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Master of Cold Mountain and his friend Shih te The Foundling two grotesque little men guffawing in the wilderness This image of the two recluses is based upon information contained in the preface to the poems of Han shan and Shih te written by an official of the T ang Dynasty named Lii ch iu Yin Outside of what can be gleaned from the poems themselves this is the only source we have


COLD MOUNTAIN,Reissued for the,Columbia College Program. of Translations from,the Oriental Classics,Wm Theodore de Bary Editor. 11 111 11 111 OIl1d Shih Ie detail by Liang K ai XIII century. by the T ang poet,Translated and with an Introduction. Burton Watson,COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS,To Janet and John. Unesco Collection of Representative Works,Chinese Series.
has been accepitd,in the Chinese Series,of the Translations Collection. of the United Nations,Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. Copyright 1962 Burton Watson,Copyright 1970 Columbia University Press. First published 1 962 by Grove Press,Reissued 1 970 by Columbia University Press. Columbia Paperback Edition 1 970 Number 1 06, International Standard Book Number 0 231 03450 4 Paper.
International Standard Book Number 0 231 03449 0 Cloth. Fourth cloth and sixth paperback printing,Printed in the United States of America. Cold Mountain Han shan is one of the Transla,tions from the Oriental Classics by which the Com. mittee on Oriental Studies has sought to transmit to. Western readers representative works of the major, Asian traditions in thought and literature Our inten. tion is to provide translations based on scholarly study. but written for the general reader rather than primar. ily for other specialists,The poems of Han shan are products of the golden. age of Chinese poetry and also of the rise of Ch an. Zen Buddhism in the T ang dynasty Besides having, a wide influence on later religious literature in China.
and Japan they have been considered among the clas. sics of Chinese poetry generally, Han shan has attracted the attention of such trans. lators and poets as Arthur Waley and Gary Snyder,but Professor Watson s selection of one hundred. poems representing about one third of Han shan s, works is the largest collection so far in English trans. lation Through this reprinting we hope to keep them. available to students of both Chinese literature and. Chinese Buddhism,Wm Theodore de Bary,INTRODUCTION, Anyone familiar with Chinese or Japanese art has un. doubtedly at some time seen pictures of Han shan The. Master of Cold Mountain and his friend Shih te The. Foundling two grotesque little men guffawing in the. wilderness This image of the two recluses is based upon. information contained in the preface to the poems of. Han shan and Shih te written by an official of the T ang. Dynasty named Lii ch iu Yin Outside of what can be. gleaned from the poems themselves this is the only. source we have for the life of Han shan, Lii ch iu Yin s account begins with the statement that.
no one knows where Han shan came from It is said, the preface continues that he was a poor and eccentric. scholar who lived in retirement at a place called Cold Cliff. in the T ien t ai Mountains some twenty miles west of. the district town of T ang hsing There he often used to. go to the Kuo ch ing Temple situated nearby where a. man named Shih te who worked in the kitchen of the. temple would give him bits of leftover food to take home. After a brief description of Han shan s ragged dress. and unconventional behavior Lii ch iu Yin then relates. how he first happened to hear of the recluse On the eve. of his departure for a new post in the vicinity of the T ien. t ai Mountains he was stricken with a severe headache. The doctors he consulted were unable to help him but a. Zen Master named Feng kan who had recently left this. same Kuo ch ing Temple and was traveling in the neigh. borhood succeeded in curing it When Lii ch iu Yin asked. if there were any worthy teachers at his temple Feng kan. told him about Han shan and Shih te who were in reality. he said incarnations of the bodhisattvas Manjusri and. INTRODUCTION, Samantabhadra two prominent deities in the Buddhist. After arriving at his new post Lii ch iu Yin went at. once to the Kuo ch ing Temple to ask about Feng kan and. the two holy men He was first taken to see the spot. where Feng kan had lived when he was at the temple. I then proceeded to the kitchen where I saw two,men standing in front of the stove warming them. selves and laughing loudly I bowed to them where, upon the two raised their voices in chorus and began. to hoot at me They joined hands and shrieking with. laughter called out to me Blabbermouth blabber,mouth Feng kan You wouldn t even know the Bud.
dha Amitabha if you saw him What do you mean by,bowing to us. The monks all came rushing in and gathered, around astonished that a high official like myself. should be bowing to two such poor men Then the two. joined hands and dashed out of the temple I sent,someone after them but they ran too fast and had. soon returned to Cold Cliff, Lii ch iu Yin later dispatched men with presents of. clothing and medicine for the hermits but when Han. shan saw the gift bearers coming he shouted Thieves. thieves and vanished into a cave which closed after. him Shih te likewise disappeared Lii ch iu Yin then en. listed the aid of the monks in gathering together a num. ber of poems which Han shan had inscribed on trees. and rocks or the walls of the houses and offices in the. nearby village as well as some poems of Shih te until. he had made up a collection of over three hundred poems. And when did all this take place Lii ch iu Yin gives. no indication and his preface contrary to Chinese cus. tom is undated Lii ch iu Yin represents himself as a hi h. INTRODUCTION, official and prefixes his name with a very imposing title.
But there is only one mention of anyone by this name to. be found in other works of the period and it refers almost. certainly to another person This fact alone is peculiar. enough if Lii ch iu Yin was in fact as high up in the bu. reaucracy as his title indicates Furthermore the style of. the preface awkward and wordy hardly suggests the, writing of an eminent official All other sources that tell. us anything about Han shan and Shih te appear to be. later than the preface and based upon it For all we know. therefore the whole picture of the two recluses built up. in the preface may be nothing more than a literary fic. The poems however remain over fhree hundred of, them as Lti ch iu Yin says most of them attributed to. Han shan a few to Shih te and Feng kan none of the. latter translated here If the reader wishes to know the. biography of Han shan he must deduce it from the,poems themselves. Though some of the poems in the collection are prob. ably later additions a large part of them appears to be by. one man a gentleman farmer troubled by poverty and. family discord who after extensive wandering and per. haps a career as a minor official retired to a place called. Cold Mountain among the T ien t ai range In one poem. he says he went to Cold Mountain at the age of thirty. and in another he speaks of having lived there thirty. years i these are the only bits of information we have on. the chronology of his life Scholars with no real evidence. to go by have suggested a variety of dates for the poet s. lifetime ranging from the late sixth to the late ninth cen. tury The most recent hypothesis based on internal evi. dence of the poems and the fact that no reference to them. is found before the ninth century places him in the late. INTRODUCTION, eighth and early ninth centuries This is the dating fol. lowed by Arthur Waley and Yoshitaka Iriya see Trans. lator s Note and for readers who like their poets neatly. chronologized I suggest this pigeonhole with the under. standing that it is provisional and subject to the changes. of academic fashion, The poems deal with a remarkable range of subjects.
Some are fairly conventional laments on the shortness of. life others are complaints of poverty or biting satires on. avarice and pride There are accounts of the hardships of. official life under the Chinese bureaucratic system at. tacks on the worldly Buddhist clergy and ridicule of the. fatuous attempts of the Taoist alchemists and devotees. to achieve immortal life And finally there are the incom. parable descriptions of Han shan s mountain retreat and. his life there These vivid delineations of the natural. world which are at the same time allegories of spiritual. questing and attainment are the poems that have made. his name famous in China and Japan Arthur Waley in. the introduction to his translations of Han shan has. written of these poems Cold Mountain is often the, name of a state of mind rather than a locality It is on. this conception as well as on that of the hidden treas. ure the Buddha who is to be sought not somewhere out. side us but at home in the heart that the mysticism of. the poems is based Encounter Vol III NO 3 Septem, Buddhism had a dramatically vitalizing effect upon. Chinese art inspiring centuries of glorious sculpture. architecture and painting Its influence on Chinese litera. ture waS less spectacular in fact particularly in the. field of poetry decidedly disappointing Since China al. ready had a long and well developed tradition of lyric. rhapsodic and descriptive poetry when Buddhism was. INTRODUCTION, introduced in the first century A D one woul expect to. see the piety and intellectual excitement which the new. religion aroused in China translated into superb poetry. But Chinese Buddhism produced no Pearl or Paradise. Lost no Dante or Donne True there is an enormous, body of Buddhist poetry in Chinese But it is for the most. part no more than rhymed sermonizing seldom rising. above doggerel for all its doctrinal importance its liter. ary value has been customarily rated and rightly so. I think rather low,In the works of most first rate Chinese poets Bud.
dhism figures very slightly usually as little more than. a vague mood of resignation or a picturesque embellish. ment in the landscape the mountain temple falling into. melancholy ruin the old monk one visits on an outing. in the hills Han shan however is a striking exception. to this rule The collection of poetry attributed to him. contains a certain number of sermons in doggerel the. sin of meat eating is one of the most frequent themes. though they may not be from his hand at all But it also. contains a large proportion of excellent poetry which is. permeated with deep and compelling religious feeling. For this reason he holds a place of special importance in. Chinese literature He proved that it was possible to. write great poetry on Buddhist as well as Confucian and. Taoist themes that the cold abstractions of Mahayana. philosophy could be transformed into personal and im. passioned literature The surprising thing is that so few. of his countrymen ever felt inclined to explore the paths. The language of his poems is simple often colloquial. or even slangy the slang of a thousand years ago all but. unintelligible today Many of his images and terms are. drawn from the Buddhist sutras or the sayings of the. INTRODUCTION, Southern School of Zen whose doctrine of the Buddha. as present in the minds of all men of Buddha as the. mind itself he 50 often refers to At the same time he. is solidly ithin the Chinese poetic tradition his lan. guage again and again echoing the works of earlier. poets particularly the eremitic poets of the preceding. Six Dynasties era All the poems translated here em. ploy the conventional five character line and consist. usually of eight lines The even numbered lines rhyme. the same rhyme being used throughout a single poem. Some are in the rather free old poetry style others. in the more exacting la shih or regulated verse form. with its elaborate verbal and tonal parallelisms,The poems are arranged somewhat differently in. different editions and since they seem from the be. ginning to have had no fixed order I have taken the. liberty of making may own arrangement in the transla. tion I began with some poems that clearly deal with. the poet s early life along with some conventional ro. mantic lyrics These are followed by satires and poems. showing the writer s increas1i1g disgust with the world. many of them marke l by considerable spleen and self. pity Some of these picture the poet as already an old. man and may not be by Han shan at all Next come the. poems on his retirement to Cold Mountain his experi. ences there and the alternating moods of elation and. despair which beset him The selection closes with a. group of poems on Buddhist themes All the poems are. untitled As Iriya remarks it is up to the reader bim. self to supply titles,Mount T ien t ai the location of Cold Mountain is. a range of mountains stretching along the seacoast in. the northeastern corner of Chekiang Province south of. INTRODUCTION,the Bay of Hangchow The mountains famous for. their wild and varied scenery were from early times. venerated as the home of spirits and immortals and. from the third century on became the site of numerous. Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, It might be well to add here a word on the interpre.
tation of the poems which I have adopted Han shan, has traditionally been regarded as essentially a Bud. dhist or more specifically a Zen poet and surely the. frequent allusions to the sutras in his work the typi. cally Buddhist terminology the references to sitting. would Seem to justify this view though Taoist in, clined critics have attempted on the basis of Taoist. references to claim him for their side If we accept the. dating suggested above it means that he lived at a. time when Chinese Zen was in its period of greatest. creative activity a period when many fervent Bud,dhists repelled by the formalism and aristocratic. mindedness of earlier T ang Buddhism preferred to re. main as chit shih or lay believers rather than become. members of the clergy On the basis of the information. in Lii ch iu Yin s preface Han shan has therefore been. venerated particularly in Japan as a typical example. of the carefree enlightened Zen layman The commen, taries on his poems all by Japanese Zen monks have. worked out the implications of this view in detail. While this interpretation is probably basically, sound it has led to some rather forced readings of the.
poems An example is the word sitting in the poems, in some or even all instances it may as the commenta. tors say refer to zazen the particular Zen method of. meditation but on the other hand it may equally well. mean no more than just plain sitting On a larger and. INTRODUCTION, more serious scale the commentators have been forced. to resort to some drastic wrenching in their interpreta. tions of the poems by the fact that Han shan though. at times speaking from a pinnacle of calm and enlight. mment just as often seems to be profoundly involved. in the misgivings and anxieties that enlightenment is. supposed to dispel Christian saints may be permitted. their lapses of faith but in Zen with its strong empha. sis on individual effort and self reliance a man once. enlightened is expected to stay that way Zen commen. tators have therefore been forced to regard Han shan s. professions of loneliness doubt and discouragement. not as revelations of his own feelings but as vicarious. recitals of the ilIs of unenlightened men which he can. still sympathize with though he himself has tran, scended them He thus becomes in effect the traditional. bodhisattva figure compassionate in the world but, Following lriya I have declined to accept this view. If poets must be consistent then some such interpreta. tion is obviously necessary paPl icularly if one is to ac. cept the picture of Han shan the laughing recluse, built up in Lu ch iu Yih s preface and reconcile it with.
the poems themselves Personally I prefer to read the. poems as a chronicle of spiritual search rewarded at. times by moments of wonderful contentment but at,other times frustrated by loneliness and despair. rather than as a pat report of success,Burton Watson.

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