Tuesday, January 5, 2016

ancient air #33

ancient air #33

in the northern sea there exists a gigantic fish
his length must measure one thousand li—

when he breaches he spouts three mountains of snow:
swimming, he swallows one hundred rivers of water—

he rides roughshod over the shipping lanes—
then radiant breathtaking he takes to the air

I watch him scour the heavens in his flight:
90,000 li & not a sign of stopping

Jack Hayes
© 2016
based on Li Bai:
gǔ fēnɡ sān shí sān

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
The first two sentences of Zhuangzi: Gōga Doi, a 19th century calligrapher
Public Domain

The first two sentences of the Zhuangzi read as follows: “IN THE NORTHERN DARKNESS there is a fish and his name is K'un. The K'un is so huge I don't know how many thousand li he measures.” The opening passage is all relevant to the poem & goes on to state: “He changes and becomes a bird whose name is P'eng. The back of the P'eng measures I don't know how many thousand li across and, when he rises up and flies off, his wings are like clouds all over the sky. When the sea begins to move, this bird sets off for the southern darkness, which is the Lake of Heaven.” (Burton Watson translation)

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