Some poems by Wang Wei

This poem is by Saigyo, the Japanese medieval poet extraordinaire:

 michinobe ni

shimizu nagaruru

yanagi kage

shibashi tate koso


Stopping off,

Next to a quietly flowing stream

In the willow’s shade.

I said, ‘Just a while’

Stopping, standing there


These short poems by Wang Wei, the Buddha Poet of the Chinese Tang Dynasty.  They contain veiled references to Buddhist ideas, such as sunyata – the essential ‘emptiness’, or non-substantiality when not viewed through the prism of human conceptualization of reality.  They are essentially symbolic meditations on the nature of reality.  I have tried to keep parallelism between couplets when I think it may be important.

In the Mountain – Wang Wei

In Bramble Stream, white stones jut out

Cold weather; red leaves are sparse

The Mountain     road, originally, has   Nothing   of    Rain

 The Sky’s     greenery    wets                My                  Robe


Bamboo Grove

Alone I sit, amidst a dark bamboo grove.

I strum the lute and make another long whistle

This Deep Forest,  which no man can       Know

The Bright Moon comes, and together we Shine.


Empty mountain, No       Sight Of        Man

But one can hear  Men’s Chattering Sounds

Returning              Shadows enter the deep forest

Returning again to Shine   upon    the green moss.

My interpretation:  Even in a secluded place, the ‘men’s voices’ return, you cannot run from the cares of the world.  Like the moss, upon which the sun returns to shine every day and the shadows obscure, a person’s mind lies in the coordinates of reality to where it has been conditioned and must suffer the cares and voices which it has been conditioned to hear

Mount Chung-Nan 

Taiyi Peak approaches the capital

Mountains linking till the edge of the sea

The white clouds, glancing back  -  meeting

A green haze, entering and looking – nothing

The divided lands round Middle peak, changing

Shade and shine on all the valleys,       changing

Wishing for a place where one might stay

Across the river, call for the woodsman.


Villa at the Foot of Mount Chungnan – Wang Wei

Middle years: one with the Way

Late years: a home in the Southern mountainside

I go off often on solitary walks.

These scenes, known only to me.

Walking to the source of the stream,

Sitting, watching the clouds rise up

Sometimes a meeting with an old woodsman

We talk, laugh not knowing when to return.

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