Friday, November 24, 2017

The Book

the book has boundaries without boundaries;
in that sense the book resembles a house: you

are born & die there again & again, you
hoist it on your back, you shrink into it, you

listen to raindrops tapping the skylight when
morning is gray & the chestnut burrs drop at

random onto the driveway & the blue car—
in every book a blue tandem bike waits parked

on its kickstand in the basement for that one
spin through the park on a blue & yellow June

afternoon; in every book a French press
stands half full on the counter; the sun breaks

through clouds to shine on the paperbark maple
next to the backyard swing—you are the perfect

reader, sleeping until the alarm clock chimes,
walking downstairs as if turning the pages

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dao De Jing 19

Dao De Jing 19

Reject sagacity, abandon expertise
& the people will benefit a hundred times over;
reject altruism, abandon morality,
and the people will return to benevolence;
reject ingenuity, abandon profit,
& thieves will no longer steal.
But these three are superficial & not in themselves sufficient.
Thus follow this directive:
manifest simplicity, embrace modesty,
diminish self-interest, curtail desire.

Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes
Unlike with my original poetry & poetry translations, I don’t asset a copyright claim on my translation of the Dao De Jing. It may be freely used under the terms of the Creative Commons license.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Xuan Yuan Inquires of the Dao”, scroll, color on silk, 32 x 152 cm. Xuan Yuan is the given name of the Yellow Emperor. This painting is based on the story that the Yellow Emperor went out to the Kongtong Mountains to meet with the famous Daoist sage Guangchengzi. Ming Dynasty.
Public domain.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Huazi Ridge

Huazi Ridge

birds fly off into the infinite;
on the mountain range autumn color returns—
walking up, walking down along Huazi ridge:
do grief & regret ever reach an end

Translation by Jack Hayes © 2017
based on Wang Wei: 華子 岡
huá zĭ gāng

Image links to its source in Wiki Commons:
Landscape attributed to Southern Song artist, Yamato Bunkan, Nara, Japan.
Public domain.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sent North on a Rainy Night

Sent North on a Rainy Night

you ask the date of my return: there’s no date;
in the Ba mountains ponds swell with autumn rain—

when may we again trim wicks by the west window,
and speak together about Ba mountain night rain

based on Li Shangyin: 夜雨寄北
yè yŭ jì běi

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Cloudy Mountains”: Mi Youren; 1130.
Public domain.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Taking Down A Trellis

Taking Down A Trellis

the bound sticks already wither & fall;
the gourd’s leaves turn wilted & sparse—

since its white flowers managed to bear fruit
how can green vines not accept this dismantling—

autumn insects’ voices haven’t gone away;
sparrows at dusk: what can they be thinking—

in the cold, things now fall to waste;
human life also has its beginnings

based on Du Fu: 除架
chú jià

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Early Autumn”: Qian Wuan. 13th Century; ink & colors on paper scroll.
Public domain


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Partridge Sky

Partridge Sky

forest groves cut off mountain dawn, bamboo hides the walls,
cicadas’ hubbub fades in grass by the small pond—
white birds appear reeling & reeling again through the sky,
lotus shines vermilion, its delicate scent on the water—

past the cottages,
near the ancient city,
I stroll quietly on goosefoot cane, turning to the oblique light—
thanks to yesterday’s midnight rain
I get another cool day in this drifting life

Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017
based on Su Shi: 鷓鴣天
zhè gū tiān

Many thanks as always to Sheila Graham-Smith for her helpful suggestions.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Autumn Skies Part”: Guo Xi. Song Dynasty – Public domain