Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chia Tao Poem

So far this my favorite from the book of Chia Tao's poetry I've been reading. The beauty and isolation depicted here is compelling. And the image of the moon and clouds seems reads to me like a symbol for finding clarity of mind.

Overnight At A Mountain Monastery
(translated by Mike O'Connor)

Masked peaks pierce
the sky's cold colors;
here, the trail junctions
with the temple path.

Shooting stars pass
into sparse-branched trees;
the moon travels one way,
clouds the other.

Few people come
to this mountaintop;
cranes do not flock
in the tall pines.

One Buddhist monk,
eighty years old,
has never heard
of the world's affairs.

In O'Connor's notes, he references a story that floored me so much I have to include it. Apparently, in a book written by someone who spent time meeting with Chinese hermits in the mountains during the 1980s, there was a story about an 85 year old monk who had lived in a mountain cave for 50 years. The monk spoke up at one point during a conversation to ask "who this Chairman Mao was whom I kept mentioning".  Wow!

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