Cold Mountain

A creative documentary portrait of the Chinese poet Han Shan.

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Poems by Han Shan, a.k.a Cold Mountain

Born thirty years ago
I've traveled countless miles
along rivers where the green rushes swayed
to the frontier where the red dust swirled
I've made elixirs and tried to become immortal
I've read the classics and written odes
and now I've retired to Cold Mountain
to lie in a stream and wash out my ears
--translated by Red Pine

Here we languish, a bunch of poor scholars,
Battered by extremes of hunger and cold.
Out of work, our only joy is poetry:
Scribble, scribble we wear out our brains.
Who will read the works of such men?
On that point you can save your sighs.
We could inscribe our poems on biscuits
And homeless dogs wouldn't deign to nibble.
--translated by Burton Watson

I can't stand these bird songs
Now I'll go rest in my straw shack.
The cherry flowers are scarlet
The willow shoots up feathery.
Morning sun drives over blue peaks
Bright clouds wash green ponds.
Who knows that I'm out of the dusty world
Climbing the southern slope of Cold Mountain?
--translated by Gary Snyder

Dust, this life is lost in dust.
Like bugs, bugs in a bowl
we circle, daily, circle
unable to get out.
We're nothing like the gods, nothing.
Our sorrows never end, ever.
Years and months flow like water
when, all of a sudden, we're old.
--version by Mike Hazard

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