Poems by Meng Hao-jan (also known as Meng Haoran A.D. 689 - 740)
ON CLIMBING ORCHID MOUNTAIN
IN THE AUTUMN TO ZHANG
On a northern peak among white clouds
You have found your hermitage of peace;
And now, as I climb this mountain to see you,
High with the wildgeese flies my heart.
The quiet dusk might seem a little sad
If this autumn weather were not so brisk and clear;
I look down at the river bank, with homeward-bound villagers
Resting on the sand till the ferry returns;
There are trees at the horizon like a row of grasses
And against the river's rim an island like the moon
I hope that you will come and meet me, bringing a basket of wine --
And we'll celebrate together the Mountain Holiday.
IN SUMMER AT THE SOUTH PAVILION
THINKING OF XING
The mountain-light suddenly fails in the west,
In the east from the lake the slow moon rises.
I loosen my hair to enjoy the evening coolness
And open my window and lie down in peace.
The wind brings me odours of lotuses,
And bamboo-leaves drip with a music of dew....
I would take up my lute and I would play,
But, alas, who here would understand?
And so I think of you, old friend,
O troubler of my midnight dreams!
AT THE MOUNTAIN-LODGE OF THE BUDDHIST PRIEST YE
WAITING IN VAIN FOR MY FRIEND DING
Now that the sun has set beyond the western range,
Valley after valley is shadowy and dim....
And now through pine-trees come the moon and the chill of evening,
And my ears feel pure with the sound of wind and water
Nearly all the woodsmen have reached home,
Birds have settled on their perches in the quiet mist....
And still -- because you promised -- I am waiting for you, waiting,
Playing lute under a wayside vine.
RETURNING AT NIGHT TO LUMEN MOUNTAIN
A bell in the mountain-temple sounds the coming of night.
I hear people at the fishing-town stumble aboard the ferry,
While others follow the sand-bank to their homes along the river.
...I also take a boat and am bound for Lumen Mountain --
And soon the Lumen moonlight is piercing misty trees.
I have come, before I know it, upon an ancient hermitage,
The thatch door, the piney path, the solitude, the quiet,
Where a hermit lives and moves, never needing a companion.
A MESSAGE FROM LAKE DONGTIN
TO PREMIER ZHANG
Here in the Eighth-month the waters of the lake
Are of a single air with heaven,
And a mist from the Yun and Meng valleys
Has beleaguered the city of Youzhou.
I should like to cross, but I can find no boat.
...How ashamed I am to be idler than you statesmen,
As I sit here and watch a fisherman casting
And emptily envy him his catch.
ON CLIMBING YAN MOUNTAIN WITH FRIENDS
While worldly matters take their turn,
Ancient, modern, to and fro,
Rivers and mountains are changeless in their glory
And still to be witnessed from this trail.
Where a fisher-boat dips by a waterfall,
Where the air grows colder, deep in the valley,
The monument of Yang remains;
And we have wept, reading the words.
AT A BANQUET IN THE HOUSE
OF THE TAOIST PRIEST MEI
In my bed among the woods, grieving that spring must end,
I lifted up the curtain on a pathway of flowers,
And a flashing bluebird bade me come
To the dwelling-place of the Red Pine Genie.
...What a flame for his golden crucible --
Peach-trees magical with buds ! --
And for holding boyhood in his face,
The rosy-flowing wine of clouds!
ON RETURNING AT THE YEAR'S END TO
I petition no more at the north palace-gate.
...To this tumble-down hut on Zhongnan Mountain
I was banished for my blunders, by a wise ruler.
I have been sick so long I see none of my friends.
My white hairs hasten my decline,
Like pale beams ending the old year.
Therefore I lie awake and ponder
On the pine-shadowed moonlight in my empty window.
STOPPING AT A FRIEND'S FARM-HOUSE
Preparing me chicken and rice, old friend,
You entertain me at your farm.
We watch the green trees that circle your village
And the pale blue of outlying mountains.
We open your window over garden and field,
To talk mulberry and hemp with our cups in our hands.
...Wait till the Mountain Holiday --
I am coming again in chrysanthemum time.
FROM QIN COUNTRY TO THE BUDDHIST PRIEST YUAN
How gladly I would seek a mountain
If I had enough means to live as a recluse!
For I turn at last from serving the State
To the Eastern Woods Temple and to you, my master.
...Like ashes of gold in a cinnamon-flame,
My youthful desires have been burnt with the years-
And tonight in the chilling sunset-wind
A cicada, singing, weighs on my heart.
FROM A MOORING ON THE TONGLU
TO A FRIEND IN YANGZHOU
With monkeys whimpering on the shadowy mountain,
And the river rushing through the night,
And a wind in the leaves along both banks,
And the moon athwart my solitary sail,
I, a stranger in this inland district,
Homesick for my Yangzhou friends,
Send eastward two long streams of tears
To find the nearest touch of the sea.
TAKING LEAVE OF WANG WEI
Slow and reluctant, I have waited
Day after day, till now I must go.
How sweet the road-side flowers might be
If they did not mean good-bye, old friend.
The Lords of the Realm are harsh to us
And men of affairs are not our kind.
I will turn back home, I will say no more,
I will close the gate of my old garden.
MEMORIES IN EARLY WINTER
South go the wildgesse, for leaves are now falling,
And the water is cold with a wind from the north.
I remember my home; but the Xiang River's curves
Are walled by the clouds of this southern country.
I go forward. I weep till my tears are spent.
I see a sail in the far sky.
Where is the ferry? Will somebody tell me?
It's growing rough. It's growing dark.
A NIGHT-MOORING ON THE JIANDE RIVER
While my little boat moves on its mooring of mist,
And daylight wanes, old memories begin....
How wide the world was, how close the trees to heaven,
And how clear in the water the nearness of the moon!
A SPRING MORNING
I awake light-hearted this morning of spring,
Everywhere round me the singing of birds --
But now I remember the night, the storm,
And I wonder how many blossoms were broken.