Sightseeing Poems with English Translation by E. C. Chang
Huangshan’s Grand Summit*
How mind-boggling are those overhanging
precipices and steep cliffs!
In grotesques shapes, cypresses
and pines grow in the cracks
of the craggy rocks.
The mountain can be suddenly hidden
and then clear in mist and fog.
The springs fly out down to the
intermittently clear and dim valleys.
To reach the cloudy peak,
we must climb over thousands of steps.
What a wonderful experience to look up the
sky on the overhanging rocks.
Ask me to name a charming spot
on the Huangshan Mountain.
I would like to look at the unusual peaks
from the Grand Summit.
Huangshan is a famous mountain in China.
We come up to the Heavenly Lake*
along a circuitous mountain path.
The limpid lake and the snowy peaks
stay close like one pair.
The waning moon still lingers
with a few thin clouds just before noon.
On a clear day, what a joy to see
the spruce firs and the beautiful lake!
The terraces and temples, both new and old,
incite regrets of bygone days.
The inscription on the stone monument
keeps alive those ancient allusions.
If this fairyland did not truly
belong to Goddess Xiwangmu,
Why would these people here
show so much passion?
Heavenly Lake is located in Xinjiang Province, China.
As the heat wave rises,
the mountain looks
even more in flames.
It lies across the sky with layers
of wrinkle-like surface.
No grass nor bird can be seen
on the mountain.
But one can view in the caves
the ancient art of mural paintings.
Tang San Zang passed here en route*
to India for the Buddhist scriptures.
Monkey King had to borrow a fan
after having stirred up troubles in Heaven.
Stretching in both directions are gullies
with red glittering sandstones.
There is inexhaustible spring water below
that can flow out of the ground.
*Tang San Zang and Monkey Kings are the two major characters in the Journey to the West.
On the Huangshan Mountain
The mountain summits
arise from the clouds.
The cypresses grow
in between the rocks.
On top of the precipitous cliffs
stand the unusual peaks.
Into the deep gullies
the cliff-side springs fly out loudly.
The light breeze cools down
the summer sun;
the clean air purifies the crystal
clear water of autumn.
I have come thousand miles
to this wonderland.
I will drop a key in the valley*
before I leave Huangshan.
*Some travelers left their locks in a chain and then threw the keys into the valley.
The Moraine Lake*
The emerald lake
is like a piece of jade.
Its ten summits tower
to the skies.
Layer upon layer,
green cypresses arise.
Hundreds of glaciers
slope down from side to side.
When clouds are on the move,
the peaks are half-hidden;
when mists are gone,
the valleys look clear and distinct.
As we walk toward
the water source,
we see several ducklings
in the lake quacking.
*Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake in Banff National Park
(Tune: The Immortal at the Sea)
A clear picture shows up after the mist
The lake is surrounded by
snowcapped mountains everywhere.
The emerald water reflects a blue sky.
Numerous icebergs float from side to side.
Connected to the lake is a running stream.
Next to the glacier, a cascade provides
a spectacular scene.
A full view of clouds, peaks,
a valley, and slopes that are green.
A feast to the eyes are the unusual flowers,
grasses, and flowing spring.
At one time, the lookout post was part of the glacier.
Right here, it takes thousands of years
for changes to be noticeable.
Numerous changes in the meanwhile have come along in the human world.
*Mendenhall Glacier is near Juneau, Alaska.
Viewed from a distance, the cliff
looks like a series of beehives.
At the side of a sandy hill across the desert,
an art gallery is in sight.
So magnificent and solemn
are the Buddha statues and clay idols.
Frescoes of portraits and scenes
are a feast for the eyes.
A single monk was the first to work
on the Buddha's caves.
Many more were added
over ten dynasties by people of faith.
The whole world was excited
at the discovery of hidden religious books.
Today thousands of tourists come to Dunhuang
to pay tributes to this great place.
*Mogao Grottoes is located in Dunhuang, China.
Burial Figures of Warriors and Horses
Well digging led to the discovery
of a secret world underneath the farm.
The artifacts had been buried for over
two thousand years in this northern land.
The terra-cotta soldiers with armor
still look powerful and strong.
The lifelike display of copper horses
and chariots keeps one in awe.
He achieved a great cause by having defeated
his enemies with conquered land.
He ordered statues be molded and engraved
so as to guard his tomb after he was gone.
Both merits and demerits of Qinshihuang*
are to be judged by history.
But these national treasures and wonders
should be passed on for all future
generations to see and experience.
*Qinshihuang was the first emperor of Qin, 259-210 B.C., who unified China under the Qin Dynasty.
The Ancient City of Jiao River*
A thousand years ago,
the old city stood on this highland.
What is left now
is a historic site.
Overlooking the steep cliff
of the Jiao River,
the city enjoyed few worries
of enemy assault.
The twilight shines on
its relics at sunset.
The ruined walls give proof
to the history of this great land.
Where are the descendents
of the ancient city now?
The water of Mount Heaven
continues to flow.
*The ancient City of Jiao River is located about six miles west of Turpan.
Jade Gate Pass (1)
This place was once
a post of the old Silk Road.
Nowadays people rarely
travel by this route.
Yellow sand covers
the wide desert;
hot air rises upward
to the sky's rim.
The ancient ruins continue
to withstand sand storms;
the desolate walls
stand quietly in the sun.
The old reed bundles
have not been burned.
They stay close to
the Jade Gate Pass.
Jade Gate Pass (2)
Traveling one hundred miles
to this lonely and barren land.
On a bumpy road,
it is hard to sit or stand.
Yellow sand invades
the ancient path;
hides beyond the desert.
A flock of sheep roam freely
along the reedy marsh;
the ancient ruins face quietly
toward the Great Wall of Han.
As spring winds
do not blow this way,
How can greens be seen
at the Jade Gate Pass?