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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 2
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.

No. 101

As I reflect on the days of my youth;
For hunting, I'd head off to the high plains.

"State messenger"—this post was not my design.
"Immortal"—that isn't even worth mentioning!

On and on I'd race my white horse;
Shout out the hares, release the green hawks.

Unaware [of how it came to be]—my life now greatly a shambles, in ruins.
White-haired and old—who will take pity on me?

Note: Iritani and Matusmura ( Kanzanshi, p. 142) note the connection between this poem and the "songs of youth" ( shao-nien hsing) recorded in the Yüeh-fu shih chi (Vol. II, pp. 952-958). In those songs as well, riding and hunting are common themes.


No. 102

I stop and rest at the bottom of the deep woods;
From birth I've been a farmer.

In character—simple and honest;
Speech devoid of flattery and self-praise.

I preserve my Self—I don't inspect jade; 1.
If I believe in the Lord, then I have pearls. 2.

How can I float and drift together with them,
And look not beyond the wild ducks on the waves? 3.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 143-144) see two possible references to Chuang-tzu here.One is to an anecdote about Chuang-tzu preserved in Han-shih wai-chuan (though now found only by citation in I-wen lei-chü, Ch. 83 [Vol. II, p. 1422]) where King Hsiang of Ch'u sent a messenger with 1000 chin in gold and 100 pairs of pi (circular pieces of jade with holes in the middle) to get Chuang-tzu to serve as Prime Minister, but Chuang-tzu firmly refused.The second story is recorded in Chuang-tzu, Chapter 20 (p. 53, lines 38-41), where Confucius laments to Master Sang‐ hu that his friends and kin are all leaving him. Master Sang-hu then says ( Watson, The Complete Works, p. 215): "Have you never heard about Lin Hui, the man who fled from Chia? He threw away his jade disc worth a thousand measures of gold, strapped his little baby on his back, and hurried off. Someone said to him, 'Did you think of it in terms of money? Surely a little baby isn't worth much money! Or were you thinking of the bother? But a little baby is a great deal of bother! Why then throw away a jade disc worth a thousand measures of gold and hurry off with a little baby on your back?' Lin Hui replied, 'The jade disc and I were joined by profit, but the child and I were brought together by Heaven.Things joined by profit, when pressed by misfortune and danger, will cast each other aside, but things brought together by Heaven, when pressed by misfortune and danger, will cling to one another. To cling to each other and to cast each other aside are far apart indeed!' "
A difficult line: the text is hsin chün fang te chu. Chün elsewhere in the Han-shan poems almost always means "you," and the contrast here is with the wo "my self" of the previous line.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 143-144) thus seem to read the line as, "I will let you, my lord, go after the pearl"—i.e., you want money; I have greater treasures in mind (my true nature, my Self). But surely the force of the fang in the line is "then" or "only then." Tentatively, my interpretation is that Han-shan's belief in the Lord ( Buddha) is equivalent to having the treasure of pearls; the "pearl" (chu), after all, is the stock symbol of Buddha-nature.So he has no need to chase after valuable jades. Iritani and Matsumura see another allusion here to the Chuang-tzu. In Chuang-tzu, Chapter 32 (p. 90, lines 43-46; Watson, The Complete Works, p. 360), the pearl of the Black Dragon is something someone risks his life to get; thus the pearl is a metaphor for something of great value for which you would risk your life.
An allusion to Ch'u-tz'u, "Pu-chü" (Divining Where to Live); Ch'u‐ tzu pu-chu, 6: 2b, p. 73. Hawkes, The Songs of the South, p. 205, translates the relevant passage: "Is it better to have the aspiring spirit of a thousand li stallion, or to drift this way and that like a duck on water, saving oneself by rising and falling with the waves?" Clearly Han-shan sees himself as one whose concerns go beyond the mere acquisition of money.


No. 103 *

No need to attack others' faults; 1.
What use in showing off one's good traits? 2.

When it's time to go forward, then you can advance;
When it's time to withdraw, then you can retire. 3.

When salary's substantial anxieties build up,
When words are deep, first consider if the friendship is shallow. 4.

Having heard this, if you think it through,
A small child ought to see it himself.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Perhaps alluding to Analects 12: 21 (p. 24), where we read (here using the translation of Waley's The Analects of Confucius [ New York: Vintage, 1938], pp. 68-169): "Once when Fan Ch'ih was taking a walk with the Master under the trees at the Rain Dance altars, he said, "May I venture to ask about 'piling up moral force,' 'repairing shortcomings,' and 'deciding when in two minds'?" The Master said, "An excellent question. 'The work first; the reward afterwards'; is not that piling up moral force? 'Attack the evil that is within yourself; do not attack the evil that is in others.' Is not this 'repairing shortcomings'?"
Some versions of the text simply repeat the "no need" of line 1 at the start of this line.In Analects 5: 26 (p. 9) Yen Yüan, in response to Con fucius' request that each of his disciples tell him what is on his mind, replies: "I should like never to boast of my own goodness and never to impose onerous tasks upon others" (translated by D. C. Lau, Confucius: The Analects, p. 80).
In Analects 7: 11 (p. 12), Confucius says to Yen Yüan: "Only you and I have the ability to go forward when employed and to stay out of sight when set aside" (translated by D. C. Lau, Confucius: The Analects, p. 87). Also relevant, in Analects 15: 7 (p. 31), Confucius says of Ch'ü Po-yü: "When the Way prevails in the state, he takes office, but when the Way falls into disuse in the state he allows himself to be furled and put away safely."
i.e., one does not discuss weighty matters with casual acquaintances. This appears to be an allusion to Hou Han shu52 (Vol. 6, p. 1719), the biography of Ts'ui Yin, where Ts'ui Yin says, "I have heard that it is stupid to have deep words where the relationship is shallow."

Comment: One way of reading these lines is that Han-shan simply wishes to point out the "common-sense" nature of these essentially "Confucian," "wise" observations.


No. 104

The young rich meet in high halls;
Colored lanterns, how dazzling and bright. 1.

Now arrives one who owns not a candle,
Hoping to sit off to one side.

He'd not expected to be forced to leave,
To return to the dark, to stay there and dwell.

Helping others—is your brightness decreased?!
Hard to believe! That you'd begrudge surplus light.

Virtually the same words are used to describe the banquet halls of the rich lord in "Hsiang-feng hsing" ( Yüeh-fu shih-chi 34, Vol. I, p. 508).

Note: Throughout the poem Han-shan clearly has in mind the story of Hsü-wu of Ch'i, recorded in the Lieh-nü chuan ( 6: 13ab). O'Hara ( The Position of Woman in Early China, pp. 182-183) translates: "Hsü-wu, the woman of Ch'i, was a poor woman in Tung-hai-shang of Ch'i, and she was in association of Li-wu, a neighboring woman.They all brought candles to pursue their weaving at night together. Hsü-wu was extremely poor and did not bring enough candles. Li-wu spoke to her associates and said, ' Hsü-wu does not bring enough candles.Please do not share the light with her at night.' Hsü-wu said, 'What is it that you say? Because I am poor I did not bring enough candles.I ordinarily rise early and go to bed late; I sprinkle, sweep, and arrange the mats, sitting always in the lowest place, all because I am poor and have not enough candles. Now, when there is one candle in the middle of the room, if one more person is added to the room, the light will not decrease; if one person goes out of the room, the light will not increase.' "


No. 105

In this world there are many wise scholars,
Who bitterly toil, probing the sources of obscure remarks. 1.

In the Three Principles 2. they stand all alone;
At the Six Arts 3. surpass other men.

Style and spirit exceptionally rare;
Excellence, excelling the crowd.

But they don't know the mind that's inside; 4.
They just pursue the external realms—chaotic, in great disarray.

Yu-wen, literally "obscure passages" or perhaps "little-known writings."
The san-tuan are the penmanship of the scholar, the swordsman-ship of the warrior, and the eloquence of the debater.
The liu-i are better known: ritual, music, archery, charioteering, writing, and mathematics.
Ko-chung i seems to have a special Buddhist sense here as "the mind that's inside" (see Tseng P'u-hsin [ Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 60]; also the translation of Iritani and Matsumura [ Kanzanshi, pp. 149 and 349]). On the surface, the expression means "the meaning in this." Note also poem 254.


No. 106 *

Layer after layer of beautiful mountains and streams;
Fog and rose-colored clouds, locking in hillsides of green.

Brushed by mountain mist, my thin cotton headband gets wet;
Morning dew dampens my raincoat of straw.

On my feet are my "travelling" sandals, 1.
In my hand, an old branch of cane.

Again I gaze out beyond the dusty world;
A realm of dreams—why should I bother with that any more?

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Yu-fang means to ramble in all four directions: this is an expression often used in relation to Buddhist and Taoist monks and nuns.


No. 107

A volume crammed with "talented genius" poems;
Jug overflowing with "The Sage" wine. 1.

Out walking, I delight in seeing oxen with their calves;
Sitting down, I keep them nearby, left and right. 2.

Frost and dew come through my thatched eaves;
Dazzling moonlight shines through my "jar hole." 3.

At such times as these I sip one or two cups
And chant poems, two or three shou. 4.

When Ts'ao Ts'ao ( 155-220) forbade the drinking of wine at the beginning of the Wei ( 220-265), nicknames were developed for various kinds of wine. "Clear" wine (the best) was called "The Sage" (sheng-jen), while "muddied" wine was called "The Worthy" (hsien-jen) (see San-kuo chih 27 [Vol. 3, p. 739]).
Presumably the poems and wine.
A weng-yu is a window formed by inlaying the mouth of a broken jar in a wall. It is a sign of poverty.
Preferring the variant of liang-san ("two or three") to wu-pai ("five hundred").


No. 108

The family Shih had two sons;
With their skills they sought service in Ch'i and Ch'u.

Learning and warfare—each prepared himself well;
Relying on what he knew, each got just the right job.

Master Meng asked about their techniques;
"My children will instruct you themselves."

But in Ch'in and Wei, both of them failed;
Miss the time, and things just don't come together. 1.

Chü-yü are teeth that are uneven and do not match up.

Comment: The tale Han-shan assumes his reader knows is found in the Lieh-tzu, Chapter 8 (8/4ab: SPPY ed.). For a translation, see A. C. Graham , The Book of Lieh-tzu ( London: John K. Murray, 1973), pp. 162-164. To summarize, a certain Mr. Shih of Lu had two sons, one skilled in learning, the other in arts of war.They got jobs respectively in Ch'i and Ch'u, where they fared well and became very rich. A Mr.Meng, who lived close by the Shihs, also had two sons, equally skilled, but they remained unemployed and poor.So Mr.Shih's sons told him what they had done to succeed. Meng's sons then traveled to Ch'in and Wei.But they did not fare well at all. The first son was castrated and banished by the ruler of Ch'in, who thought this was no time for learning to be used.The other son lost both legs in Wei, the ruler not wanting to use his skills at this time but afraid he might be employed by a neighboring state.In the end, Mr.Shih explains to Mr.Meng, "Your Way was the same as ours, yet you failed where we succeeded—not because you did the wrong things, but because you picked the wrong time to do them" (tr.Graham).


No. 109 *

Stopping for the night, the Mandarin ducks;
One drake joined with one hen.

With blossoms in bills they feed one another;
Preening their feathers, they follow each other around.

Playing, they fly into the mist and the clouds;
By evening, return to the sand on the shore.

They delight in the place where they live;
They don't try to seize Phoenix Pond! 1.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Feng-huang ch'ih was the name given in Chin dynasty times ( 265-419) to the location of the Central Secretariat (chung-shu sheng). Like the ducks, the author delights in his life as it is; he has no imperial pretensions.

Comment: In his "Nineteen Poems"—some texts say eighteen— presented to his older brother, Hsi K'ang ( 223-262) uses the pair of mandarin ducks (yüan-yang) in a similar way to symbolize the freedom he and his brother once knew (before his brother entered government service). Poem 1 in that series reads: "A mandarin drake and his mate take off, flutter flutter beat their wings.Dawn traveling to the lofty plain, at dusk to lodge at the orchid islet. Yung yung their harmonious call, looking back on their mate. Gazing up and down, noble and disinterested, carefree they sport at leisure" (translated by Peter Rushton, "An Interpretation of Hsi K'ang's Eighteen Poems Presented to Hsi Hsi on His Entry Into the Army" Journal of the American Oriental Society, 99, no. 2 ( April—June 1979): 177. For the text, see Hsi Chung-san chi 1: 16-2a).


No. 110

On occasion there are people who boast of their deeds,
Claiming their talents and arts surpass those of Chou and K'ung. 1.

But once you've seen them—they're bewildered and confused in their heads;
And when you observe them—their bodies look like those of ignorant fools.

You can pull them with a rope, but they'll never be willing to walk;
You can stab them with an awl, but they still will not move.

They're just like Master Yang's crane;
How pitiable! Standing there shaking its feathers. 2.

The Duke of Chou and Confucius.
Preferring the reading of t'ung-meng, "hair dishevelled," to the variant tung-meng, "confused in mind." "Master Yang" is Yang Hu ( A. D. 221-278), who held office under Emperor Wu of the Chin (r. 265-290). He once bragged to a guest about how well his crane could dance, but when he brought it out on display, it just stood there and shook its feathers.The story is recorded in Shih-shuo hsin-yü 25: 47. For a translation, see Richard Mather , translator, Shih-shuo Hsin-yü: A New Account of Tales of the World ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1976), p. 419.


No. 111

When I was young, I'd take the classics along when I hoed; 1.
Originally I planned to live together with my older brother.

But because I met with criticism from the other generation, 2.
I was, even more, treated coldly by my own wife. 3.

I have abandoned, rejected the realm of red dust;
Constantly I roam about with the books I love to read.

Who can lend me a dipper of water
To revive and retrieve the fish that's caught in the rut? 4.

Something any budding scholar should do. Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 157) note that the Wei-lüeh, cited in P'ei Sung-chih's notes to San-kuo chih 23 (Vol. 3, p. 659, biography of Ch'ang Lin), says this was done by the impoverished Ch'ang Lin. Watson ( Cold Mountain, p. 50) notes the same thing is said of Ni K'uan (in Han shu 58, Vol. 9, p. 2628).
Does he mean his older brother? The phrase is t'a-pei.
Han-shan might be alluding here to the well-known story of Chu Mai-ch'en, the Han woodcutter who carried his classics with him when he went to cut wood.His wife grew tired of his lack of success and left him, but she wanted to be taken back when Mai-ch'en at last became an official. See Han shu 64 (Vol. 9, 2791-2794). For a fictionalized account of the story, see Cyril Birch, translator, Stories From a Ming Collection ( New York: Grove Press, Inc. 1958), pp. 19-22.
In Chuang-tzu, Ch. 26 (p. 73), Chuang-tzu is infuriated by a feudal lord's offer of three hundred gold pieces when he goes to ask for some rice for his starving family.He says to the ruler (translation by Burton Watson, The Complete Works, p. 295): "As I was coming here yesterday, I heard someone calling me on the road.I turned around and saw that there was a perch in the carriage rut. I said to him, 'Come, perch—what are you doing here?' He replied, 'I am a Wave Official of the Eastern Sea.Couldn't you give me a dipperful of water so I can stay alive?' I said to him, 'Why, of course. I'm just about to start south to visit the kings of Wu and Yüeh. I'll change the course of the West River and send it in your direction.Will that be all right?' The perch flushed with anger and said, 'I've lost my element! I have nowhere to go! If you can get me a dipper of water, I'll be able to stay alive.But if you give me an answer like that, then you'd best look for me in the dried fish store!"' Han-shan's needs, like those of Chuang-tzu and the fish, are very few.


No. 112

Transformation and change—the calculations have no limit;
Life and death, to the end never cease.

If you live in the Three Paths, 1. you'll have a bird's body;
If in the Five Peaks, you'll be nothing more than a dragon fish. 2.

If the age is corrupt, you'll become a Mongolian goat;
But if times are pure, you'll be a Lu-erh. 3.

Last time around you were a rich kid;
This time you'll become some poor scribe.

That is, the three evil gatis (san-t'u), which are to suffer in hell, become a hungry ghost, or be reborn in animal form.
The five sacred mountains in China are Mount Sung at the center, Mount T'ai in the East, Mount Hua in the West, Mount Heng in the South, and Mount Heng in the North.The lung-yü (dragon fish) is one of the fantastic creatures described in the Shan-hai ching (Ch. 7, " Hai-wai hsi-ching," p. 224) as living in Western lands.The text says: "Lung (dragon) fish live high up, to the north.They resemble the li (wildcat). Some say this is the hsia (shrimp). The shen sheng (spirit divine) ride on them and travel the nine wildernesses.Some say the pieh (turtle) fish. This is north of Yao Wilderness.This kind of fish resembles the li (carp)" (translated by Hsiao-Chieh Cheng , Hui-Chen Pai Cheng, and Kenneth Lawrence Thern, Shan Hai Ching: Legendary Geography and Wonders of Ancient China [ Taipei: The Committee for Compilation and Examination of the Series of Chinese Classics, 1985], p. 157.) Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 158) point to a connection of the Five Peaks with Taoism, and in their translation take this line to refer to those who practice Taoist arts—such might be their fate.
Lu-erh was one of eight great steeds belonging to King Mu of the Chou (r. 1001-946). See also poem 45, note 2.

Comment: Though the second couplet, with its mention of the "three paths," seems to imply that the author ascribes to Buddhist notions of karma and fate, couplet 3 seems to assume other, non-Buddhist Chinese notions of fate—viz., that one's lot is intimately related to the nature of the times in which one is born.Note also poem 253.


No. 113

My writing and judgment were perfect—they were not weak;
But they detested my looks, so I did not receive an appointment. 1.

By the Examinations Board twisted and broken;
They "washed away the dirt and looked for the scabs and scars." 2.

Certain it is that it's all related to fate;
Still this winter again I'll try and see.

After all, with a blind boy shooting at the eye of a sparrow,
A chance hit is also not hard.

Han-shan's reference appears to be to the "selection" examinations administered to holders of degrees (there were three degrees in early T'ang—the hsiu-ts'ai, ming-ching, and chin-shih)— to determine who in the pool would actually be appointed to office (on which see Denis Twitchett, ed., The Cambridge History of China: Volume 3, Sui and T'ang China, 589-906, Part I [ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979], pp. 275-276; also Ch'en Hui-chien, Han-shan-tzu, pp. 25-26). Officials in the sixth grade and below were recruited in an annual examination held during the fifth lunar month (Han-shan says the "winter" [?]), and they were examined in four different ways: first their "writing and judgment"(shu-p'an) were tested and then their "appearance and speech"(shen-yen) (see Robert des Le Rotours Traité des Examens: Traduit de la Nouvelle Histoire des T'ang, Ch. XLIV, XLV [ Paris: Librairie Ernest Leroux, 1932], pp. 42-44 and 213-222; for the original text—the T'ang "Treatise on Selection of Officials"—see Hsin T'ang shu 45, Vol. 4, pp. 1171-1172).
i.e., they were bound and determined to find something wrong. The saying apparently goes back to a piece called "Tz'u-shih chi-hsien fu" by Chao I, recorded in Hou Han shu 80 (Vol. 9, p. 2631), where, of those who select others for office, he comments: "With those they like, they bore a hole in the skin to let out the feathers and fur; with those they dislike, they wash away the dirt and look for the scabs and scars."


No. 114

For a poor ass, one foot will be insufficient,
While for a rich dog, three inches will be more than he needs. 1.

If you divide things in two, it will not be fair to the poor,
But if the middle portion is again divided in half, the rich will also be in straits. 2.

If we begin to make the donkey full and content,
Then, to the contrary, we will make the dog hungry and distressed.

When I think it through carefully for you,
It makes me both sad and depressed.

More precisely in terms of the grammar, "The poor ass will consider one foot to be lacking; [While] the rich dog will find three inches to be a surplus." I think it is relevant that the ass is a bigger animal than the dog; thus "natural" needs differ.
Translation is tentative, but I think the point is to now give the ass three-quarters of the lot and the dog one-quarter.

Comment: Iritani and Matusmura ( Kanzanshi, p. 161) understand the poem to be a criticism of "mechanistic egalitarianism," which would distribute material goods equally to all.But Han-shan's point seems to be that people's needs are not the same.


No. 115

"Young" Mr. Liu—he's eighty-two;
"Old" Mrs. Lan—she's all of eighteen!

Man and wife together for one hundred years;
Mutual affection—their feelings chaotic and unrestrained.

Playing with jade, he's nicknamed "the tiger"; 1.
Tossing down tiles, she's called "chubby cheeks." 2.

One frequently sees, with the shoots put out by withering poplars,
They meet with death [at the hands of] Blue Maid. 3.

For wu-t'u as another name for the tiger, see Read, Chinese Materia Medica: Animal Drugs, item 351.
Kuan-na describes baby girls that are pretty and plump. On the objects of jade and tile played with by small children, see Shih189. Karlgren ( The Book of Odes, p. 131) translates: "And so he bears sons; they lay them on a bed, they dress them in skirts, they give them as toys (chang‐ jades:) jade insignia; they cry shrilly . . . And so he bears daughters; they lay them on the ground; they dress them in wrappers; they give them as toys spinning-whorls; they shall have nothing but simplicity." James Legge ( The Chinese Classics, Vol. 4, The She King, p. 306) notes on the lines: "The boy is placed on a couch—to do him honour; the daughter on the ground, to show her meanness. Ch'ang, 'the lower garment,' must be taken for robes generally.The boy is to be arrayed in full dress, while a swaddling cloth will be sufficient for the girl. Chang is a piece of jade fashioned into the shape of a half-mace, used in worshipping Spirits and as a symbol of dignity.The boy gets one of these to play with, while the girl gets only a tile, the emblem of her future employment, when, on a tile upon her knee, she will have to twist the threads of hemp."
"Blue Maid"(ch'ing-nü) is the Goddess of Frost, and it is the frost in the fall that will kill off new shoots from the tree."

Note: In the symbolism of the poem, the "Blue Maid" is not only the Goddess of Frost, she is also "Old Mrs. Lan"(since lan, like ch'ing, means "blue"), and in killing off the shoots of the poplar, she is killing off "Young Mr. Liu's" new children (since "poplar" is yang, which alone can mean the aspen or poplar, but which in combination with liu [yang-liu] means the willow). The "poplar in fall sprouting shoots" as metaphor for an old man marrying a young bride is referred to in the I ching (Hexagram 28, " Takuo," nine in the second place; p. 128). Wilhelm( The I Ching or Book of Changes, p. 113) translates: "Nine in the second place means: A dry poplar sprouts at the root.An older man takes a young wife. Everything furthers." For Han-shan's attitude toward this kind of marriage, see also poem 128.


No. 116

There are so many vagrants starving and cold
Who see their lives as different than those of fishes and beasts.

Yet forever they're found beneath the grindstones, 1.
Constantly crying in nooks by the side of the road.

Day after day vainly thinking of rice;
All winter long not knowing the warmth of a coat.

All they receive is a bundle of hay,
That and five pints of bran. 2.

Like animals; the variant of "beneath temple rocks"(miao-shih) works as well.
i.e., they are little better off than the animals after all.


No. 117

Outstanding! This little jug store;
Their wine—so rich and so thick.

Quite charming! Their high-flying banners;
They squint their eyes [to make sure] their measures are fair.

What is the reason they have no sales?
In their house they have lots of fierce dogs.

If a lad wishes to come buy some wine,
The dogs bite him and then off he goes.

Comment: Behind all of this lies the following story recorded in the Han-fei-tzu (" Wai chu-shuo, yu-shang," Han-fei-tzu chi-shih 13, p. 737): "Once there was a Sung man selling wine.His measures were very fair. His reception of customers was very courteous. The wine he made was excellent. He hoisted his banner in an imposing manner. Yet he had no business and the wine would become sour. Wondering at the cause, he asked his acquaintance, an elder of the village, named Yang Ching. 'It is because your dog is fierce,' replied Ching. 'If my dog is fierce, why does my wine not sell well?' 'Because customers are afraid of it. When people send out children with money and pots or jars to buy wine from you, your dog would jump at them and sometimes bite them. This is the reason why your wine does not sell well and becomes sour."' The narrator goes on to draw the moral of this story in political terms. "Indeed, the state has dogs too. Thus experts in statecraft, bearing the right tact in mind, want to enlighten the sovereign of ten thousand chariots, whereas ministers like the fierce dog of the wine merchant would jump at them and bite them. This is the reason why the lord of men is deluded and experts in statecraft are not taken into service" (translated by W. K. Liao, The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu [ London: Arthur Probsthain, 1959], Vol. 2, p. 105). Watson's suggestion ( Cold Mountain , p. 95) that the butt of Han- shan's sarcasm is Buddhist clergy is very appealing. Note that the "lad" of line 7— t'ung- tzu —also means "neophyte" in Buddhism.


No. 118

Alas! This place of corruption and filth; 1.
Demons 2. mixed together with men of worth.

If you say these are all the same group, 3.
How would we know that the Tao has no favorites? 4.

The fox pretends to the lion's position;
The crafty and false, to the contrary, are called "rare."

But when lead ore is put into the stove,
Then you will know this "gold" is not really real 5.

"Corruption and filth"—which is a good translation for cho-lan— fails to pick up some subtle suggestions relevant later on. Cho is muddy water—i.e., things are confused and mixed up; neat distinctions cannot be made—and lan can mean something false and not true.
Literally, rākṣasas, lo-ch'a.
i.e., make no distinction between the two.
Alluding to the last line of Lao-tzu, Ch. 79. Chan ( The Way of Lao Tzu, p. 237) translates: "The Way of Heaven has no favorites.It is always with the good man."
Fake gold made by using lead would melt more quickly than the real thing. Following the variant of chen ("real") for chih ("knowledge").


No. 119 *

Farmers, to escape from the hot summer months,
A dipper of wine—with whom enjoy?

Scattered about, rows of fresh mountain fruit;
Here and there, surrounding them, goblets of wine.

Roots from rushes will serve for their seats,
Leaves of the plantain, moreover, fill in for plates.

Once drunk, they sit with chins propped on hands,
And Mount Sumeru seems as small as a crossbow pellet. 1.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
i.e., all distinctions between small and large, significant and unimportant, are blurred. In the writings of the T'ien-t'ai school, Mount Sumeru (Hsü-mi)—or Mount Meru—and a "mustard seed" are sometimes used as stock images for large and small.Since all things have their basis in thought and thought alone is their substance, Mount Sumeru and a mustard seed are exactly the same—that is, as thoughts being thought, they occupy the exact same space in the mind.See, for example, the passages quoted in Fung Yu-lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy (tr.Derk Bodde) ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 1953), Vol. II, p. 372.

Note: The poet T'ao Ch'ien ( 360-427) has a poem that in many ways resembles this, and makes much the same point but in a Taoist way.It is poem 14 in his twenty "Drinking Wine" poems. J. R. Hightower's ( The Poetry of T'ao Ch'ien [ Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970], pp. 144-145) translation follows:

Sympathetic friends who know my taste
Bring a wine jug when they come to visit.
Sitting on the ground beneath the pine trees
A few cups of wine makes us drunk.
Venerable elders gabbing all at once
And pouring from the bottle out of turn.
Aware no more that our own 'I' exists,
How are we to value other things?
So rapt we are not sure of where we are—
In wine there is a taste of profundity.


No. 120

This is what poor scribe
Who repeatedly comes to be tested at Southern Court? 1.

Years? Possibly thirty or more;
He's already passed through four or five selections.

Inside his bag, he has no "blue beetles"; 2.
Inside his basket, no yellow scrolls. 3.

Were he to walk up to a food stand,
He'd not even dare turn his head for a brief moment!

According to Ch'en Hui-chien ( Han-shan-tzu, pp. 25-26), the "Southern Court" (nan-yüan) is where the list of names of people selected for office was posted.However, this refers to the examinations administered to men who had attained a degree but as yet received no appointment (see note 1 to poem 113; also note Twitchett, ed., The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 3, p. 276, on the meaning of hsüan, "selections"). Hucker ( A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China [ Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1985] p. 342, item 4136) on nan-yüan notes: "Established in 734 in the Bureau of Appointments (li-pu) of the Ministry of Personnel (also li-pu); responsible for determining seniority and reputation as elements considered in the reappointment or dismissal of an official." Ch'en Hui-chien says the office was established either in 734 or 740.
i.e., no money. For the story of how water beetles (ch'ing-fu) came to mean coins, see Bernard Read, Chinese Materia Medica: Insect Drugs ... ( Taipei: Southern Materials Center, 1977), p. 69, item 24. Chinese tradition about the water beetle holds that "if the mother be killed and smeared on money and the eggs smeared on the strings of cash, after the money is spent, it will return of its own accord to the original owner."
No books.


No. 121 *†

If you're someone who constantly has daily needs,
You must be sparing of covetous thoughts.

As you get old, you will not be free,
And you'll gradually be rejected by others.

Sent off to the top of some desolate hill, 1.
The hopes of a lifetime in vain thrown away.

If, when the sheep have escaped, you give up fixing the pen,
Your disappointments 'til the end will not cease. 2.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
i.e., to be buried.
i.e., it is never too late to reform. "Wang-yang pu-lao" ("lost sheep, fix pen") is a set expression with this meaning.As early as the Chan‐ kuo ts'e, we find Chuang Hsin saying to the king of Ch'u: "I have heard peasants say, 'it's not too late to hail the hound when the hare's started, nor to repair the pen when the sheep has bolted"' (translated by J. I. Crump , Chan-kuo Ts'e [ San Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, 1979], p. 264).

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


No. 122

Wastefully they constructed their "reaching the clouds" pavilions; 1.
In vain ascended their towers of one hundred feet.

They nourished their lives, and still they died young;
Though they entice you to study—will you receive feudal rank?!

It's useless to follow the "yellow bills";
Why must you detest turning grey? 2.

You must never be straight like an arrow;
However, you must also never be bent like a hook. 3.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 170) point out that Emperor Ming of the Wei ( Ts'ao Jui; r. 227-239) constructed a tower by this name in 237, but that here this name might be generic.
"Yellow bills" (huang-k'ou) are young sparrows, and Han-shan clearly has in mind the following story recorded in Liu Hsiang's Shuo-yüan ( 10: 10b): "Confucius saw a netter, and what he had caught was all young birds. Confucius said, 'Why is it that the yellow bills were all caught while the large sparrows alone were not?' The netter replied: 'Of the yellow bills—those that follow the big sparrows are not caught; of the big sparrows—those that follow the yellow bills can be caught.' Confucius turned and said to his disciples: 'The gentleman is careful about whom he follows: if he is not someone good, then there is the danger of traps and nets!"' Han-shan's allusion to this anecdote has double significance.On the one hand, he feels the pursuit of youth (to be a "yellow bill") is in vain; on the other, the story illustrates that pursuit of rank can be fraught with danger (i.e., if one "follows" the wrong group).
This appears to be an allusion to a popular children's song at the time of Emperor Shun of the Han (r. 126-144) which went: "The upright get cut like bow strings and die; the crooked, to the contrary, get feudal rank" (see Iritani and Matsumura, Kanzanshi, p. 170; they cite the source as Hou han shu103.) Han-shan's point seems to be that one should never be so good (upright) that he would end up getting rank and thus dying young, and never be so corrupt that he would bend his principles to accord with the situation.


No. 123 **

Clouds on the mountain piled up in layers, touching Heaven's azure blue;
Pathways secluded, forests deep— no travellers rambling out here.

In the distance I gaze at the lonely toad, 1. shining so dazzling bright;
Nearby I hear a flock of birds, chirping away—tweet tweet.

An elderly man sits all alone, perched upon his green peak;
Here at Few Homes retired he lives, 2. letting his head turn gray.

How sad! That past years and now present days,
Unaware, have just like the rivers flowed east.

Seven-character lines.
The Chinese find a toad (ch'an) and hare (t'u) in the moon.For some interesting observations on this, see Chapter 5 ("The Bird in the Sun and the Hare in the Moon") in Michael Loewe's Ways to Paradise: The Chinese Quest for Immortality ( London: George Allen & Unwin, 1979), pp. 127-133.
"Few Homes" (Shao-shih) is one of the peaks on Mount Sung in Honan.The famous Shao-lin Monastery, where Bodhidharma reputedly sat facing a wall meditating for nine years, is located here.


No. 124

In homes of the wealthy and ranked, even distant kin will collect;
Only because there's lots of money and rice.

While from homes of the humble and poor, even blood kin will depart,
And it has no relation to the fact that the number of brothers is few. 1.

Hurry! You must return! 2.
They're calling for worthies 3.—but the council door's not yet been opened.

It's a waste to walk on Vermilion Bird Street4.
Wearing out the soles of your leather shoes.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 173) point out that the opening lines of Ts'ao Shu's (?-308) "Kan-chiu shih" ( Wen-hsüan 29: 20b, p. 406) are very similar: "In the homes of the wealthy and ranked, strangers will gather; In homes of the humble and poor, even relatives will leave."
Appropriately using the words kuei ch'ü-lai, the title of T'ao Ch'ien's rhapsody on his own "return" from the life of the official to that of farming being "Kuei ch'ü-lai hsi tz'u."
Chao-hsien indicates an official government call for worthies to serve.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 173) locate "Vermilion Bird Street" (chu-ch'üeh chieh) in the capital of Ch'ang-an: Edward Schafer ( The Vermilion Bird: T'ang Images of the South [ Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1967], p. 259) adds that the entrance to the " 'old' palace of early T'ang ... was named 'Gate of the Vermilion Sparrow."'


No. 125

I've seen one stupid man
Who still lives with two or three wives.

They've raised now eight or nine sons,
Always going along with whatever seems right at the time.

"Males and Households"—that's the new levy; 1.
Wealth and goods, not something he formerly had.

When you see the Yellow Bark serving as the ass's crupper, 2.
Then you start to know that bitterness comes at the end.

If we follow the variant of hu for fang—though more on this below—the line thus reads ting-hu shih hsin ch'ai.Ting ("taxable male, aged 21-59") and hu ("household") were the two common bases used for taxation during the T'ang, with the emphasis, before 780 at least, on the former (see D. C. Twitchett, Financial Administration Under the T'ang Dynasty [ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970], pp. 24-48). The "household levy" (hu-shui) varied in accord with the "grade" ranking of the household, the grade being determined by the size and property of the household.Before 780, the "household levy' was part of a system known as "selective impositions" (ch'ai-k'o); with the tax reform system of 780, the household tax and the land tax became the two most important taxes, forming what is known as the "two tax system" (liang-shui fa). Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 174-174) speculate that this line might reflect the reform of 780, though I fail to see why a household with nine or ten taxable males, but otherwise poor, would suffer under the new regime.
Read ( Chinese Medicinal Plants, p. 106, item 354) identifies huang-po as "Yellow Bark" (Phellodendron amurense). Stuart ( Chinese Materia Medica: Vegetable Kingdom, pp. 316-317) notes that Yellow Bark is a tree that "grows to the height of thirty or forty feet, having a whitish outer bark and an inner yellow one.The latter is used in dyeing silk yellow, as well as in medicine. The drug, as it appears in the market, is in square or rectangular pieces, from three to five inches long, rough on the outer surface, and smooth, or striated longitudinally, on the inner surface. The interior is of a deep yellow color, and the taste is very bitter." The "crupper" (ch'iu) is a loop tied to a horse's tail and then fastened to the saddle.
There is a second, quite different, way to read this line. If we go with the variant fang instead of hu , the line might then read, "'Male Defender'''— this is his new assignment," meaning that the father of the poem (or his sons?) has been conscripted to serve in the army, and his family is bound to suffer, since he has put no money aside. Ch'en Hui- chien ( Han‐ shan- tzu, p. 222) would read the line in this way.


No. 126

The new grain is still not yet ripe;
The old grain is already gone. 1.

Off to borrow a peck or so,
I stand hesitant outside the gate.

The old man came out and told me to go ask his wife;
Then his wife came out and sent me to ask the old man.

Being sparing 2. won't save the poor;
The more goods people have, the more their stupidity piles up.

Very similar lines open the preface to a poem by T'ao Ch'ien which Hightower translated as "Inspired by Events" ( The Poetry of T'ao Ch'ien, p. 165): "The old grain is gone, and the new is not yet harvested."
Ch'ien-hsi, "to be sparing, economical," which in other circum-stances might be praiseworthy.


No. 127

There are a good many affairs that deserve a good laugh;
I'll just briefly present three or four.

Duke Chang with his wealth indulged in luxury, 1.
While Mencius with his poverty was disappointed and frustrated. 2.

He just chose the dwarfs to be full,
Not caring that Fang-shuo might starve. 3.

With Pa songs the singers are many,
But with "White Snow" nobody chimes in. 4.

The "Duke Chang" Han-shan has in mind is presumably the Mr. Chang, alluded to in Shih-chi129 (Vol. 10, p. 3282), who became rich by selling broth (or paste?—chiang).
The well-known Confucian philosopher—fl. 320 B. C. Han-shan cleverly uses the name of Mencius—Meng K'o—in describing his frustration—k'an-k'o.
Alluding to a story in the biography of the Han statesman Tung‐ fang Shuo ( Han shu 65, Vol. 9, p. 2843), where Tung is put out that he—a man of great talent and height—is paid the same as the dwarfs who work in the stable.He speaks out to the emperor (translated by Burton Watson, Courtier and Commoner in Ancient China [ New York: Columbia University Press, 1974], p. 81): "The dwarfs are somewhat over three feet in height, and as a stipend they receive one sack of grain and 240 cash each.I am somewhat over nine feet in height, and as a stipend I too receive one sack of grain and 240 cash. The dwarfs are about to die of overeating; I am about to die of hunger. If my words are of any use, I hope I may be treated differently from them. If my words are of no use, then dismiss me. There's no point in merely keeping me around to eat up the rice of Ch'ang-an!"
In "Sung Yü tui Ch'u-wang wen" ( Sung Yü Replies to the Question of the King of Ch'u, Wen-hsüan 45: 1b-2b, p. 619), King Hsiang of Ch'u asks Sung Yü if he is guilty of some misdeed such that he is not praised more by the common people. Sung Yü in his response notes that in Ying there are some singers who start off by singing the song "Hsia-li Pa-jen" (Bottom Village—People of Pa), a song which is so well known and popular that several thousands of people join in.But when they sing "White Snow in the Spring" (Yang-ch'un pai-hsüeh), "those in the state who gather together and sing along are not more than several tens of people." He concludes from this that "the higher [in quality] the tune, the fewer [in number] those who can sing along." Clearly Sung Yü's conduct is of such high caliber that the common people don't even know about it.


No. 128

When an old man takes a young bride,
She won't stand it when his hair turns gray.
When an old woman weds a young gent,
He won't love her with her sallow face.
When an old man takes an old woman,
On both sides there will be no rejection.
When a young woman weds a young gent,
Both have a manner of tender concern.


No. 129

Majestic and stately that beautiful youth;
Widely read in the histories and classics.

Everyone calls him "Teacher";
All praise him as "Scholar."

He's not yet been able to gain official employment,
But he doesn't understand how to hold the handle of a plow.

In the winter he'll wear a tattered old gown;
I'm afraid this is being misled by one's books!


No. 130

The birds chat and converse 1.—feelings I can't really bear; 2.
At times like these, I lie down in my straw hut.

Cherries, in reds that sparkle and glisten;
Willows so straight—branches like hair hanging down.

Morning sun—swallowed up by green peaks;
White, puffy clouds—washed clean in clear mountain lakes.

Who there knows to leave the dust and the vulgar, 3.
And drive up the South face of Han-shan?

There is a variant of "play"(nung) for "converse" (yü).
Birds in a flock talking to one another often painfully remind the recluse of family and friends far away. Here Han-shan's feelings seem rather to be those of joy.
Addressing people in the world.


No. 131 *

Yesterday—so far away;
In that garden, so charming and sweet.

Above me, pathways through peaches and plums;
Below me, calamus isle.

In addition, a woman in very fine silks;
In her cottage—wearing kingfisher feathers and plumes.

When we met, I wished to call out,
But choked up, I just couldn't speak. 1.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Using virtually the same words we find in the last line of poem 10 of the "Nineteen Old Poems" (see Wen-hsüan 29: 5a, p. 399), a poem describing the lovestruck separation of the two constellations Herd Boy and Weaving Girl. Watson ( Chinese Lyricism, p. 28) translates the poem: "Far far away, the Herdboy Star; bright bright, the Lady of the River of Heaven; slim slim, she lifts a pale hand, clack clack, plying the shuttle of her loom, all day long—but the pattern's never finished; welling tears fall like rain. The River of Heaven is clear and shallow; what a little way lies between them! only the span of a single brimming stream—they gaze and gaze and cannot speak."

Comment: I think Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi , p. 187) are right in reading the poem at face value: the poet describes a lovely garden or park ( ch'ang- t'ing- yüan ) and a lovely woman he encountered there. It is tempting to see something more underneath, since peaches and plums and calamus (for lan- sun as "calamus," see Bernard Read, Chinese Medicinal Plants , p. 228, item 703) are all Taoist foods of long life and thus could stand here for that goal (the Shen Nung pen- ts'ao ching [1. 10b] notes that calamus [ ch'ang- p'u ] "opens the holes in the heart," "repairs the five organs," "makes the ear hear clearly and the eyes see well"). Also, ch'ang can mean tao- ch'ang , which in Buddhism can mean "the place of enlightenment." Ch'en Hui- chien ( Han- shan- tzu , pp. 175- 176), by contrast, notes metaphorical associations of "older and younger brothers," and "students" and "beautiful virtue" with peaches and plums, and the "beautiful worthiness of sons and grandsons" with calamus, suggesting the ch'ang in line 2 has something to do with the "place" where examinations were held.


No. 132

A man should never stay poor;
If you're penniless you must manage and plan.

When you raise only one cow,
She will produce all of five calves.

The calves will also bear young,
And the numbers will add up, on and on without end.

I send this message to Master Chu of T'ao:
My wealth is the same as yours. 1.

For the story of Master Chu of T'ao—alias Fan Li—and the wealth he amassed over the years through smart real estate deals, cultivated and added to by his sons and grandsons, see Shih-chi129, " Huo-chih," Vol. 10, p. 3257.

Note: Han-shan was of course concerned about the lot of the poor.But one wonders if the message here is not symbolic. If one builds up good deeds, beginning with only one, the reward in the end is substantial.


No. 133

This man 1.—how anxious and ill at ease;
In divining where to live, you must take care of yourself.

In the south, malaria and miasmas abound;
In the North lands, the winds and frost are severe.

In desolate corners one cannot live;
Poisoned streams—it's not good to drink;

My soul! [I call to you] to return; 2.
Eat the mulberries in my family's grove.

Using the archaic Shih ching formula chih-tzu (see Shih6, 9, 12, 28, or 156), though the complete formula is chih-tzu yü-kuei, "this woman (or man) is going home." Thus right from the start, the poem carries with it the sense of "returning home."
Again the Chinese is kuei ch'ü-lai; see note 2 to poem 124.

Note: Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 191) show how Han-shan's poem follows the stages and themes of "Chao-hun" in the Ch'u-tz'u ( Ch'utz'u pu-chu 9: 1a-15b, pp. 83-90; translated by David Hawkes, The Songs of the South, pp. 219-231). There the soul is encouraged to come back home by alternatively being shown the horrors that await it in the various directions of space and the delights that await it back home (including the good things it can eat). The last line of "Chao hun" is, "O soul, come back! Alas for the Southern Land!" (translated by Hawkes, The Songs of the South, p. 230).


No. 134

Last night I dreamed I went back home
And saw my wife in the midst of weaving at her loom.

She halted the shuttle, as though she had just had a thought,
Then she lifted the shuttle; it was as though she had lost all her strength.

I called to her—she turned to look;
Her response a blank stare—she didn't recognize me.

It must be we've been apart now so many years
That my temple hair is not its old color.

Note: See poem 39.


No. 135

Man's life does not fill one hundred;
Yet he harbors the grief of one thousand years. 1.

Though for yourself, your illness might start to improve;
In addition, you must fret for your sons and grandsons as well.

Below—examine the bottoms of the roots of the grain;
Above—look to the tops of the mulberry trees. 2.

When the balance weight drops into the Eastern sea, 3.
You will finally begin to know you can rest.

Almost word for word the opening lines of poem 15 of the "Nineteen Old Poems" ( Wen-hsüan 29:7a, p. 400). For a translation, see Burton Watson , Chinese Lyricism, pp. 29-30. See also poem 22.
i.e., in life one must worry about every single detail from start to finish.
i.e., when you die, the balance is used to weigh out the worth of one's deeds.


No. 136

In this world there is one kind of group,
Blank and vacant like some block of wood!

When they speak, they show they know nothing,
Yet they say, "We don't have a single concern."

If you ask them about the Way—the Way they don't understand;
If you ask them about the Buddha—the Buddha they do not seek.

If you explore the matter in great detail,
Boundless! You'll drown in an ocean of grief.


No. 137

Master Tung when he was young,
He'd come and go in the capital. 1.

His shirt made of soft gosling yellow;
Appearance and manner—like that you'd see in a print.

Always rode on a "treading snow" horse; 2.
In light puffs the red dust would be raised.

Observers filled the sides of the road, 3.
Asking, "This is the son of what clan?"4.

Apparently meaning Tung Hsien, the intimate favorite of Emperor Ai of the Han (r. 6 B. C.-1 A. D.), who was forced to commit suicide after Ai died (see Han shu 93, Vol. II, pp. 3733-3741).
i.e., a horse whose hooves are all white.
The same words are found in the yüeh-fu "Chi-ming" (cock crow)— Yüeh-fu shih-chi, Vol. I, p. 406—a song that also describes the rise and fall of those whose rank depends on political ties.
The same question is asked in Ts'ao Chih's " Pai-ma p'ien." See poem 54, note 1.


No. 138

This is the son of what clan?
He is a man who is hated a lot.

Doltish mind—always indignant and angry;
Eyes of flesh—like he's drunk, everything in a haze.

He sees the Buddha and yet does not bow,
Runs into monks but does not give them alms.

All he knows is how to cut up large pieces of meat;
Beyond this he has not one skill.


No. 139

People take their bodies as basic,
And in what is basic, it's the mind that's in control.

When the "basic" exists, the mind must not be depraved;
If the mind is depraved you'll lose your "basic" life. 1.

If you cannot yet avoid this disaster,
Why speak of carelessly using a mirror? 2.

Not reading the Diamond-sūtra3.
Would make even a bodhisattva get ill. 4.

Pen-ming means, at one and the same time, "the life that is basic or fundamental" and "one's own life."
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 199) cite a line from the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (Ch. 34) in which the Nirvāṇa-sūtra is compared to a mirror that all sentient beings should look into to see who they really are.But looking at oneself in a mirror (chao-ching) was forbidden to monks under normal circumstances, and I think the point here is that having a "correct mind" is more important than obeying nit-picking rules.
A favorite sūtra of the Chinese and a text closely connected with the life of Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen.For a translation, see Edward Conze , Buddhism Wisdom Books: The Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra ( New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1972).
Though Tseng P'u-hsin's interpretation ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 81) is that if all living things are ill—because they do not know the one mind— then a bodhisattva will also be ill.

Note: This poem is similar in style to a number of other poems (see, for example, 149) in which Han-shan uses the same words in different lines and positions to say different things.Here the words are hsin ("mind") and pen ("basic") in lines 1-4.


No. 140

North of the city lives old man Chung;
His family has lots of meat and wine.

When old man Chung's wife died,
The mourners filled the courtyards and rooms.

When old Chung himself passed away,
Not one single person cried. 1.

Those who ate and drank of his cups and his chops,
How could they be so cold inside? 2.

On neng-wu as a strong negative, see poem 55, note 1.
So cold in "stomach and heart" (hsin-fu). Han-shan may be playing on the fact that wine and meat normally warm one's insides.


No. 141

When the lowly ignorant read my poems, 1.
They don't understand—moreover, they snidely chuckle and jeer.

When the average and common read my poems,
They think them over saying, "Very important."

When the highest worthies read my poems,
They hold them firmly in hand, grinning from ear to ear.

When Yang Hsiu saw the words "young wife,"
One look, and he knew that it was "sublime." 2.

"Stupid folks at the bottom" (hsia-yü), the locus classicus of the expression being Confucius' remark (in Analects 17: 2, p. 35) about the stupid folks at the bottom and the intelligent people at the top. D. C. Lau ( Confucius: The Analects [ New York: Penguin Books, 1979], p. 143) translates: "The Master said, 'It is only the most intelligent and the most stupid who are not susceptible to change."' In the first three couplets Han-shan clearly mimics the opening of Ch. 41 of the Lao-tzu. Chan ( The Way of Lao Tzu [ Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1963], p. 174) translates: "When the highest type of men hear Tao, They half believe in it.When the lowest type of men hear Tao, They laugh heartily at it.If they did not laugh at it, it would not be Tao."
He knew the word was miao, the character miao being composed of the elements nü, "woman," and shao, "young"; the clue was yu-fu, "young woman (or wife or bride)." Yang Hsiu was Superintendent of Records (chupu) under Ts'ao Ts'ao ( A. D. 155-220). For the anecdote to which Han-shan alludes, in which Yang Hsiu immediately unravels the riddle written on the back of a stele for Ts'ao Ts'ao, see Shih-shuo hsin-yü chiao-chien 11, no. 3, 441. Mather ( Shih-shuo Hsin-yü: A New Account of Tales of the World [ Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1976], p. 293) translates: "Ts'ao Ts'ao once passed beneath the memorial stele to the maid Ts'ao O (in K'uai-chi, Chekiang) while Yang Hsiu was accompanying him.On the back of the stele they saw an inscription in eight characters: 'Huang-chüan yu-fu wai-sun chi-chiu,' literally, 'Yellow pongee, youthful wife, maternal grandson, ground in mortar.' Ts'ao Ts'ao asked Hsiu, 'Do you understand it?' He replied 'Yes.' Ts'ao Ts'ao said, 'Don't tell me; wait while I think about it.' After they had traveled on for thirty li, Ts'ao Ts'ao finally said, 'I've got it!' He then had Hsiu record separately what he had understood it to mean. Hsiu wrote, '"Yellow pongee" is colored silk (se-ssu), which, combined in one character, is chüeh, "utterly." "Youthful wife" is young woman (shao‐ nü),which, combined in one character, is miao, "wonderful." "Maternal grandson" is a daughter's son (nü-tzu), which, combined in one character, is hao, "lovely." "Ground in a mortar"is to suffer hardship (shou-hsin), which, combined in one character, is tz'u, "words." Ts'ao Ts'ao had also recorded it in the same way that Hsiu had.Sighing, he said, 'My ability is thirty li slower than yours!"' The point here is that intelligent people will also recognize at a glance that Han-shan's poems are "sublime," "utterly wonderful, lovely words!"


No. 142

By nature there are those who are stingy and close,
But I'm not in the stingy-close group.

My clothes are simple—worn for the purpose of dance;
My wine is all gone—I sip because I sing.

I always take one bellyful,
Which never makes my two feet get tired. 1.

When the daisies worm their way into your skull,
On this day, sir, you'll repent!

i.e., he is like the mole in Chapter 1 of the Chuang-tzu, who only drinks until he is full, taking no more than he needs. Watson ( The Complete Works, p. 32) translates: "When the mole drinks at the river, he takes no more than a bellyful" ( Chuang-tzu, Ch. 1, p. 2, lines 25-26).


No. 143

Out walking, I pass through some old, ancient graves;
The tears now are all gone—but I sigh for the living and the dead.

One tomb broken open, crushing the outer coffin; 1.
The inner coffin laid bare—disclosing all the white bones.

Slanting off to one side—earthenware bottles and urns;
Though I sort and pick through—here are no cap-clasps or tablets of jade. 2.

The wind comes up, stirring up the insides;
Ashes and dust, scattered about in the air.

Literally, crush the huang-ch'ang, "yellow innards," the yellow innards being the heart-wood of the cypress (po), from which outer coffins (kuo) were made.
Ts'an-hu, worn and held by high ranking officials during imperial audience—i.e., this is the grave of someone poor.


No. 144

The evening sun sinks 1. beneath western hills;
Grasses and trees reflect its dazzling glow.

What's more, there are places here dim and dark,
Where pines and creepers meet up and join.

And here, so many crouching tigers;
When they see me—manes rapidly stand up on end.

In my hand—not so much as a single inch blade;
How could I not fearfully tremble and shake?

Reading the variant of hsia, "goes down," for ho, "shine."

Note: I think the poem is symbolic, and the symbolism seems to say that late in life (setting sun), even though there are things about oneself that are clear and understood, perhaps even things of which one can be proud (i.e., that dazzle like the grasses and trees), there remain hidden pockets where feelings and passions lie in wait (crouching tigers). Against these attacks, Han-shan feels impotent and helpless.Not only do tigers lie in wait in places "dim and dark" (meng-lung), they wait where "pines and creepers" (sung-lo) meet.Since pine trees stand for long life, could the point here be that tangled feelings cut off and choke our chances for long life?


No. 145

Go into the world, 1. and you're bound to be troubled and disturbed.
The affairs of the world are not all alike.

I'm not yet able to leave common customs behind;
It is these that follow me around.

Yesterday we mourned the death of Hsü Number Five;
Today we escort Liu the Third to his grave.

All day long I've been unable to rest; 2.
Because of this, my heart is saddened and grieved.

Ch'u-shen normally means to enter government service, but that does not seem directly relevant here. Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 206-207) take ch'u-shen to mean "leave one's body" and enter nirvana, which to me makes no sense at all.
There is a variant of "day after day" (jih-jih) for "all day long" (chung-jih).


No. 146

If you have music, 1. then you must enjoy;
"Now is the time! It cannot be missed." 2.

Though they say we have one hundred years;
Can you live the full thirty thousand days? 3.

Our stay in the world—but a brief moment;
When you talk about money, never make all that racket and noise!

The last chapter of the Classic of Filial Piety
In great detail sets out the complete situation. 4.

Or "happiness"—lo or yüeh—but music seems more in keeping with the allusion in the last line.
These are the exact words spoken by King Wu of the Chou when he was about to attack the Shang.See "T'ai-shih" ( The Great Declaration) in the Shu ( Shang-shu K'ung chuan 6: 2b). Legge (modern edition by Clae Waltham , Shu Ching: Book of History [ Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1971], p. 115) translates: "What the people desire, Heaven will effect.You must aid me, the One Man, to cleanse for ever all within the four seas. Now is the time! It should not be lost."
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 208) see in these four lines yet another allusion to poem 15 of the "Nineteen Old Poems" (see poems 22 and 135). Watson ( Chinese Lyricism, p. 29) translates that poem: "Man's years fall short of a hundred; a thousand years of worry crowd his heart.If the day is short, and you hate the long night, why not take the torch and go wandering? Seek out happiness in season; who can wait the year to come? Fools who cling too fondly to gold earn no more than posterity's jeers. Prince Ch'iao, that immortal man—small hope we have of matching him!"
The last chapter of the Hsiao-ching being Chapter 18, "Sang-ch'in" (Mourning for Kin). This includes the injunction that at such times "Though one hears music, one is not happy" (wen-yüeh pu-lo).


No. 147

Alone I sit, constantly disappointed and sad;
My feelings and innermost thoughts—how troubled they are and forlorn.

The clouds at the waist of the mountain spread out thick and dense;
The wind at the mouth of the valley—mournfully it sighs and moans.

Gibbons come—the trees shiver and shake;
Birds enter the woods—their singing echoes tweet, tweet.

Pressed now by the times, my temple hair dishevelled hangs down.
At the end of the year, I'm old, filled with pain and regret.

Note: See poem 31. Here Han-shan ends each line with a reduplicated binome.The poem would be romanized as follows:

Tu-tso ch'ang hu-hu;
Ch'ing-huai ho yu-yu.

Shan-yao yün man-man;
Ku-k'ou feng sou-sou.

Yüan lai shu niu-niu;
Niao ju lin chiu-chiu.

Shih ts'ui pin sa-sa;
Sui-chin lao ch'ou-ch'ou.


No. 148

One man with good belly and head;
The Six Arts, he knows them all well. 1.

When seen in the South, he's chased back to the North;
When encountered 2. in the West, he's rushed off to the East.

Always drifting, like floating duckweed; 3.
Never resting, like blown-about bramble. 4.

You ask, this is what type or sort?
His surname is Poor, his name Impoverished.

The liu-i being the six classic teachings of Confucians: the Book of Poetry (Shih), the Book of Documents (Shu), the Record of Rites (Li-chi), the Music (Yüeh), the Book of Changes (I ching), and the Spring and Autumn Annals (Ch'un-ch'iu).
Some texts simply repeat the "seen" of the previous line.
"Duckweed" (p'ing) standing for things that are rootless.A set expression in Chinese, descriptive of homeless wanderers, is p'ing-fan nan-pei, "drifting north and south like duckweed."
The "bramble" (p'eng), like duckweed, being a stock symbol of someone on the go, having no steady home.See poem 11.


No. 149

"When others are worthy—those you, my lord, should accept;
The unworthy, you should never associate with."

"If you, sir, are worthy, you'll be abided by others;
And if you're not, they should also reject you!

Have praise for the good, commiserate with those not able;
Disciples of kindness 1. will then find their place."

I urge you to follow the speech of Tzu-chang;
Decline and retreat from the words of Pu-shang.

Jen-t'u, more precisely, "disciples of humanity" (or benevolence). Comment: The poem is similar in style to 139 above: Han-shan repeatedly uses the same words in successive lines—here the words are t'a, "others," chün, "you, my lord," and hsien, "worthy." All of this alludes to a passage in the Analects ( 19: 3, p. 39). D. C. Lau ( Confucius: The Analects, p. 153) translates: "Tzu-hsia's disciples asked Tzu-chang about friendship. Tzu-chang said, 'What does Tzu-hsia say?' Tzu-hsia says, "You should make friends with those who are adequate and spurn those who are inadequate."

"Tzu-chang said, 'That is different from what I have heard.I have heard that the gentleman honours his betters and is tolerant towards the multitude and that he is full of praise for the good while taking pity on the backward. If I am greatly superior, which among men need I be intolerant of? If I am inferior, then others will spurn me, how can there be any question of my spurning them?"'

Lines 1 and 2 reflect the words of Tzu-hsia; lines 3-5 reflect the words of Tzu-chang, and line 5 of Han-shan's poem quotes almost directly the words of Tzu-chang. Pu-shang is another name for Tzu-hsia.


No. 150

The common and contemptuous are truly completely contemptuous; 1.
People's hearts—they are not the same.

Old man Yin laughs at old Liu,
And old Liu laughs at old man Yin.

For what reason do they laugh at each other?
Both move about in the midst of the vile and mean.

Were they to load carts, they would compete in piling them high as a mountain; 2.
The carts would then overturn, and they'd both be defeated and beat! 3.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 214) note that chen-ch'eng was colloquial in the T'ang for "really" or "truly."
Ti-nieh means "high" or "high and dangerous."
Following Iritani and Matsumura's interpretation of these last two lines.Alternatively, they might read, "With a loaded cart—they would dispute on a steep dangerous peak; The cart would overturn—and they'd both be defeated and beat!" "Defeated and beat" (lung-tung) is normally glossed as "soaking wet," but that makes little sense here.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 214) compile an impressive list of phonetically similar compounds from a variety of texts to show that lung-tung here, as in those cases, describes a condition of total defeat—"defeated, destroyed, beaten, and scattered."


No. 151

In those days when I had money,
I always loaned some to you for the taking.

Now you at present are warm and full,
But when you see me, you won't share and hand out.

You must remember your desire for help,
Just like my present hope for support.

"Have and have not" is something that tends to take turns;
I urge you, think it over with care!


No. 152

Man's life is but one hundred years;
Buddha's teachings fall into twelve groups. 1.

Compassion is like a wild deer, 2.
But anger resembles the family dog. 3.

The family dog—though you chase it, it won't go away,
Whereas the wild deer is always ready to flee.

If you want to conquer the heart of the monkey, 4.
You must listen to the lion's roar. 5.

The Māhayāna canon has twelve divisions (shih-erh pu). They are: (1) sūtra, (2) geya, (3) gāthā, (4) nidāna, (5) itivrttaka, (6) jātaka, (7) abhidharma, (8) avadāna (9) upadeśa, (10) udāna, (11) vaipulya, and (12) vyākaraṇa.
Specifically the sika deer (lu). Compassion (tz'u-pei, karuna) is one of the supreme Buddhist virtues.
And anger (here ch'en-fen) is one of the six kieśas (delusions, defilements). The analogies between compassion and deer, and anger and dogs are drawn in the Nirvāṇa-sūtra, Ch. 14 (T.375, Vol 12, p. 396 top). There we read: "The family dog is not afraid of people; the wild deer of mountain forests run away in fear when they see people.Anger is difficult to eliminate; it's like holding on to the family dog: the compassionate heart is easily lost; it's like those wild deer."
Another allusion to the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (Ch. 29, T.374, Vol. 12, p. 536 bottom), where the heart and nature of all living things is compared to that of the monkey.The text says: "The heart and nature of sentient beings is like that of the monkey.The nature of the monkey is that he rejects one thing and holds on to another. The heart and nature of sentient beings is also like this. They hold on to and are attached to the dharmas of form, sound, smell, taste, and touch without any temporary stop."
Shih-tzu hou (siṁhanāda) stands for the powerful preaching of the Buddha, frightening and conquering non-believers, just as the lion's roar frightens and intimidates the other animals of the jungle.


No. 153

Let me teach you several kinds of things;
Think them over—you will then know I'm wise.

In extreme poverty, endure selling your house;
When you are wealthy, you must then buy fields.

When your stomach is empty, don't be running around,
But when you have a pillow you must never sleep.

These words, if we want the masses to see,
We must hang them up on the east side of the sun.

Note: Tseng P'u-hsin ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 88) glosses "house" here as hsin-wang (heart-king) and "buying fields" as ching-chin, the Buddhist virtue of vīrya, "vigor," making the point that even in extreme poverty one should not sell one's house.One should always work hard, never loving sleep, even when one's stomach is empty. But the message seems rather to be that one should be willing to sell one's house when poor, making up for it when one is wealthy, and that one should care for one's health (not run around) when he is poor, but be active again (never sleep) when he is rich (has a pillow to sleep on).


No. 154

Han-shan has many hidden wonders;
Climbers are always struck with awe.

When the moon shines, the waters are clear and bright;
When the wind blows, grasses rustle and sigh.

Withered plums, the snow becomes their blossoms;
Branchless trees have clouds filling in for their leaves.

Touched by rain, it's transformed—all fresh and alive;
If it's not a clear day, you cannot ascend.


No. 155

There is a tree that was born before the forest;
Count its years—exceeding others by twice the age. 1.

Its roots have been twisted by valleys and hills;
Its leaves have been changed by the wind and the frost.

Everyone laughs at the outside, all withered and old;
They care not for the elegance that lies within.

When the bark is done falling away,
The only thing left is "what's really real." 2.

But I wonder—given the text that inspires this poem (see below)— if i-pei ("one time," "double") might not mean i-pai, "one hundred." Pei can mean "one hundred men."
Chen shih-tsai is not a technical Buddhist term, but it seems clear that Han-shan means by it much the same thing as shih-hsing,"true nature," or chen-ju, bhūtatathatā.

Note: The entire poem closely follows a passage in Chapter 39 of the Nirvāna-sūtra (T.374, Vol. 12, p. 597 top), which reads: "It's just like the fact that beyond the village, there is a grove of Śālavana trees.In [those trees] there is one tree that was born before the rest of the forest. It is all of one hundred years. The forest caretaker irrigates it with water, all the time caring for it and protecting it. This tree is old and decayed, its bark and leaves have all fallen off. All that remains is what's really real. The Tathāgata is also like this."


No. 156

On Han-shan there's this naked critter; 1.
His body is white and his head is black.

In his hand he holds two books;
One's on the Way, and one is on Virtue. 2.

At home, he sets up no kettle or stove;
For his walks, he carries no mantle. 3.

Ever grasping the sword of wisdom,
He plans to cut down the thief of delusion. 4.

A lo-ch'ung ("naked critter") is an animal without hair or feath-ers—i.e., man.
i.e., the Lao-tzu, the Tao-te ching.
Specifically, the robe worn by Buddhists—i-chieh.
In the Vimalakīrti-sūtra (Ch. 11, "P'u-sa hsing"; T.475, Vol. 14, p. 554 top and middle) the Buddha addresses a group of bodhisattvas who come from the world-realm "Many fragrances," advising them that "the proper bodhisattva does not destroy the conditioned and does not abide in the unconditioned" (translated by Richard Robinson, " The Sūtra of Vimlalakīrti's Preaching," p. 48, unpublished manuscript). In explaining what this means, one of the things he lists is "with the sword of wisdom to slay the bandit passions."


No. 157

There is a man who fears turning gray,
Who's unwilling to give up his red sash. 1.

Gathering herbs, in vain he seeks to become an immortal;
Roots and shoots—chaotically he digs out and sorts through.

For several years he's done this with no result—
Blind to all else, his frustration building inside.

If you're a hunter dressed in monk's robes, 2.
Fundamentally, this is not something you can use.

i.e., he's unwilling to give up his concern for wealth and rank. Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 223-224) say that gold seals with red sashes (chu-fu, a cord on which the seal was tied from the belt) were bestowed on censors in the T'ang.
A stock image in Buddhism of a monk who breaks the commandments—he merely dresses the part.The locus classicus of the metaphor is the Nirvāṇa-sūtra, Chapter 7 ( "Ju-lai hsing" T. 374, Vol. 12, p. 402 bottom).


No. 158

In former days I was poor, with just enough to get by,
But now I've reached the limit of poverty and cold.

Nothing I do ever works out;
Every path I follow leads to distress and despair.

Walking about in the mud, feet constantly twisted and bent;
Sitting with village friends, stomach always painful and sore.

Since I lost the gray spotted cat,
The old rat hovers 'round the rice jar.


No. 159 *

I've seen the people in this world;
Dignified and imposing, they put on their good, polite airs.

They don't repay parents' kindness;
Their hearts—what kind do they have?

In debt, they owe others money;
With hooves and rings—only then do they start to regret. 1.

Each one of them tenderly loves wife and son.
But mother and father they do not support.

Older and younger brother they treat as though from some enemy clan;
In their hearts, always unhappy and sad.

[Their parents] remember the old days when they were young,
When they prayed to the spirits, wishing for them to be grown.

Now they're unfilial sons;
In the world there are many of this kind.

They buy meat for their own families to gobble down,
Wipe their lips saying, "Ah, now I'm full and content!"

Showing off, in speech they babble and gab,
Claiming in wisdom they have no match. 2.

But when Oxhead angrily gives them his stare, 3.
They'll then start to know that their time is already gone. 4.

They choose a Buddha and burn good incense;
Select a monk and present him with nourishing gifts.

Beg for alms in front of an arhat's gate,
But chase away all practicing monks. 5.

They don't understand that the man in nirvāna,
From the beginning has no distinguishing marks. 6.

They write their letters inviting famous monks,
And then give them money—two or three different kinds! 7.

Yün-kuang was a good Dharma-master,
Yet he wore horns on top of his head. 8.

If you have not the indiscriminate mind, 9.
Sages and worthies—neither one will descend.

All sages make no distinction;
I urge you to stop grasping marks.

My teaching is profound—difficult to comprehend;
Devas and nāgas all turn and face me.

And now prostrate I bow
To the supreme Dharma-king. 10.

Compassionate, he takes great joy in giving;
His name fills the ten directions of space.

All living things on him depend and rely;
The body of wisdom is of diamond.

With my head on the floor, there is nothing to which I'm attached.
My master is the great Dharma-king.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Tseng P'u-hsin ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 93) suggests that this alludes to the story of Lu Po-ta of the T'ang, who, having borrowed one thousand cash, swore an oath in front of the lender that should he fail to repay, he should be reborn as an ox in this benefactor's home. He did not repay the money. In one year he died; in two, his benefactor indeed led an ox around town with the name of Lu Po- ta in white hair on its forehead. For this story, see T'ai- p'ing kuang- chi , 434: 13 (Vol. 5, p. 3523). The "rings" are those placed in the noses of cattle. The text literally says "hooves and bores" ( t'i- ch'uan ).
See Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 332) for i-tang as colloquial for p'i-ti, "match" or "equal."
Oxhead ( niu-t'ou, Gośīrsa) and Horseface ( ma-mien, Aśvamukha) are the two attendants in hell who greet newly dead souls.The role of Oxhead goes to someone who ate meat in life.See Henri Maspero, Taoism and Chinese Religion ( Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981). p. 183 ff.
Following the variant reading of shih-chüeh shih i-hsiang. The alternate reading of ch'u-ch'ü shih shih-hsiang makes much less sense.
Assuming that hsien ho-shang means much the same as hsien tao‐ shih, "a well-trained practitioner."
Hsiang-chuang, hsiang (lakṣaṇa) being distinguishing features in phenomena. Mahāyāna philosophy insists that such features are not real, not permanent features of reality.
i.e., they distinguish between them in terms of benefits received. "Write them letters" is feng-shu, which means, literally, a sealed memorial or a sealed request presented to a superior.
Yün-kuang was a Liang dynasty monk (reign of Wu-ti, 502-549) who did not maintain the śīla. He once bragged to Pao Chih (d. 514—see poem 172): "I fast by not fasting and don't eat by eating." When he died he became an ox. Pao Chih, seeing him dragging a cart through mud, said to him, "Why don't you say you do not drag by dragging!" Hakuin ( Kanzan shi sendai kibun, Ch. 2, pp. 71-72) cites Lin-ch'üan's Hsü-t'ang chi(case 86) as the source of this anecdote.This seems not to be identical with the Hsü ‐ t'ang ho-shang yü-lu (brief title Hsü-t'ang lu, T.2000, Vol. 47, pp. 984-1064, compiled by Miao-yüan in 1269), though the latter remains an important source of kōans (100 are found in chüan6; the present ancedote is not among them). Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 332), seem to know a variant account of the story, but they do not cite their source.
P'ing-teng hsin, p'ing-teng (sama) being the quality of impartiality, seeing all things the same.
On the expression fa-chung wang, see poem 90, note 4.
Note: The last ten lines are omitted in the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō editions.The SPTK text ( Han-shan-tzu shih-chi, p. 13) has a black parenthetical mark before the last eight lines of the text, seemingly indicating a break, although the following lines are not set off as a separate poem. The last eight lines are treated as a separate poem (found between poems 296 and 298) in Hakuin's edition of the text; see Kanzan shi sendai kibun, Chapter 4 of Hakuin oshō zenshū ( Tokyo: Ryūgin sha, 1934), 3: 45.


No. 160 *

Valuable indeed! The natural stuff; 1.
It stands all alone, without companion or mate.

You can search for it, but it cannot be seen; 2.
It goes in and out without gateway or door.

Compress it—it will fit inside your heart; 3.
Extend it—it will fill all of space.

But if this is something you neither believe nor accept,
You might run into it and yet never meet.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
T'ien-jan wu. Tseng P'u-hsin ( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 94) is probably right in specifying that what is intended is one's given nature (hsing).
The language is reminiscent of Lao-tzu, Chapter 14. Wing-tsit Chan ( The Way of Lao Tzu, p. 124), translates the opening lines: "We look at it and do not see it.... We listen to it and do not hear it.... We touch it and do not find it." The it, of course, is the Tao.
Han-shan, here and elsewhere, uses the alternate, anatomical name for heart, fang-ts'un ("square inch").


No. 161 *

In my house there is one cave;
In the cave there is not one thing.

Spotless and pure—empty just like a court; 1.
Dazzling and bright—it shines just like the sun.

Coarse foods nourish this ethereal person;
Cotton-fur robes cover this illusory substance.

I'll let you have your one thousand sages appear,
For I have the true Buddha inside. 2.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
T'ang-t'ang normally means "dignified and imposing." But I translate "like a court" (t'ang by itself means a courtyard) to parallel the next line, where jih-jih seems to mean "like the sun."
The t'ien-chen fo, bhūtatathatā, is another name for dharmakāya, the law body of the Buddha, the ultimate reality underlying all things.

Note: Surely the opening two lines are intended metaphorically—his "house" is his body, and the "cave" is his mind.


No. 162 *

Gentlemen, Gentlemen—all you great men; 1.
In doing things never be rash.

With vigor maintain your iron and stone heart;
Uprightly hold on to the wisdom road. 2.

The road of perversion is useless to walk; 3.
If you walk it—in vain you will bitterly toil.

There's no need to seek the Buddhahood fruit; 4.
Just know and hold on to the Dharma Master and King.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Mencius, in 3B:2 (p. 22), defines the "great man" (ta chang-fu), but such special meaning seems unnecessary here.
Literally, the "bodhi" (p'u-t'i) road.
The hsieh-lu; hsieh-tao (mithya-mārga) is the incorrect way, the het-erodox way, incorrect views.
Fo-kuo (Buddhapāla)—i.e., the state of Buddhahood.


No. 163 *

Since I have lived on Han-shan,
I've already passed through several ten-thousands of years.

Complying with fate, I escaped to the forests and springs,
And here I tarry and stay, contemplating that which exists on its own. 1.

Cold cliffs—people do not come;
White clouds—always dense and obscure.

Downy grass I use for my mattress;
The blue sky is my cover and quilt.

Happy and alive, I pillow my head on a rock;
Heaven and Earth, I let transform and change.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Tzu-tsai (vaśitā) describes the mind free from obstruction and delusion.


No. 164 †

Of great value! It is, this Han-shan;
White clouds always at their ease.

The screeching of monkeys resounds through her paths;
The roaring of tigers is outside the realm of men.

Alone I traverse the walkable rocks;
Solitarily chant, on the vines that are easy to climb.

Wind through the pines, so pure—sigh, sigh;
The chatter of birds, the sound—in harmony tweet, tweet.


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


No. 165

At my leisure, in person I go to look for an eminent monk;
Mountains in mist—ten thousand, ten thousand tiers.

The Master himself points out the way to return;
The moon hangs in the sky—a single circular lamp.

Note: The poem is symbolic of the Zen quest for enlightenment.One might paraphrase as follows: Line 1, one must search on one's own for the truth, and one must have the leisure to do it; Line 2, the initiate is lost in the fog, and the ascent to the truth seems unending; Line 3, in Zen it is the Master who points (chih) out the way, by directly pointing to one's true mind and original nature; Line 4, my mind is enlightened, pure, bright, and complete, just like the full moon.

In Zen, the transmission of the truth is sometimes called "the transmission of the lamp" (ch'uan-teng). Moreover, the word I translate as "circular" is lun, which means "wheel," and the preaching of the Buddha is known as "turning the wheel of the Law."

Also of interest—there is a well-defined group of poems in the T'ang on the subject of "looking for" (hsün or fang) this or that monk or recluse, the theme we have here.In many of these poems the poet does not succeed in finding the monk or recluse that he seeks (pu-yü, "looking for so-and-so but not finding him in").


No. 166

At my leisure I stroll to the top of Hua-ting; 1.
The sun is bright, the daylight dazzling and gay.

Into the four directions I gaze—into the clear sky and void;
White clouds flying together with cranes.

Hua-ting, " Flower Peak," is the highest mountain in the T'ien-t'ai range.

Note: A symbolic poem much like the last. Again, bright light at the top seems to stand for the enlightened mind. So too does the "clear sky and void" (ch'ing-k'ung), "void" being the same word that translates śūnyatā, "emptiness," the Mahāyāna qualifier of all phenomenal things— they are "empty" of own-being, any permanent stuff.The enlightened mind joins the clouds and the cranes who soar free of the world in the purity, transcendence, and light of the sky.


No. 167 *

In this world there are people of many affairs,
Widely learned in all sorts of knowledge and views. 1.

But they don't know their original true natures;
Thus they are turned from and far from the Way.

If they could understand the true mark, 2.
For what use this display of false hopes?

With one thought understand your own mind,
And you open the Buddha's knowledge and views. 3.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
"Knowledge and views" (chih-chien) means knowledge of mind and knowledge from perception.
The shih-hsiang, "true lakṣaṇa," the one mark of reality underlying all phenomenal appearance—i.e., b́hūtatathatā.
i.e., as soon as you understand your true mind, you then have the knowledge of the Buddha, which is far superior to the learning of men. Underlying this is the T'ien-t'ai and Zen tenet that one's original mind is the one mind underlying and containing all things and thus all-knowing.


No. 168 *

On Han-shan there's only one house; 1.
In this house there are neither railings nor screens. 2.

Six doors lead both left and right; 3.
In the courtyard one can see the blue sky. 4.

Room after room is empty, deserted and bare,
From the wall on the east to the wall on the west.

Inside there is not one thing;
In this way I avoid having others come borrow them away.

When the cold arrives, I burn soft wood for heat;
When hunger comes, I cook up some vegetables to eat.

I don't imitate the old farmers,
Who place cattle in their village homes. 5.

All this makes karma that leads one to hell;
Once you've entered—when will it ever end?

Carefully, carefully—think it over real well;
If you think, you'll then know the rule.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
The "one house" (i-chai) is the "one mind."
i.e., the original mind knows no distinctions; there are no fixed boundaries between things.
The "six doorways" (liu-men) are the six sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind.See, for example, The Platform Sutra, section 31 (p. 153 in Philip Yampolsky, translator, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch [ New York: Columbia University Press, 1967] and his note 151).
Again, the open, blue sky is symbolic of the enlightened mind.
There is a variant of field (t'ien) for cattle (niu).


No. 169 *

Once for a short while I went down the mountain,
Went inside the walls and the moat. 1.

I ran into a flock of young ladies,
Upright and proper, beautiful in countenance and face.

On their heads they wore Southern-style flowers, 2.
Yen-rouge daubed on cheeks, powder glossy and smooth. 3.

Bracelets of gold, engraved silver earrings,
Robes of thin silk, purple and scarlet red.

Peachy complexions, just like immortals and gods;
Fragrant sashes, heavy aroma of good fortune and wealth. 4.

Men of the times all ogled and leered,
Blindly in love—unclean, the thoughts on their minds.

They said, "The world has no equal";
With soul and shadow they followed behind.

When dogs bite into dry bones,
In vain do they lick teeth and gums! 5.

If you don't understand that you must repeatedly think things through,
In what way do you differ from beasts?

And now they've turned into white-haired old hags,
Old and ugly, just like witches and spooks!

If from beginningless time you follow your dog's heart,
You'll never ascend to the realm of release.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
i.e., he went into the city.
Shu-yang hua: Shu, modern Ssu-ch'uan, was known for a special embroidery style.
A special rouge made from the juice of the safflower, produced in the northeastern kingdom of Yen.
Though Iritani and Matsumara Kanzanshi, p. 235) seem to understand tai as a verb—"Their perfume carries with it the air of the prosperous and rich."
i.e., the beauty of these women is equally lacking in substance, in meat.


No. 170 *

Ever since I escaped to Han-shan,
I've nourished my life by eating mountain fruits.

All my life through—for what should I be concerned?
The world passes according to fate. 1.

Days and months go by like a swift-flowing stream; 2.
Bright light and shade—like a spark in a rock.

I'll let you change with Heaven and Earth;
My delight is sitting here in these cliffs.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Literally, "in accord with causes," sui-yüan.
Another allusion to the words of Confucius—see poem 49, note 3.


No. 171

I've seen the people in this world;
Far and wide, they race about in the dust on the roads.

If they don't understand the affairs in this realm,
How will they know to go on to the ford? 1.

Glory and honor you can keep a few days;
Family members, for a brief moment are kin.

Though you might have one thousand catties of gold,
It's not as good as poverty here in the woods. 2.

i.e., how will they know to go on to the more important concern with salvation, the "ford" being the place where one can cross over to the other shore of nirvāṇa. There is an allusion here to Analects 18: 6 (p. 38), where Confucius sends his disciple Tzu-lu to ask two recluses where he might find the ford.
"In the woods," lin-hsia—really "at the bottom of the woods"—is an expression that means to retire.


No. 172 *

I have myself heard of the days of the Liang; 1.
For their "four supports" they had many worthy men. 2.

Pao-chih3. and Master Wan-hui, 4.
The Four Immortals 5. and Mahāsattva Fu. 6.

They displayed and made known the "teachings of an age," 7.
Being Tathāgata emissaries 8. for their time.

They built and established monasteries and parks; 9.
Sincere minds clinging to Buddhist truths.

But although their accomplishments were like this,
When there is action, there are many troubles and cares. 10.

From the Way—this is extremely distant and far;
It's simply breaking it off from the west and sticking it on to the east.

This can't reach to the merit of taking "no action";
It's simply reducing the many to increase the few. 11.

That which has sound but no form;
To the present—where has it gone? 12.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Emperor Wu of the Liang (r. 502-549) was one of the great early supporters of Buddhism in China.For a summary of his actions, see, for example, Kenneth Ch'en, Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey, ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), 124-128.
Yu-wei, as opposed to wu-wei, "acting without action."
This seems to be an allusion to Chapter 77 of the Lao-tzu, but in the Lao-tzu this is seen as something good. Wing-tsit Chan( The Way of Lao Tzu, p. 234) translates the line in question: "The Way of Heaven reduces whatever is excessive and supplements whatever is insufficient."
The point being—I think—that these men were all praised, but they have no lasting accomplishment. Where are their deeds today?
Lists of the "four supports" (ssu-i) vary.The standard gloss notes that there are four kinds of support—those of "practice," of "doctrine" or (dharma), of "men," and of "speech"—the four supports of practice, for example being those of "rag clothes, begging for food, sitting under trees, [and] purgatives and diuretics as moral and spiritual means" ( William Soothill and Lewis Hodous, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms [ Taipei: Southern Materials Center, 1979], p. 170). Ch'en Hui-chien( Han-shan-tzu. p. 257), citing the "Ta-chih-tu lun" as his source, says the "four supports" (or four reliances) mean: (1) to rely on the dharma and not to model oneself on men; (2) to rely on understanding the meaning of the sūtras; (3) to rely on the meaning and not on the words; and (4) to rely on wisdom and not on mere intellection.Chapter 6 of the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (T. 374, Vol. 12, pp. 396 bottom-397 top), on the other hand, seems to say that the "four supports" are four types of people on whom people in the world must rely, those who "give peace and joy to both men and gods." That seems most relevant here.Specifically, the four are: (1) those who have left behind all things in the world of kleśa nature (? ch'u-shih chü fan-nao hsing); (2) the srotāpanna ("stream-winners") and sakrdāgam̅in (once-returners); (3) the anāgamin ("non-returners"); and (4) the arhant (nobles—those who have attained nirvāṇa).
Pao-chih (d. 514) was a Buddhist monk arrested in the Ch'i by Emperor Wu (r. 483-494) for deceiving the masses with his strange actions and remarks.He was well received under Wu in the Liang and has come to hold a place in Zen tradition because of a number of cryptic remarks he made in response to questions from Emperor Wu.His biography is recorded in Kao-seng chuan ch'u-chi, Chapter 11 (pp. 280-285 in the Taipei, Yin-ching-ch'u 1970 edition). But also note Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu, Chapter 27, pp. 150-151, and the Pi-yen lu, cases 1 and 67 (T. 2003, Vol. 48, pp. 140-141 and 197; translated into English in J. C. Cleary, The Blue Cliff Record [ Boulder, Co: Shambhala, 1977], Vol. 1 pp. 1-9, and Vol. 2 pp. 424-428).
Master Wan-hui ("Master Ten Thousand Return") is presumably the Fa-yün kung (lay surname was Chang), whose biography we find in Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu, Chapter 27, p. 158. Master Wan-hui was so named after he travelled a great distance overnight and then returned (i.e., ten thousand li) to check on the welfare of an older brother. (See Ch'en Hui‐ chien , Han-shan-tzu. p. 239; the Ch'uan-teng lu account is slightly different.) He was favored by Empress Wu (r. 684-705) and well received by other royalty at the capital.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi. p. 240) point out that there is a problem with this identification. Fa-yün's dates are 632-711; thus he was not a monk in the Liang.There was, however, another Fa-yün who lived in Kuang-chai ssu in Liang times (his dates are 467-529). Thus, they argue that originally Han-shan's poem said "Fa-yün"— meaning the Fa-yün of the Liang— and that a later editor, knowing that "Wan-hui" was the more popular name for the T'ang Fa-yün, changed the name to Wan-hui.
Iritani and Matsumaura ( Kanzanshi, p. 240) and Tseng P'u-hsin Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 98) agree in identifying the "Four Immortals" (ssuhsien) as four Taoists of the Liang: the Perfected of Hua-t'ao, T'ao Hung‐ ching; P'ei the Perfected of Purity and the Void; Chou the Perfected of Purple Yang; and the Perfected of T'ung-po, Wang Tzu-ch'iao (for documentation, see the Fo-tsu t'ung-chi, Chapter 37, pp. 350-351; T. 2035, Vol. 49). This is clearly problematic.If the "four immortals" refers to four men, then there are "seven supports" in the Liang, not four.Iritani and Matsumura also note this problem and suggest that the group as a whole is intended or that the "four" means only one of the group.In any event, T'ao Hung-ching (456-536) seems to be the only real person in the group.
Mahāsattva Fu (Fu ta-shih) was Fu Hsi (497-569), another monk greatly favored by Emperor Wu of the Liang.He called himself "The Great Scholar with the Good Wisdom of Future Release" but was dubbed Mahāsattva Fu for short.He figures in cases 1 and 67 of the Pi yen lu; the title of case 67 is "Mahasattva Fu Expounds the Scripture" ( Cleary, The Blue Cliff Record, Vol. 2, pp. 424-428).
The i-tai chiao—i.e., everything the Buddha taught from his nirvāna until his death.
Ju-lai shih; Tathāgata-dūta.
Seng-chia-lan transliterates sańghārāma, the monastery with its parks and gardens attached.


No. 173

Alas! Poor, and on top of that ill;
I'm a man cut off from both friends and kin.

Inside my jug—always empty of rice;
My pots—constantly covered with dust. 1.

My thatch cottage doesn't keep out the rain;
My wet bed—too small to hold my [large] frame.

No need to wonder why I'm at present so haggard and worn;
Many worries clearly waste a person away.

Tseng-chung sheng-ch'en (literally, "inside my jug, dust is produced") is a set expression, descriptive of utter poverty—i.e., there is no food to cook, so the pots go unused.


No. 174

As for raising girls—I'm afraid there just are too many, 1.
And once they are born, they must be instructed and led.

Pat their heads—chase away their small fears;
Whip their behinds—teach them to keep their mouths shut!

If they don't understand how to operate shuttle and loom,
How can they serve you with dustpan and broom?

Old lady Chang said to the young donkey's foal,
"When you grow up, you won't be as good as your mother!"2.

In Yen-shih chia-hsün (1. 13b), the words of T'ai-kung are quoted: "The girls who are raised are too many; it's a complete waste."
i.e., if you don't learn how to behave when you are young.


No. 175

I maintain my resolve—it can't be rolled up;
You must know that I'm not some mat! 1.

Unrestrained I arrived at this mountain wood;
All alone I recline on a large and firm rock.

Skilled talkers come to urge me to leave,
Invite me to accept gold and circlets of jade. 2.

Boring holes in walls to plant daisies; 3.
Just like this—it's something that does little good.

Apparently alluding to the lines in stanza 3 of poem 26 in the Shih. Karlgren( The Book of Odes, p. 15) translates: "My heart is not a stone, you cannot turn it; my heart is not a mat, you cannot roll it; my dignified demeanour has been perfect, you cannot measure it."
Probably another allusion to the anecdote noted above, in note 1 to poem 102, where King Hsiang of Ch'u sent messengers with gold and jade to get Chuang-tzu to serve as prime minister.
An allusion to Chuang-tzu, Chapter 23 (p. 61, line 13). Watson( The Complete Works, pp. 249-250) translates the phrase: "And as for those two you mentioned—Yao and Shun—how are they worthy to be singled out for praise? With their nice distinctions they are like a man who goes around willfully poking holes in people's walls and fences and planting weeds and brambles in them, like a man who picks out which hairs of his head he intends to comb.... Such bustle and officiousness—how can it be of any use in saving the age?" I.e., this is something useless, of no value—the skilled talkers are wasting their time.


No. 176

The place where I tarry and stay;
Secluded and deep—difficult indeed to describe.

Without any wind, creepers move on their own;
There is no fog, yet the bamboo's always dark, in a haze.

Valley streams—for whom do they weep?
Mountain clouds—suddenly on their own they pile up.

At noon, I sit inside my hut;
Just then I'm aware that the sun has started to rise.


No. 177

I remember before, all the places I went to see. 1.
Among men, I chased after the very best sights and scenes.

Delighting in mountains, I climbed peaks eighty thousand feet high;
Loving the waters, I floated on one thousand streams.

I saw off guests at P'i-p'a Valley, 2.
Carried my lute to Parrot Isle. 3.

How could I know I'd end up at the base of some pine,
Arms wrapped 'round my knees, as the cold wind sighs and moans?

Preferring the variant kuo ("pass by, experience") to yū ("en-counter"), though either word will do.
P'i-p'a Valley(p'i-p'a ku) once formed the boundary between Liang-chou and I-chou (prefectures located in present-day northern Szechwan and southern Shensi); through it runs the Han River, which then empties into the Yangtze in the vicinity of Wu-han. (See Shui-ching chu 29 [p. 933] and Iritani and Matsumura [ Kanzanshi, p. 248].)
There is a "Parrot Isle" (ying-wu chou) in the Yangtze River southwest of Han-yang District in modern Hupeh.


No. 178 *

I declare to you followers of the Way;
To go forth and search 1.—in vain do you labor your souls.

People [inside] have something vital and alive;
There's no word to describe it; moreover, there's neither sentence nor phrase. 2.

When you call it, it very distinctly responds;
Yet it dwells hidden; it doesn't stay or remain. 3.

I tell you again and again, carefully protect and preserve;
Don't let it have blemish or stain.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
For the Buddha—looking outside.
The syntax suggests that it is the "vital and alive thing" (ching-ling wu) that "has no word and has neither sentence nor phrase." But surely the meaning is that no words can adequately describe or name this thing.
Meaning that even though it responds when you call, it is not forever in front of your face.


No. 179

Last year in spring I heard the birds sing;
At that time I thought of my brothers.

This year in the fall as chrysanthemums fade;
At this time I think of things sending forth shoots. 1.

Green waters choked up in one thousand domains; 2.
Yellow clouds, level on all four sides. 3.

Sad it is! In this life of one hundred years,
It tears my insides to remember the capital Hsien. 4.

Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 250) point out the poignancy of the contrast in these two lines: in fall he is thinking of spring (fa-sheng, "sending forth shoots," is what happens in spring).
Choked up with tears.
Ch'en Hui-chien( Han-shan-tzu, p. 180) cites a number of T'ang verses to show that "yellow clouds" are associated with warfare in the border regions.
Hsien-ching would normally mean Hsien-yang (in northwest Shensi), the capital of China during the Ch'in ( B.C. 221-209). But it also stands for Ch'ang-an, the capital during the T'ang.As a result, Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 250-251) argue convincingly that the poet is thinking back to the "springtime" of the T'ang dynasty, before the fall of Ch'ang-an during the An Lu-shan rebellion ( 755-763).


No. 180 *

The many who live on T'ien-t'ai
Do not recognize Master Han-shan.

None of them knows my true thoughts;
They simply call it "idle talk."

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.


No. 181 **

Once you live on Han-shan, all matters come to an end;
Moreover, there are no confusing thoughts to hang up your mind.

At my leisure, on stone walls I write down poetic lines;
Letting fate go its way, together with it I turn—I do not tether my boat. 1.

Seven-character lines.
The unattached boat can "go with the flow," floating freely with life's ups and downs.For more on the "unmoored boat" image in Chinese poetry, see Eugene Eoyang's " The Solitary Boat: Images of Self in Chinese Nature Poetry," Journal of Asian Studies XXXII, No. 4 ( August 1973): 593-621.


No. 182 *

Pitiable! This house of one hundred years;
The left side toppled down—the right side also atilt.

Walls split open, scattered and gone;
Boards in chaos, heaped about in great disarray.

Roof tiles in bits and pieces fall off;
Rot and decay that cannot be stopped.

Were a violent wind to blow, it would abruptly collapse;
To stand it up firmly again, would in the end be difficult to complete.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.

Note: Han-shan may be developing a metaphor first noted in the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (Chapter 23, T. 374, Vol. 12, p. 499 top). There we read: "It can be compared to a rotten house, a building about to collapse: our lives are also like this."


No. 183

Spirit and soul, extraordinary—far above the rest;
Form and appearance, extremely imposing and grave.

Able to shoot an arrow through seven planks; 1.
In reading books, comprehending five lines at a glance.

Accustomed to sleeping on tiger's head pillows; 2.
At night, sitting on ivory beds. 3.

But if you have none of "this thing," 4.
You'll simply be treated as cold as the frost.

Literally, the seven cha, cha being thin strips of wood used for writing. Yang Yu-chi, the great archer of Ch'u in Spring and Autumn times, is said to have accomplished this feat.See the Tso-chuan, Duke Ch'eng, year 16 (Vol. 1, p. 242).
An inventory of the imperial treasury in 265 revealed that it contained a jade tiger's head pillow used by King Chou Hsin of the Yin (r. B.C. 1154-1122). See the Shih-i chi, 7: 5ab.
For the story of the priceless ivory couch that was offered to Mengch'ang chün by the king of Ch'u, see Chan-kuo ts'e, " Ch'i ts'e," part 3 ( 10: 6ab). For Crump's translation of the anecdote, see Chan-kuo Ts'e, pp. 187‐ 189.
A-tu wu was colloquial in the T'ang for "money." Wang Yen of the Chin, in response to the greed of his wife, refused to say the word "money" (ch'ien), always calling it "this thing." See his biography in Chin shu 43 (Vol. 4, p. 1237); also Shih-shuo hsin-yü 10: 9 (p. 423). Mather( A New Account of Tales of the World, p. 281) translates: "Wang Yen had always esteemed the Mysterious and Remote (hsüan-yüan), and being continually vexed by the avarice of his wife, Lady Kuo, and by her worldly contamination, he never let the word "cash" (ch'ien) pass his lips.Desiring to test him, his wife had a female slave surround his bed with cash, so that he could not walk past it. When Yen awoke in the morning and saw the cash obstructing the way, he called in the slave and said, "Get these objects (ache wu) out of here!"


No. 184

They laugh at me like some farm boy;
Head and cheeks drooping down like a timid,
stuttering bumpkin. 1.

My turban has never been high, 2.
And the belt at my waist is always tight. 3.

It's not that I've not "seized the moment";
When you are poor, you might "seize," but you will not succeed.

But if one day I have money and wealth,
I'll stand a stūpa on top of my head! 4.

Translation is tentative. No one seems to know what to make of chih-se as a compound (see Iritani and Matsumura, Kanzanshi, p. 256, and Ch'en Hui-chien, Han-shan-tzu, p. 257). I follow Ch'en in reading chih in the sense of chü-chin, "restrained and courteous" or "timid," and se means to "talk haltingly" or "lacking in polish."
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 256) make the interesting observation that a "high head turban" (kao-t'ou chin-tzu) was presented to honored officials (kuei-ch'en) during the T'ang, from the reign era Wu-te (618-629) to the reign of Wu Tse-t'ien (690-704).
i.e., he's always hungry.
Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 105) finds this attitude unbecoming of Han-shan and considers the poem, therefore, to be a later addition.


No. 185

When you buy meat, blood oozes and drips;
When you buy fish, they jump around—flippity flop.

You invite for yourself the burden of sin,
So that wife and child can be happy.

You'll no sooner die than she'll remarry;
Of others—this deed who would dare to prevent?

One morning, like a broken bed, 1.
The two before your own eyes will be taken away.

That quickly, with that much of a shock.


No. 186 *

A guest criticized Master Han-shan;
"Sir, your poems make no sense at all!"

[To which I replied] "When I look back at the ancients,
Poverty and low station were no cause for shame."

In responding, he laughed at these words;
"Your remarks—how vague, distant, and imprecise!

I want you, sir, to be up to date;
Money's the only urgent matter."

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.

Note: I have translated the poem assuming that lines 3-4 are by Han‐ shan and 5-8 by his critic.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 259-260) read lines 2-4 as against Han-shan and 5-8 as his reply, though they note this is problematic. Watson( Cold Mountain, p. 91) reads lines 7-8 as again from the mouth of Han-shan, expressed with resignation—i.e., "Go ahead, you may as well be like everyone else."


No. 187

From birth, I have not come and gone; 1.
Until death, I'll have no Benevolence and Right. 2.

Since when you speak there are already branches and leaves. 3.
What you cherish in your heart will be evil and mean.

If you open up the small roads, 4.
Great hypocrisy by this is produced. 5.

[Others] may craftily urge you to make a cloud ladder, 6.
[But my advice is] pare it away, 'til it turns into briars and thorns. 7.

Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 107) points out the probable allusion here to Lao-tzu, Chapter 80. There, in the ideal society, people will "value their lives highly and not migrate far.Even if there are ships and carriages, none will ride in them.... [They will] relish their food, beautify their clothing, be content with their homes, and delight in their customs. Though neighboring communities overlook one another and the crowing of cocks and barking of dogs can be heard, yet the people there may grow old and die without ever visiting one another" (translation by Wing-tsit Chan, The Way of Lao Tzu, p. 238). "Without ever visiting one another" is literally, "not come and go with one another."
A way of saying he will remain one with the Tao.One is again reminded of the Lao-tzu. The first line of Chapter 18 goes: "When the great Tao declined, the doctrine of humanity and righteousness arose" (translated by Wing-tsit Chan, The Way of Lao Tzu, p. 131). "Humanity and righteousness" are the same jen and i that I translate as "Benevolence and Right."
i.e., you break away from what is essential—the root.
The "small roads" (hsiao-tao) are normally understood to mean minor arts—things like husbandry, medicine, divining, and so forth—things not properly done by a gentleman.In Analects 19: 4 (p. 39) Tzu-hsia is quoted as saying (translation by D. C. Lau, Confucius: the Analects, p. 153): "Even minor arts are sure to have their worthwhile aspects, but the gentleman does not take them up because the fear of a man who would go a long way is that he should be bogged down."
Again, an allusion to Lao-tzu. Chapter 18 begins: "When the great Tao declined, The doctrine of humanity and righteousness arose.When knowledge and wisdom appeared, There emerged great hypocrisy." Note that "small roads" (hsiao-tao) are the opposite of the "great Tao" (ta-tao).
A "cloud ladder" (yün-t'i) was a scaling device used for attacking city walls.For an illustration, see E. T. C. Werner, Chinese Weapons ( Los Angeles: O'Hara Publications, Inc., 1972), pp. 78-80. Well known is the crafty speech of Kung-shu Pan, who urged the king of Ch'u to attack the state of Sung using cloud ladders (see Chan-kuo ts'e32: lab; Crump, Chan-kuo ts'e, pp. 562-563). This line might also be read: "Crafty speech creates a cloud ladder" (i.e., it makes something that leads nowhere).
I think the contrast of cloud ladders and thorns is one of culture and nature. Culture, as the Lao-tzu lines suggest, leads to craftiness, deceit, and war.Better to remain one's natural self. To paraphrase: "Others might urge you to develop into a crafty, devious person, one who takes advantage of and causes harm to others.But I say return to your natural stuff, even though it might be insignificant and small." This represents yet another Lao-tzu theme—in Chapter 48 we read: "The pursuit of learning is to increase day after day.The pursuit of Tao is to decrease day after day" (translation by Wing-tsit Chan, The Way of Lao Tzu, p. 184).


No. 188

One vase, by the casting of metal completed;
Another produced by the molding of day.

Both vases I let you, sir, see;
Which vase is solid and real?

If you want to know why there are two different vases,
You must know that the trade's not the same.

If you use this to examine the causes of life,
You'll start to practice on this very day.

Note: An allegory on the workings of karma. The word "trade" in line 6 is yeh, which also means karma in Buddhist parlance.The word yeh, with its double meaning, therefore marks the transition between allegory and moral. Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 263) point out that in the Nirvāṇa-sūtra (Ch. 5, "Ju-lai hsing"; T. 374, Vol. 12, p. 392 bottom) a comparison is made between an earthenware vase and one made of diamond. The text reads: "True liberation (mukti) is none other than tathāgata. It's just like the fact that when an earthenware vase breaks, it sounds like broken pottery.But with a diamond vase it is not like this. Liberation also does not have the sound of breaking. The diamond vase is a symbol for liberation. True liberation is none other than tathāgata."


No. 189 *

Dilapidated, in ruins, this cottage of weeds;
Inside, mushrooming fire and smoke.

May I ask you, you many small children,
You've been alive a total of how many days?

Outside the gate there are three carts;
He invites them to take them, but they're unwilling to leave.

Full of food, stomachs distended and fat;
All of them stupid, obstinate fools!

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.

Comment: In Chapter 3 of the Lotus-sūtra (T. 262, Vol. 9, pp. 10-19)— "Pi-yü p'in" (Parable)—the Buddha mentions the parable of the burning house to illustrate the ultimate truth of the One Vehicle (Ekayāna— Buddha Vehicle or Great Vehicle) teaching.There a rich father tries to save his children from their burning house (i.e., from life in this world, where we are consumed by the passions), tricking them into leaving the house with the promise of goat carts, deer carts, and bullock carts waiting for them outside the door.When they come out, there is only one carriage there, a large, richly adorned carriage which they all mount. Just so in Buddhism, though it may appear that the vehicles are three—the ways of the śrāvakas, the pratyeka-buddhas, and the bodhisattvas—in reality there is only the One Vehicle, that of the Buddha.

For a translation of the passage 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. 49-83, especially pp. 58-62.


No. 190

There is a body—there is not a body;
This is me—then again it is not.

In this way, carefully I think it through;
Putting off my decision, I sit leaning against this cliff.

Midst my feet green grass starts to grow;
On my head the red dust descends.

Having seen me, some common folk
Present fruit and wine at my funeral bier. 1.

i.e., he sits without moving that long. Hakuin ( Kanzan shi sendai kibun, pp. 106-107), on the last two couplets, cites the text Kuan-Fo san-mei hai ching, which says: "At that time the bodhisattva sat down beneath a tree and entered 'extinction of thought' (samādhi). The realm of this samādhi is called 'tranquility of the senses.' The various deities wept, their tears falling like rain, as they urged and requested the bodhisattva to get up and eat and drink.But at the time they made this request, the bodhisattva was unaware of sound anywhere in the three thousand worlds. There was one Son of Heaven named 'Pleasing Thought,' who saw that the grass growing on the ground had penetrated the bodhisattva's flesh, growing up to his elbows.Thus he said to the various gods: 'Rare indeed! Good sons.To practice austerities like this. To not eat for so much time; to not hear when others call to you; for grass to grow [around you] and be unaware.'"


No. 191

Yesterday I saw the trees by the side of stream;
Smashed up, destroyed—they can't be described.

Two or three remnants of trunks were still there; 1.
A thousand, ten thousand axe and knife scars. 2.

Stripping of frost had withered and faded the leaves;
Pounding of waves had rotted and decayed the roots.

The lot of things born must be like this;
What use in blaming Heaven and Earth?

For "trunks still there" (kan-tsai), there is a variant reading of "buds and plants" (jui-hui).
Or "hatchet blade" scars—fu-tao.

Note: Han-shan seems to be aware of Mr. Kuei-ku's letter reprimanding his students Su Ch'in and Chang I (cited in Yüan Shu's Chen-yin chuan [I-wen lei-chü 36, p. 640]). That text reads: "People like my two lords—can it be you've not seen the trees by the side of the stream?! Drivers and charioteers break off their limbs; breakers and waves wash against their roots. Above they have not one circular foot of shade; their trunks covered with several thousand scars. These trees—how could they bear a grudge against heaven and earth? [Their situation] is the result of where they live."


No. 192 ***1.

I've seen Seng-yu, by nature rare and unique; 2.
Skillful and clever, "born in-between," at the time of the Liang. 3.

[The paintings of] Tao-tzu, airy and graceful—that was his special mark; 4.
The two Masters so good at drawing, when with their hands they wielded the brush. 5.

At ease when they painted, their paintings so real, with spirit and feeling distinct;
Their dragons flew, their goblins ran, their gods were majestic and stern.

Even though, of the distant and void, they could depict the traces and tracks,
They lacked the means to successfully paint Master Chih-kung. 6.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Seven-character lines.
The two inner couplets are omitted in the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō editions.
Chang Seng-yu (c. 470-550) was one of China's great painters.He was hired a number of times by Liang Wu-ti (r. 502-550) to do paintings for temples.His paintings are reported to have been so real that when he painted in the eyes of a dragon on one of them, the dragon broke free and flew away. William Acker( Some T'ang and Pre-T'ang Texts on Chinese Painting [ Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1954], pp. 49-50) translates the Hsü Hua-p'in entry on him.See also Max Loehr, The Great Painters of China ( Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1980), pp. 26-29.
My translation of chien-sheng as "born in-between" is tentative and follows the interpretation of Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 266) that every one hundred or one thousand years a Buddha or sage is born.But I wonder if it might not mean "scholars at their leisure" (like hsien-chü).
Wu Tao-tzu (c. 698-792) being another great Chinese painter who lived in the T'ang.He painted in the tradition of Chang Seng-yu, and the Hsüan-ho hua-p'u (cited in Ch'en Hui-chien[ Han-shan-tzu, p. 262]) says that when he painted dragons, their scales shook.
Chang Seng-yu and Wu Tao-tzu are often cited together with Ku K'ai-chih ( 344-405) and Lu T'an-wei (c. 440-500) as China's four great masters of painting.Thus Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 266-267) feel that the "two masters" (erh-kung) refer to Ku and Lu.I see no reason not to see these as referring once more to Seng-yu and Wu Tao-tzu.
For Master Chih-kung, see poem 172, note 3: he is the same as Pao-chih.On Seng-yu's inability to paint this portrait, Hakuin( Kanzan shi sendai kibun, Chapter 3, p. 63) cites the Fo-tsu kang-mu as saying the following: "EmperorWu of the Liang once commissioned the painter Seng-yu to draw a portrait of Master Chih.Yu started to draw but was suddenly undecided. Chih then using his finger cut open his mouth and separately revealed the appearances of the twelve-faced Kuan-yin.Some faces were compassionate, others were stern. Yu in the end was unable to draw."


No. 193 **

For a long time I've lived on Han-shan; altogether now several autumns;
All alone I hum my ballads and songs, completely without any cares.

My bramble door I don't shut, yet it's always secluded and still;
The spring bubbles forth its sweet broth—constant, its natural flow.

Chamber of stone, earthen hearth—my cinnabar caldron bubbles and boils; 1.
Yellow pine, tea made from cypress, frankincense in a bowl. 2.

When I'm hungry for food, I have one grain of agada herb; 3.
The seat of my mind harmonious, at peace, I lean up against a big rock.

Seven-character lines.
Agreeing with Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 268) in their conclusion that sha-ting here means tan-sha ting, "cinnabar caldron," the cal-dron in which cinnabar was refined.
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 268) say that eating "yellow pine" (sung-huang) makes the body light. Stuart( Chinese Materia Medica: Vegetable Kingdom, p. 334), qualifying sung-huang as the "flowers" of the pine tree, says they "are considered to have especial action on the heart and lungs, and to be astringent." He adds, "They are distilled into a sort of 'wine,' which is used in 'fullness in the head' and post-partum fever." A tea can be made from the shoots of the cypress (po-ya). For the identification of ju-hsiang as "frankincense," see Shiu-ying Hu, An Enumeration of Chinese Materia Medica [ Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1980], p. 50. On the medicinal uses of frankincense, see Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica: Vegetable Kingdom, pp. 71-72.
Chia-t'o= a-chia-l'o, "agada," a universal remedy for all diseases.


No. 194 **

Cinnabar Mound lofty, erect, standing even with the clouds; 1.
There in the void the Five Peaks—seen from afar they seem low. 2.

Wild Goose Pagoda pushing up high, out beyond the blue cliffs; 3.
"Meditation grove" and old halls, merging with the rainbow. 4.

Wind shakes the leaves on the pines—Red Wall, exquisite, refined! 5.
The mist spews forth at mid-cliff—the road to the immortals indistinct and unseen.

Against backdrop of blue, one thousand mountains, each eighty thousand feet high here appear;
While wistaria vines intertwine, one to another attached in the valleys below.

Seven-character lines.
Standard reference works gloss Cinnabar Mound(tan-ch'iu) as one of the T'ien-t'ai peaks, located 90 li south of Ning-hai county seat in Chekiang.In the Ch'u-tz'u, Cinnabar Mound is the site of immortals.In the "Yüan-yu" we read (translated by David Hawkes, The Songs of the South, p. 196): "I met the Feathered Men on the Hill of Cinnabar; I tarried in the ancient land of Immortality." Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 264) understand Cinnabar Mound to be just another name for T'ien-t'ai and cite Sun Ch'o's "Roaming on T'ien- t'ai" ( Wen- hsüan 11: 6a, p. 148), where, they feel, he makes this identification. Richard Mather ("The Mystical Ascent of the T'ient'ai Mountains," Monumenta Serica 20 [ 1961]: 238) translates the relevant lines: "Then 'Join the winged men upon Tan- ch'iu,' To search for immortality's delightful halls!"
Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 178) identifies wu-feng ( "Five Peaks") as one of the peaks in the T'ien-t'ai range and the site of Kuo-ch'ing Temple.Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, pp. 264-265), on the other hand, feel the "five peaks" are the five sacred mountains in China (see poem 112, note 2) which here, in contrast to Cinnabar Mound, seen from afar seem low.They point out that Sun Ch'o, to his " Roaming on T'ient'ai," explains why T'ien-t'ai is not ranked with the Five Peaks.He says ( Wen-hsüan 11: 4a, p. 147; translated by Watson, Chinese Rhyme-Prose, pp. 80-81): "The reason that Mount T'ien-t'ai is not ranked among the Five Sacred Peaks, that records of it are lacking in the classical texts—is it not that it stands in such a remote and out-of-the-way place that the road there is so long and hard to trace?"
Iritani and Matsumura ( Kanzanshi, p. 265) point out that there was (and still is) a famous "Great Goose Pagoda" (Ta-yen t'a) in Ch'ang-an dur-ing the T'ang.But that could hardly be the pagoda intended here.
"Meditation grove" (ch'an-lin) is a generic term for a Zen temple.
"Red Wall" is one of the peaks in T'ien-t'ai.Its location is given as 6 li north of T'ien-t'ai County (in Chekiang). It was known as one of "Two Wonders," the other being Cascade. Richard Mather (" The Mystical Ascent of the T'ient'ai Mountains," p. 238) comments: "the 'Two Wonders' are the Red Wall and Cascade in the south and southwestern part of the range. The Red Wall, a rocky cliff rising perpendicularly several hundred feet, is marked with horizontal stratification, eroded in some cases into low caves, giving the appearance from a distance of layered brick."


No. 195 **

One thousand lives, ten thousand deaths;
When will it come to an end? 1.

Life and death, they come and they go—'round and 'round
[spin our] deluded feeings. 2.

To not know in the heart, there is this priceless jewel 3.
Is like a blind ass going forward just trusting his feet!

Seven-character lines.
Preferring the variant reading of ho-shih i to fan chi-sheng. With the latter reading, the line would be, "One thousand births, ten thousand deaths; altogether how many lives?"
Or is it, "we turn around in the midst of deluded feelings"? The Chinese is chuan mi-ch'ing.
The "priceless jewel" (wu-chia pao) presumably means Buddha‐ nature in this context.But there is a story in the Lotus-sūtra (Chapter 8, "Wu-pai ti-tzu shou-chi"; T. 262, Vol. 9, p. 29 top), where the priceless jewel is compared to the thought of attaining All-Knowledge.The passage is translated by Hurvitz( Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma [ New York: Columbia University Press, 1976], pp. 164-165) as follows: "There is a man who arrives at the house of a dose friend, where he gets drunk on wine, then lies down.At that time, his friend, having official business, is on the point of going away, when he sews a priceless jewel into the interior of the first man's garment and departs, leaving it with him. The first man, laid out drunk, is unaware of anything. When he has recovered, he sets out on his travels, then reaches another country, where he devotes every effort to the quest for food and clothing. He suffers such hardship that he is content with however little he may get. Then, his friend, encountering him by chance, speaks these words to him. 'Alas, Sir! How can you have come to this for the sake of mere food and clothing? Once I, wishing to afford you comfort and joy, as well as the natural satisfaction of your five desires, in such-and-such a year, on a certain day of a certain month, sewed a priceless jewel into the inside of your garment. Surely it is still there. Yet you, not knowing of it, have suffered pain and grief in quest of a livelihood. How foolish you have been! Now you need only take this jewel, exchange it for what you need, and have things always as you wish, suffering neither want nor shortage.'

The Buddha is also thus.When he was a bodhisattva, he taught and converted us, inspiring in us the thought of All-Knowledge, but later we forgot, and thus neither understood nor were aware of anything.... We were so hard-pressed to support life that we were satisfied with what little we got, though the vow concerning All-Knowledge, still there, had never lost its effect."

On the "priceless jewel" and the "treasure inside your robe," see also poem 283.


No. 196 ***1.

Old and sick in my final years, already one hundred and more;
Face yellow, hair white—but I love living here in the mountains.

Cotton-fur robes wrapped 'round my substance— I pass my time in accordance with fate; 2.
Why should I covet those crafty models found out there among men?

Mind and spirit used to exhaustion for the sake of profit and fame;
One hundred kinds of avarice and greed serve only to advance one's own self.

This unstable world of illusion and change is like snuff on the end of a wick;
When in a grave they bury your body then is this having something or not? 3.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II.
Seven-character lines.
In the Tse-shih-chü ts'ung-shu and Kunaichō editions this poem is divided in two: the first four lines are poem 195; the second four lines are poem 186.
i.e., he wears the poorest of clothes. "Cotton-fur robes" (pu-ch'iu) are robes or coats with hide on the outside and cotton on the inside.
Shih yu-wu. The body will be like the ash of a lamp.


No. 197 **

In this world what is the thing most lamentable?
It's nothing but the three paths, creating a raft made of sin. 1.

No one imitates the sojourner, in the white clouds at the base of the cliff;
One cold, monk's robe—this is the shore where I live. 2.

Autumn arrives—so let it!—the trees in the woods drop their leaves;
Then spring comes—as you please! and the trees open in bloom.

The "three realms" I lay 'cross to sleep, at ease, no affairs on my mind; 3.
The bright moon with a cool breeze—this is indeed my home.

Seven-character lines.
The "three paths" (san-t'u) are the paths that lead to existence in hell, rebirth as an animal, or existence as a hungry ghost.They are also known as the paths of fire, blood, and knives in accordance with the fate that results. The raft is needed to get over the river of life.
Sheng-yai here meaning, I think, his lot in life—i.e., it's as a Buddhist that he chooses to live. Sheng-yai can also mean one's surroundings.
Classical Buddhist cosmology pictures a world made up of three realms (san-chieh, triloka)—the "realm of desire" (kāmaloka), the "realm of form" (rūpaloka), and the "formless realm" (arūpaloka). These can be charted vertically as roughly equivalent to earth (and the underworld), heaven, and beyond, the "formless realm" being a state of mind only realized in meditation.The cosmic mountain, Mt. Meru (or Sumeru), stands between heaven and earth at the center of this cosmos. Han-shan—at the top of the mountain Han-shan—sees himself, I think, in a sense above the "three realms"; he lies across them to sleep (heng-mien). But note that Han-shan is not only in a place that transcends all of space, he is also beyond changes in time; seasonal change means nothing to him.Note also that the poem begins with the "three paths" of sin in the world and ends up beyond the "three realms."


No. 198 **†

In former years I once travelled on an excursion to the great sea;
For the sake of collecting the mani1. I vowed in earnest to seek.

I went directly to the dragon palace, to the place most secret and deep; 2.
At the golden gates I broke off the lock— the master's spirits all grieved!

The Dragon King to protect his treasure had placed it inside his ear;
Soldiers brandished their weapons, sparks flew! there was no way to get close and peek.

But when this merchant, to the contrary, withdrew from inside the doors,
He discovered that bright pearl had been all along right there inside of his mind.

Seven-character lines.
The maṇi being a jewel—normally a bright pearl—symbolic of the Buddha and his teaching.Here it seems specifically to equate with Buddha‐ nature.
Tseng P'u-hsin( Han-shan shih-chieh, p. 174) equates the "dragon's palace" with the eighth consciousness, the ālaya-vijn̅āna or "storehouse con-sciousness."

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


No. 199 **

The numerous stars are spread out and arranged on a night that is both bright and deep;
Here in the cliffs I light just one lamp— the moon has not yet gone down.

Round and full, radiant and light; no need to polish this gem; 1.
Hanging there in the blue sky, that indeed is my mind.

Seven-character lines.
"Round and full" (yüan-man)—i.e., perfect—is a phrase used in the T'ien-t'ai school to describe one of four kinds of doctrine taught by the Buddha (the others being Pitaka [or Hīnayāna], common, and special). See, for example, Kenneth Ch'en, Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1964), p. 309.


No. 200 ***

On top of rocks one thousand years old, footprints of ancient men;
In front of a one hundred thousand foot cliff, one spot that is empty and void.

When the bright moon shines, it's constantly spotless and pure;
No need to be troubled to look for someone to ask which way is west and which east.

Pulleyblank: Han-shan II(?)
Seven-character lines.

Note: Meaning, I think, in good Zen fashion, that we need no guide in our search for enlightenment.We have the record of what others have done (their footprints), and we have that small spot inside—the original mind—that, so long as it shines, will always keep us on course.


PART 1 Poems No. 1— No. 100

Poems No. 201— No. 311