Mountain Rocks 1

Han, Yu (768 A.D.-824 A.D.)

Precipitous rocks towered over the narrow mountain path.
When I arrived at the temple,
Bats flew in silhouette against the sunset.
After entering the main hall, I sat on the steps.
Outside there was ample fresh rain,
The banana leaves were large and glossy,
And the jasmine flowers were beautiful.
The monk said the bas-reliefs of Buddha on the ancient wall were magnificent,
But I could not see them clearly with my torch.
After making my bed and dusting off the straw mat 2, the monk served me a meal.
Brown rice and vegetables were sufficient to free me from hunger.
As I lay down at midnight,
It was completely quiet;
I did not even hear the sound of insects.
The fresh moon rose from the mountain;
The moonlight penetrated through the door.
At dawn I left the temple by myself.
It was difficult to recognize the correct path.
I wondered aimlessly up and down hills through fog and smoke.
The mountain was red;
The valley's stream was green;
The flowers were in full splendor.
I frequently met pine trees that would require ten people to reach around them.
I crossed the stream barefoot by stepping from stone to stone.
The water babbled and the wind made my clothes billow.
How natural it is to enjoy these things!
Why should we be stressed and reined in by someone else?
Oh! My friends!
I wish I could stay here until I become old.

1 This poem was written in 801 A.D. while Han was on his way to exile. The peaceful description of the mountain and the temple shows that he was tired of being controlled by others and wished for a peaceful life.

2 A straw mat laid on the bed would cool one's body in the summer.