk like the cowry in sound?' The other would reply, 'No.' So he would further ask, 'What is the color of a cowry like?' The other man would reply, 'It's like the tip of a rice stalk.' The blind man would then further ask, 'Is the color of milk soft and pliant like the tip of a rice stalk? What's more, what is the tip of a rice stalk like?' Someone would answer, 'It's like the snow that rains down.' The blind man would then continue, 'This tip of a rice stalk—is it cold like snow? Snow, furthermore, is like what?' Someone would reply, 'It's like a white crane.' So in this way, the man born blind, although he might hear these four metaphors, in the end would not be able to understand the color of milk."


No. 93

In this world there are several groups of people;
When we discuss it—as for beauty, there are various kinds.

If Old lady Chia was granted a husband; 1.
Huang-ti and Lao-tzu originally had no wives. 2.

The Wei clan's boy was so cute and charming; 3.
The Chung family's daughter was extremely ugly. 4.

If they go off to the West,
Then I'll walk on the East side.

"Old Lady Chia" (Chia-p'o) apparently refers to the beauty mentioned in the Tso chuan ( Duke Chao, year 28; Vol. 1, p. 427), who was married to an official (ta-fu) from the state of Chia, who was so ugly that for three years she neither spoke nor smiled.Finally, after he returned from hunting, having shot a pheasant, she smiled. (The anecdote is also recorded in Ch'u-ksüeh chi, Ch. 19: 3, "Ugly People" [Ch'ou-jen]—see Ch'uhsüeh chi [ Taipei: Hsin-hsing, 1972], Vol. 2, p. 1026.) Tseng P'u-hsin ( Han‐ shan shih-chieh, p. 53), by contrast, identifies Old Lady Chia as the Empress of Emperor Hui of the Chin (r. 290-306).
The legendary ruler (traditional reign dates 2697-2596 B. C.) and early philosopher (supposed contemporary of Confucius, c. 500 B. C.), whose names are linked as co-authors of a type of Taoist statecraft ("Huang-Lao" thought) popular in the early years of the Han (c. 200 B. C.).
Wei-shih erh presumably means Wei Chieh, grandson of Wei Kuan in the Chin, a young man known for his beauty who was sickly and weak and died at the age of twenty-seven.His biography is recorded in Chin shu 36 (Vol. 4, pp. 1067-1068), and he is cited as one of the "Beautiful Men" (Mei chang-fu) in Ch. 19: 1 of the Ch'u-hsüeh chi (Vol. 2, p. 1017). Tseng P'uhsin ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 53) identifies the "Wei-shih erh" as the daughter of Wei Ch'üan.
The "Chung family's daughter" ( Chung-chia nü) is most likely Chung-li Ch'un, who was extremely ugly yet became Queen of Ch'i, consort of King Hsüan (r. in Ch'i from 342-324 B. C.), because of the sageness of her advice.Her story is recorded in Lieh-nü chuan 6: 8b-10a; for a translation, see Albert Richard O'Hara, The Position of Woman in Early China ( Washington, DC: The Catholic University of Amenza Press), pp. 171-174.

Note: The examples given seem to indicate that a beautiful face—or bodily beauty—does not necessarily entail good fortune in life (examples 1 and 3, lines 3 and 5—one man and one woman) and that wisdom and physical beauty do not necessarily go hand in hand (examples 2 and 4, lines 4 and 6—again, male and female examples given). I take Han-shan's point in the last couplet to be that he would prefer to be ranked with Huang-ti and Lao-tzu and Chung-li Ch'un—to be known for his "beauty" of mind.


No. 94

Gentlemen of worth do not covet;
It's the fools who love smelting gold.

If their wheat fields encroach upon others',
They say, "The bamboo groves are all ours as well."

They flex their muscles, searching for riches and wealth;
Grind their teeth, driving on their old nags.

You must look beyond the suburban gate;
Pile after pile [of graves], at the foot of cypress and pine. 1.

A number of graveyard songs come to mind, including poem 13 of the "Nineteen Old Poems" of the Han. Watson ( Chinese Lyricism, p. 29) translates the opening lines: "I drive my carriage from the Upper East Gate, scanning the graves far north of the wall [literally, the graves to the north of the suburbs]; silver poplars, how they whisper and sigh; pine and cypress flank the broad lane" ( Wen-hsüan 29: 6a, p. 399).


No. 95

Midst the clamor and din, 1. you buy fish and meat,
Shoulder it home to feed wife and kids.

Why must you kill other things
And use them to give life to yourselves?

This is not the condition that leads you to Heaven;
It's purely the dregs of Hell. 2.

When you see Hsü the Sixth talking to a broken pestle,
You'll then start to know that it makes no sense. 3.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 133) follow Irida in reading hung-hung as "power" or "authority" (wei-shih). I can make no sense of that reading. Hung by itself means "singing," and it seems clear to me that hung-hung represents the noise made at a Chinese market by buyers and sellers.
"Sediments" (tzu) here meant in the sense of the poor state that results at the end.
Meaning—I think—that eating fish and meat makes about as much sense as trying to converse with a broken pestle. But my interpretation is tentative.


No. 96

There are those who take the cedar
And call it white candana.

People studying the Way are as numerous as the sands;
Still, only a few will attain nirvāna.1.

They throw away gold—to the contrary, shoulder off weeds; 2.
Deceive others—but also end up deceiving themselves.

It's like piling up sand in one place;
You'll still have trouble turning it into one unified lump.

Han-shan uses an early transliteration of nirvāna, ni-wan.
In Chapter 9 of the Nirvāna-sūtra ("Ju-lai-hsing p'in"; T. 374, Vol. 12, p. 421 bottom), the lazy and negligent are compared to stupid thieves who "throw away the true treasure and carry off weeds and chaff."

Note: The second couplet shows us what the first couplet was about: with people seeking nirvāna, false experiences (the cedar—ch'un) are sometimes taken for the true (the white, fragrant, candana—pai chan-t'an). The two woods are similar, but not the same; both are strong and fragrant and used to make things.But only candana is used to make Buddhist images. The final couplet seems to add that, no matter how many close experiences one has, those experiences will never, collectively, add up to the experience of nirvāna.


No. 97 *

People steam sand planning to make rice,
And when they begin to get thirsty, only then do they start to dig out their wells. 1.

You may use all your strength polishing bricks,
But can you ever turn them into mirrors? 2.

The Buddha said we are all fundamentally the same; 3.
All have the nature that is True and Just So. 4.

You must simply, carefully think all things through; 5.
It's no use to idly quarrel and compete.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
One could also translate, "To steam sand hoping to make rice; is like ... " Cheng-sha ch'eng-fan ("steam sand, make rice")—which is close to the words we have here—is a set phrase representing a useless endeavor. The locus classicus for the simile would appear to be Chapter 6 in the Sūrańgama-sūtra (T.945, Vol. 19, p. 131 bottom), where we read: "For this reason Ananda, to cultivate meditation without having cut off licentiousness is like steaming sand and rocks, hoping they will turn into rice.At the end of a hundred or a thousand kalpas, you could only call this 'hot sand.' " On being thirsty and then digging a well— Ts'ao Chih (192-232), in his "Remonstrating against the Attack of Liao-tung" ( Chien fa Liao-tung piao), points out that "to be thirsty and then dig one's well, or to be famished and only then plant one's seeds—[in this way] you can plan for things far away, but it will be difficult to respond [to the immediate situation] in the end" (for the text, see I-wen lei-chü 24 [Vol. I, p. 437].)
For the famous exchange between the Zen masters Huai-jang ( 677‐ 744) and Ma-tsu ( 707-786) on polishing a tile in hopes of turning it into a mirror, see the biography of Huai-jang in the Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu, Ch. 5 (p. 92 in Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu [ Taipei: Chen-shan-mei, 1967]). The anecdote is translated into English in Paul Peachey's translation of Heinrich Dumoulin 's A History of Zen Buddhism ( New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), p. 98, as follows: "[Huai-jang asked Ma-tsu:] 'For what purpose are you sitting in meditation?' Ma-tsu answered, 'I wish to become a Buddha.' Thereupon the Master picked up a tile and started rubbing it on a stone. Ma-tsu asked, 'What are you doing, Master?''I am polishing this tile to make a mirror,' Huai-jang replied. 'How can you make a mirror by rubbing a tile?' exclaimed Ma-tsu. 'How can one become a Buddha by sitting in meditation?' countered the master."
P'ing-teng, samatā.
All have chen-ju hsing—i.e., we are all by nature bhūtatathatā, the name for the really real in much Mahāyāna thought.
To "carefully think things through" (shen ssu-liang) is clearly a good thing in the poems of Han-shan (for other references, see Appendix II, "Buddhist Terms"). Nonetheless, this kind of thinking (ssu-liang) is not generally approved of in Buddhism. Ssu-liang, intellection or reasoning, is the function of the seventh consciousness (manas) in the Consciousness‐ Only School of Buddhism, and in other schools of Chinese Buddhism as well. Fung Yu-lan ( A History of Chinese Philosophy, Vol. II, translated by Derk Bodde [ Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953], p. 312) notes the following about this consciousness: "This seventh or manas consciousness 'perpetually thinks about the ego (ātman), to which it clings.' " Han-shan's use of ssu-liang as something that is good might indicate that he writes before Hsüan-tsang's translation of the treatises of this school into Chinese ( Hsüan-tsang's dates are 596-664). Still, this is a poem that Pulleyblank classes as "Han-shan II" by the rhyme words used.


No. 98 *

In investigating the affairs of this world,
Each small detail must be understood.

But understanding all things is never easy,
And everyone is partial to seeking what seems best for him.

When it's a matter of protecting ourselves, the bad points turn into good;
When it's a matter of defaming others, then what is right becomes wrong.

Thus we know the various types who talk in excess; 1.
Behind our backs, all go with what suits themselves.

Cold or hot we must judge for ourselves;
Never believe the lips of the servant. 2.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Perhaps bragging about what they know or have done. The phrase is lan-k'ou, which literally means "run off at the mouth." It might also mean they are overly flattering in their praise—at least to your face.
That is to say—I think—never trust what others tell you about someone else; find out for yourself. In Zen, that one must experience enlightenment oneself and not rely on what others might tell you about it is a point that is also made in this way.In kōan23 of the Wu-men kuan (T.2005, Vol 48, p. 296), a monk named Chien-ming, having been enlightened by some remarks of the sixth patriarch, says: "I was under the fifth patriarch many years but could not realize my true self until now.Through your teaching I find the source. A person drinks water and knows himself whether it is cold or warm. May I call you my teacher?" (Translated by Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones [ Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957] pp. 108-109.)


No. 99

Dispirited, at a loss-the many impoverished scholars,
Starving and cold, taken to the extreme.

Living unemployed, they delight in writing their poems;
Plodding, plodding, 1. they use up the strength of their minds.

Lowly men's words—who will collect them?
But I urge you, put an end to your sighs.

Were they written on cheap flour biscuits,
Even begging dogs wouldn't give them a bite.

Cha-cha is the noise made by the shuttle on a loom.


No. 100

If you'd like to know a metaphor for life and death,
You can compare them to water and ice.

When water congeals it turns into ice,
And when the ice melts, it reverts to the condition of water.

Having died, you'll definitely be reborn;
Being born, you'll still return to the condition of death.

Water and ice do no harm to each other;
Life and death are also both good.


PART 2 Poems No. 101— No. 200

PART 3 Poems No. 201— No. 311