My Recent Poems (with English Translations)
Farewell to Mable
(Translated from my original poem written in Chinese)
Everyone must leave this world without exception.
Sooner or later you must go home to your final destination.
Your resting place may be over the mountain or by the water.
So mystical is your journey even the wise ones bewilder.
People complain that life is too short from the very beginning.
How can one measure a lifetime of deep affection and feeling?
Friends and relatives everywhere feel sorrowful during your final days.
Separated by rivers and mountains, the road to see you is too far away.
From now on, sorrows and worries will vanish forever.
You will no longer be hurt by pains or a natural disaster.
The state of your mind will be as calm as the smooth water.
You can no longer be disturbed by a noisy and sarcastic speaker.
Wherever your eternal sleep may be, you will be at peace.
Flowers and plants around you will keep emitting fragrance.
(tr. E. C. C.)
Mourning My Friend Tao K. Ming (1)
Your mind was wide enough for the WAY to go through.
A man of integrity, you often put on a smiling face too.
Suddenly I heard that you are gone forever today,
Feeling like the autumn wind has swept my spring buds away.
Mourning My Friend Tao K. Ming (2)
When maple leaves have turned red, autumn is already here.
Any more changes in color will hasten them to fall and disappear.
Birds and fowls in succession are doomed to leave disorderly.
The thin woods will soon look even more desolate and lonely.
So surprised to hear that you have left your friends forever.
No one has ever returned from this one-way journey ever.
The thought of your humorous but poetical expression
has somewhat helped to lighten my sorrowful emotion.
So open and spacious were your heart and mind!
To your friends you often were so sincere and kind!
Understanding so well the Truth and the Way of life,
You were the kind of man as your name has implied.
Random Thoughts for the Lunar New Years
Now in my autumn years, I don't mind having more dreams than I can dream.
I make an effort to translate rhymed prose and ponder what Dao can mean.
Although my wrinkles and clumsiness can no longer find a place to hide,
My mind is still largely functional to face the vicissitudes of life with pride.
By accepting life as it is, I feel that my “lake” will eventually be in sight.
By viewing things differently, I will find the road to reach my new height.
Before you know it, a lifetime of one hundred years will be gone forever.
For thousands of gold coins I would not trade my “free will” away ever.
Never Too Old to Learn Chinese Poetry
I stayed away from poetry in my working years.
Too old to learn the craft, I once feared.
Silently I recited the famous poems during my walk outside.
In my walk, I also tried to figure out their tones and rhymes.
In the poems I read, I found my invisible teachers.
I enjoyed reading the poems of Su Shi, Xing Qiji, Li Bai, and Du Fu.
I studied verbal parallelism and diction from these masters too.
Abstruse words and phrases would tax my brain.
I tried not to mess up with them.
I liked things that were ordinary, easy, and simple.
Bilingual analysis was found to be quite valuable.
Juxtaposing words in two languages could also be helpful.
I felt like an old cow learning to climb a tree.
When I fell down, no one would know my pain but me!
註: 史密斯山湖 Smith Mountain Lake 在 Virginia 州西南部.
Smith Mountain Lake
tr. E. C. Chang
A lake without the backdrop
of a mountain is too solitary.
With both in place, we can enjoy
their reflections and tranquility.
Twenty thousand acres of low-lying land
were filled with river water.
More than a thousand beautiful houses
rise along each slope and corner.
Countless gulls frequently seen
flying or resting together.
Those residing by the lake often ride
on speedboats to visit each other.
Once poverty-stricken farmers
are now wealthy and rich.
For both residents and visitors,
this lake is a paradise for catching fish.
Lawns have turned green; birds are returning
Wild and famous flowers of all kinds keep blooming.
One following the other, the yellow daffodils and redbuds put on a show.
Before the white pear blossoms are ready, the red plum flowers begin to fold.
The garden is filled with spring colors that brighten my eyes.
New branches come out everywhere to lift my spirit up high.
I feel upbeat as everything under the sun is so bright and charming.
Not to mention that today some old friends will come visiting.
Reflections on Early Spring
Those days of snow and ice are finally gone.
Warm breezes hasten the new growth of bare trees all around.
Spring flowers are in full bloom;
Birds happily sing their tune.
Ducks enjoy their free rides in the clear water,
Willows drop their golden threads on the banks of the river.
World affairs are unpredictable;
Human minds are changeable.
But you are always supportive and affectionately kind.
I can count on you to be there even in rough times.
We are willing to walk over frost and ice together.
We are ready to float or sink hand in hand in the stormy water.
Spring in My heart
Tr. E.C. Chang
A horse gallops along the brook causing the dust to rise.
Everything in the plain appears refreshing to my eyes.
So pleasant to see that my front lawn has turned green;
So glad to hear birds keep chirping in the backyard again.
Time has transformed my temple hair into frosty white.
Life cycles put my aging body at risk of further decline.
There is very little I can do to change the course of life.
All four seasons are spring to me as long as I feel fine.
An Old Man’s Dream
Tr. E. C. Chang
At old age, you should especially expand your visual field.
Take and accept what your life and the universe have given you.
Learn, explore, and go meeting new friends.
Let your mind be like a soaring crane.
Be at ease, unhurried, and unrestrained.
It is up to you to define what is happiness?
No need to brag about your wealth and greatness.
Be open-minded and carry out realistic goals.
Life may be just like a dream.
But if you have no dream to dream,
you will remain poor even if you own all sorts of things.
Tr. E. C. Chang
Just as I like to stay home you love to see lakes and rivers.
No need to find out who is the best wine or tea drinker?
Your beautiful pool and elegant house are beyond compare.
Your astuteness and talents put you in a different sphere.
The dents on my ten-year-old car are clearly noticeable.
Clothes in half of my drawers are mostly abandonable.
We are so fortunate in life to have the chance meeting each other.
So come to my humble house and look at the wild flowers.
Tr. E. C. Chang
To live forever is but a fool’s dream.
To extend years in life is not as hard as it may seem.
Each person is born with different physical and mental endowments.
It is up to you to perceive each event as a blessing or a misfortune.
Holding grudges all the time hastens the pace of aging.
Feeling despondent can impact your body functioning.
There is no panacea for living healthier and longer.
But you can move your body and calm your mind together.
Qigong exercise can help keep your breathing slow and long.
The hand-swinging exercise can help your mind calm itself down.
The benefits of walking are too numerous to mention.
Try to balance your body with activities and relaxation.
Replace fatty and oily foods with less greasy dishes on your dining table.
Treat foods loaded with sugar as the ferocious animal in your neighbor’s stable.
First drink a glass of water when you get up in the morning.
Keep your intestines free from toxins through water-drinking.
Drinking green tea regularly can be beneficial to your health.
Drinking alcohol, like smoking cigarette, can be harmful as well.
Jealousy keeps your heart burning every day.
Forgiveness can keep revengeful feelings away.
Depression is often resulted from chronically mental fatigue.
It may be caused by repeatedly blaming oneself or feeling guilty.
If you can take a step back toward the other person,
You can neutralize your anger aroused from agitation.
You can add years to your life with a sense of humor.
Indifferent attitudes often keep people away from your quarter.
Keep yourself mentally active every day,
You may actually scare Alzheimer’s away.
Don’t be stubbornly biased or ideologically extreme.
A healthy mind rises by being sincere and genuine.
There is no straight road in your life journey.
But you can always move forward by crossing the bridge.
May your body be like the ever-flowing stream of water!
May your mind be like the green cypress and pine forever!
May you be happy all the time!
May you continue to look young and healthy for a very long time!
Landscapes of Northern Ireland
Scenes before our eyes are like painting upon painting.
Pure yellow and elegant green look so vivid and refreshing.
Small trees in the breeze are the dividers of the slanting hillside.
Everywhere cows and sheep are eating or having a good time.
Outside the scattered farmhouses few can be seen working.
Along the coastline beautiful scenes and clouds keep changing.
Unusual rocks in the Grand Causeway are a feast to our eyes.
From place to place we can see landscapes so natural and bright.
Reflection on a Cruise Ship
If life is just like a ship cruising in the ocean or sea,
Sooner or later you will face a scenario so foggy to see.
Be prepared for the undercurrent when the wind quiets down.
In moonlit night watch for the surging waves all around.
Mutual concerns among passenger lessen the impact of a disaster.
Persons with insincere and arrogant behaviors are rarely wise advisers.
Who can bring with him a thousand gold and silver coins when he dies?
Remember, in the nether world, you don’t have to spend a dime.
The Mind of a Cancer Survivor
As a cancer survivor, I am blessed to
Have extended my life to five full years.
Strong winds and rains will no longer
Burden me with worries and fears.
My damaged body does keep me from
Reaching the top of a high mountain.
But my mind can still wander around
Like a sea gull flying over the ocean.
Accepting fate and emptying mundane desires
Lessen the impact of disastrous events.
With forgiveness and tolerance,
I have now fewer grudges and complaints.
When the time comes for me to vanish
With the clouds and cranes,
Do not shed your tears, my dear,
For I have no regret but gratitude to proclaim.
A lone cloud hangs in the blue sky.
So clear and refreshing, it brightens my eyes.
Drifting alone, it appears pure and sound.
An elegant style may be blurred when many clouds are around,
The plum tree by the lake is eager to bloom in the snow.
Not until the ice has melt do other flowers in the woods put on a show.
Cloud and plum blossom have little in common to compare.
But elegant qualities can be felt on earth or in the air.
What Is Happiness?
When it comes, it is like hundreds of spring flowers in bloom.
When it is gone, it resembles a wild goose flying at night alone.
With good timing and soil condition, trees and plants will grow at their best.
With favorable climate, an abundant yield of rice and wheat will come at the time of harvest.
Human fortunes and misfortunes are not just determined by Heaven.
It is up to us to decide if we can go across all the rivers and oceans.
Who is to gain when everyone is anxious to be ahead of other persons?
We will all be better off if we show mutual concern and tolerance.
It takes more than a thousand days just to learn to walk and talk.
To start a family and career, you must continue to study and learn the tools.
Then you must earn enough money to raise your children and send them to schools.
High positions and prestigious status may turn out to be a dream.
New sorrows and old wounds may keep overthrowing your mental stream.
Alas! Happy time in retirement indeed is so short!
Not to mention that you must spend half of your time to sleep and snore!
During our sunset years, we will finally realize that the end of our path is near.
Happy days will soon be over and our bones may deteriorate beyond repair.
Good friends have vanished like geese disappearing in the sky.
Only our old companions still support us like two entwined pines.
So long as it is a balanced diet, eat whatever we like to satisfy our appetite.
Let them call us crazy or quiet, just do anything to please our body and mind.
We can still see old or new friends thousand miles away by surfing the net.
A library of books and pictures can enter our eyes from the clouds and air.
Tune: Zhe Gu Tian
Profit and fame drive him to accumulate a lot of money.
His assets exceed one billion dollars with his oil-rich property.
He owns a lakefront mansion and a luxury yacht nearby.
Every day, he enjoys gourmet food, banquets, and good wine.
Alas, life is too short!
It will soon come to a halt!
He is inflicted with high cholesterol levels, diabetes, and more.
Prayers to God or Buddha will be of no avail sooner or later.
Soon flowers in front of his tomb will keep shining thereafter.
From This Point On
---Reflections on a cruise ship --
At old age, time really seems to fly.
From this point on, just take it easy and have a good time.
It is up to you to decide what “fullness and emptiness” mean.
Any gain or loss can be likened to an occasional wind.
Some make simple things complicated to avoid the “unsophisticated” labeling.
Others, rich or poor, just enjoy the simple way of living.
Who on earth can avoid pains or sufferings in life?
Happy feelings can indeed begin with just a smile.
Poetry and Logic
Famous verse lines tend to be misty in meaning.
Scenery, when fused into emotion, could communicate
like a human being.
Thus, flowers, in sadness, shed their tears.
Birds blamed the wind for separating them in despair.
Li Bai likened his sorrow to the thousand-feet-long white hair.
To Zhang Ji, the sky was pervaded by the autumn frost everywhere.
Lines of personification, though exaggerating
and illogical, can indeed reveal one’s genuine feeling.
Climbing up Step by Step
In retirement, I still don’t have a lot of leisure time.
It is not easy now to walk up and down a hillside.
But I can watch cranes flying through the clouds ---
on a higher ground.
Or, on a quiet path, I can listen to the spring water’s murmuring sound.
Studying classics and inspirational pieces can expand my mental space.
Chanting or translating poetry and the like can relax my face.
A mediocre person like me can still achieve something in life.
It is because I climb up step by step to reach my own height.
At the End
West wind and yellow leaves keep my spirit down again.
Spring must come back for the woods to turn green.
With autumn gone, orioles and swallows can no longer be found.
Snow and frost will increase after some cold rains.
Cosmetic intervention cannot preserve a pretty face.
By helping the poor and the weak, love will not be extended in vain.
Good time and beautiful scenes: how long can they last?
Be they light or dark; fat or thin,
all things will become dust at the end.
Fifty years of frost and wind.
We came to this land to float or to sink.
Skin complexion then dictated where one could sit.
The path for our dreams was winding and deep.
Forgiving nature alleviated all worries and anxiety.
Encouraging words were worth a lot of money.
In our sunset years we are passionate about poetry and art.
Our youthful spirit will never fade from our heart.
Sunrise at the Beach
Each cycle of sunrise and sunset
bids farewell to one day of my years.
Each up-and-down surge of tide
breaks off numerous spindrifts in white.
Don’t be saddened by fallen petals in disarray.
Not to worry that spring will soon go away.
Come here frequently to face the sea;
enjoy the rosy clouds in front of me.
With its magic wand, the morning sun
shows off the floating red mountains.
With its marvelous brush, it replaces the dark sky
with an emerald background and white curtains.
Flying birds enter the pictures as supporting cast.
Making their home on the shore, they are blessed
to be the first to see all the best.
一度濃林今禿樹﹐ 冰霜消盡殘紅。鶯隨燕去避嚴冬。孤鴉無伴侶﹐ 緊守老青松。
經濟低迷高國債﹐ 多人美夢成空。紛爭黨派鬥無窮。萬家無屋住﹐ 夜睡破車中。
Once dense woods, trees are now without leaves.
Fallen flowers are further tarnished by frost and ice.
Swallows and orioles have left to avoid the bitter cold.
Only a lonely crow is in sight.
It clings to the old green pine.
The economy is really bad.
So high is our national debt.
Many people‘s beautiful dreams are broken.
Partisan bickering will continue without end.
Thousands of people have lost their houses and pride.
Some must sleep in broken cars for the night.
Adding Frost to Snow
Cold rain assaults the injured leaves.
Chill wind breaks the frail branches into pieces.
Fallen flowers are trodden on the ground.
Horses gallop over the withering-grass mound.
Frost and ice have thickened the frigid snow.
Birds and animals have all left the thin grove.
Dead end is not the end of the world.
Rigidity and inflexibility too can be uprooted.
Random Thoughts at the Beach
When I am free I like to visit the bay-watching tower.
No mountains are in view, but seagulls can be seen flying over the water.
A cup of green tea helps to refresh my sleepy eyes.
Myriad of spindrifts keep my spirit from low to high.
Youngsters who enjoy surfing often prefer the long summer.
Walking on the beach in late autumn are mainly retired seniors.
People do differ widely in their pleasure-seeking path.
I enjoy the tranquility when the bright moon shines above my head.
Orchid is known for elegance
as peony is for beauty.
Parrots can imitate spoken words
while mockingbirds sing noisily.
Bing enjoys mountain climbing,
but Ding seeks fun in surfboarding.
Jia cares little about fame and wealth
while Yi has insatiable greed for money.
Talents and gifted are encouraged
in systems of diversity.
The capable and virtuous are suppressed
in a dictatorial and ideological society.
People do differ from each other
in artistic or literary style.
Let a hundred flowers bloom and shine
along the riverside.
You asked about eternal life,
but I don’t have an answer.
I can only guess as I am neither
a sage nor a wise thinker.
The universal truth is revealed
in the fine dust or tiny grass.
The idea of paradise and hell
is too profound for me to ponder.
Glorifying the almighty or practicing
Buddhist rules can overwhelm me.
To recite the sutra or pray for favors
consistently is not an easy task for me.
I can only devote myself to a course
without expecting external rewards.
Learn as much as I can today
and enjoy life now without delay.
Field of Vision
Two wild geese from the south fly over
numerous mountains and hills.
Be the journey northbound or southbound,
they always enjoy the sight of lakes and rivers.
They may greet the bright moon near the cliff or
in the valley for the night.
Before taking a perch in the woods, they may
spread their wings and soar to the sky.
Frogs confined to a well rarely see
a meteor shower.
Mice in the cavern can hardly grasp
the sound of snow-melting water.
You can broaden your mind by
expanding your visual field.
Whether you are searching for truth or for pleasures,
you can always reach a new height.