Lines for a Taoist Adept

My friend lives high on East Mountain. 

His nature is to love the hills and gorges. 
In green spring he sleeps in empty woodland, 
Still there when the noon sun brightens. 
Pine-tree winds to dust his hair. 
Rock-filled streams to cleanse his senses. 
Free of all sound and stress, 
Resting on a wedge of cloud and mist.

Li Po

Grab the Golden Wave

The first crescent of the moon

Shows its form like a beauty’s brow:

Paired with the light of the sun,

Its clear purity abounds.

If you want to gain productive energy

And conjeal the jade broth,

First seek the wax and wane,

Grab the golden wave.
Cui Shaoxuan

In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood–
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks–is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences! 
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight comes again!
A man goes far to find out what he is–
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Theodore Roethke

Notes for Canto CXX

I have tried to write Paradise

Do not move
Let the wind speak
that is paradise.

Let the Gods forgive what I
have made
Let those I love try to forgive
what I have made.

Ezra Pound

When you are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep, 
And nodding by the fire, take down this book, 
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look 
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; 

How many loved your moments of glad grace, 
And loved your beauty with love false or true, 
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, 
And loved the sorrows of your changing face; 

And bending down beside the glowing bars, 
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled 
And paced upon the mountains overhead 
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

W. B. Yeats

Bitter Rain

Bitter rain soaks the pile of kindling twigs.
The night so cold and still the lamp flame hardly moves.
Clouds condense and drench our stone walled hut.
Broken rushes clog the reed gate’s way.
The stream gurgles, a torrent in its bed.
That’s all we hear. Only rarely, comes a human voice…
But oh, how priceless is this peace of mind that fills us
As we sit on our heels and put on another Chan monk’s robe!


Master Hsu Yun

Before our Body existed

The great forge produces mountains and waters, 
Containing therein the potential of creation. 
In the morning, greet the energy of the sun; 
At night, inhale the vitality of the moon.
In time the elixir can be culled; 
With the years, the body naturally lightens. 
Where the original spirit comes and goes, 
Myriad apertures emit radiant light. 

Before our body existed,
One energy was already there.
Like jade, more lustrous as it’s polished,
Like gold, brighter as it’s refined.
Sweep clear the ocean of birth and death,
Stay firm by the door of total mastery.
A particle at the point of open awareness,
The gentle firing is warm.

Sun Buer

Spring Breeze

A falcon hovers at the edge of the sky.

Two gulls drift slowly up the river.

Vulnerable while they ride the wind,
they coast and glide with ease.

Dew is heavy on the grass below,
the spider’s web is ready.

Heaven’s ways include the human:
among a thousand sorrows, I stand alone.

Du Fu