Monday, July 03, 2006

Deep in the mountains

Some days, all life seems to come down to what you want to do and what you need to do, whether the need comes from outside or inside you. Today, all I want to do is study mathematics and read a few good travel books and poems.
On a Portrait of the Poet

I didn't know my own face
until it was painted by Li Fang.

Quietly, I study the bones, the spirit.
He must be a man from deep in the mountains.

The reed willow rots quickly.
The wild deer's heart is impossible to tame.
Why have I walked these red palace stairs
in servitude for five long years?

Uncompromising, inflexible character
makes it difficult to share the world.

Those who are called nobles
give me good reason to fear.

I must resign and seek retreat to save
what's left of this body of clouds and streams.

Po Chu-i translated by Sam Hamill in Crossing the Yellow River


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