Thursday, October 15, 2009

old fisherman dreams

aivazovskiy leave taking (detail)


the buddhist nun hai-yin (tenth century),
having taken holy orders in her youth,
lived in tz'u-kuang temple in ch'eng-tu (in present-day szu-ch'uan province)
to the end of the t'ang.


in the kaleidoscopic perspectives
she paints through her words,
she offers insight into the inner
and outer worlds of a person
in whom those worlds are merged inexorably.

sadly, this is the only one of her poems that has been preserved.

~

at night, aboard a boat: one text

the river's colours draw out
the colours of the sky.
the sound of wind
whips up
the sound of waves.
the traveler
tastes bitter thoughts of home.
old fisherman dreams
of ghosts, and
twitches.
wakes.
he raises oars:
fog-clouds
make land to the fore.
shifts the boat:
moon follows
in its wake.
chants a few
bits of poems.
stops.
like seeing a line of mountains
crossing
the horizon, far ahead.

translated by jeanne larsen

16 comments:

Rachel Fenton said...

Maybe she only wrote one - a one hit wonder :)

beautiful with that image though:)

Golden West said...

Lovely, Steven.

Phoenix said...

what is she trying to say? that whatever you are is reflected on your outside..? the instance of the river drawing out the colors of the sky.. or the wind that she cannot see whipping up the sound of the waves she can see.. she can see the waves.. but the sound she only hears.. and it is the sound that is the combined effect of the visible (wave) and the invisible (wind).. but then the wave is also an effect... perhaps I'm getting carried away here...

Barry said...

She is painting a thoughtful image here, steven. And I love the picture of the boat you chose as accompaniment.

willow said...

A soft and beautiful post, Steven.

steven said...

hmm rachel - i never thought of that!!!! steven

steven said...

hi golden west - thanks!!!! steven

steven said...

hi phoenix - my first thought on reading this and posting it was that it created a moment of awareness. the details almost certainly carry symbolic weight, but really it's a resonant moment in which the outside and the inside meld into one. let yourself get carried away. i love to know what visitors here are thinking! steven

steven said...

hi barry - lovely to see you here. thanks for the nice compliment. steven

steven said...

hello willow - thankyou for that. the picture accompanying your comment is similarly soft and beautiful!!! steven

Friko said...

that's very beautiful indeed and I love the picture.
I want to explore the 'middle-way' for myself but I am not sure how to go about it.

I am also glad that you are visiting again. Thank you. If you have the time look at the post before the walk, to my great surprise it was quite a hit. You might like the voice, being a teacher.

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

I very much like the idea of painting through words. Having spent most of my best life painting in oils and trying to please clients of all stripes, I like words best. You can use any word you can spell and only you know what you meant to write. Painting is not like that. You have to take the colors and mix them to get a facsimile of what you can say.

steven said...

hi abe - me too. i love skilfull writers who can paint pictures in my mind. steven

Alaine said...

What an awful shame there isn't more of hai-yin's poetry. Love the painting too; I could find a place for that.

steven said...

hi alaine - nice to see you!!! yes, both are what we call here "keepers". have a peaceful day in springy australia. steven

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

This is a lovely poem and your image is perfect with it. Lizzy