For me, this poem by Chia Tao is a contrasting twin to Poems Just Dotted Down in my last blog. On the one hand it is more self-conscious and struggling, and on the other more poignant and touching with the human face revealed. I like to read them together.
For ten li
I’ve been searching for the hidden temple
Of the cold stream.
Monks sit Ch’an,
One with the snowy night;
Wild geese, approaching Ts’ao-t’ang,
Fly within hearing.
With lamp flames dying,
Our words are subdued;
The rest of our lives
Should be clouds and high peaks.
Up to now,
I’ve been sick a lot,
And the Enlightened Prince
Does not know my name.
From When I find you again, it will be in mountains: selected poems of Chia Tao (2000) Somerville, MA, USA: Wisdom Publications
Chia Tao (779 – 843) an erstwhile Ch’an monk, became a poet during China’s Tang Dynasty. Ch’an was the Chinese predecessor of Japanese Zen.
English translation by Mike O’ Connor.