Regulated Poems (shi) with English Translation by E. C. Chang
Walking out of the Mountain Woods
Birds in the mountain cheerfully sing.
A myriad of trees look vibrant and green.
Having walked across the woods for two miles,
I can see in front of me the blue sky.
Sitting quietly on the edge of a rock,
I watch cranes soaring to the clouds alone or in flock.
I lie on a flat stone feeling at ease,
and enjoy the relaxation in mountain breeze.
When my eyes and mind are clear,
I feel as though the universal truth is near.
Too many human noises and mundane views
keep the ways of the world blurred and unreal.
Where on earth can I find the place
that will please my eyes and mind?
Ah, it is here: a limpid lake on my
left and a peak on my right!
The fallen petals drift on
the flowing water.
The butterflies flutter where
fragrance is found.
Flowers bloom all the time
during the spring days.
The bees come to the garden
and enjoy their stay.
They are aware that the colors
of the petals have faded.
Gone are our youthful days.
Our facial complexion will
change day by day.
Suddenly we feel that time
has run out on us.
Yet, we still have so many unfulfilled wishes.
May I ask why life is so short?
Soon after the cicadas have stopped chirping,
the chilly autumn is on its way.
I dreamed of meeting you again.
It seemed so real in the dream.
You still looked the same
as when you were young.
We had never gotten a chance
to meet again over half of our life span.
I wandered far away and did not
have many good things to tell you.
The time has passed so fast,
and I now have a lot of gray hair.
My wrinkles have shown
the toll of dust and wind.
Suddenly I have heard that
you have passed away for sure.
All I can visualize is a playful image
of you, riding on a bamboo hobbyhorse.
We use the same standard
to measure time wherever we go.
How we perceive time
can be quite different and variable.
When life is happy and carefree,
time runs like an escaped rabbit;
when we must work hard day and night,
time moves at the pace of a caterpillar.
In our youth, we care very little that
springtime waits for no one;
now with white hair, we realize that
good times may never again come.
At eighty, it shouldn't be too late to study
like Che Yin* by a bag of fireflies.
Half of the sky often glows in red
before the sun is ready to set.
*Che Yin was a fourth-century scholar who studied under the light of glowworms in his youth.
Perception influences the way
we experience and think.
Ambiguous objects rely on
our mind to supply a link.
John interprets the picture
as the moon behind the clouds.
Peter perceives it as a boat
overturned by billows.
Coarse rice in the wilderness
could be very delicious
for someone who is starving.
Feeling thirsty on the desert, muddy
water could be very refreshing.
Time seems to fly when someone
feels content and blessed.
In rough and hard times, days pass
as if they were years.
Loneliness is not something
that concerns me as I get old.
With a book of poetry, any time
I can recite my favorite poems.
I can imagine peeping at the crying
cranes through the clouds.
Or let my mind follow the flowing
water to see how fish sink and jump.
In the early morning, I can search for
poetic ideas by walking along a quiet path.
In the afternoon, I can listen to birds singing
in the dense grove.
No longer am I able to climb the
Five Sacred Mountains.
But I can still visit the famous places
on hilly ground for fun.