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



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

5 Phases of the October Moon


1. new moon

traffic looks stalled under the Fremont Bridge arch
but it’s far off through rain & the train window

black river’s a one-way mirror for the sky
where the moon must float, absorbing gray moisture

2. waxing crescent

the sky’s undecided--half hour after
blue, half hour before black--but the train might

arrive on schedule under gold station lights:
the crescent’s blurred above angled power lines

3. half moon

cattails & vetch thrive at the parking lot’s edge
where this late afternoon blends shadow & sun—

the yellow clapboard walls align slanted light,
but not slanted light off the divided moon

4. waxing gibbous

streetlight photons cut across the avenue,
glimmer between the birch leaves, an electric

nest; here come the headlights, flying two by two:
moon’s belly swells ripe in an unpeopled sky

5. full moon

the taijitu sign glows black & white against
a stucco building; people are driving home,

lights approaching from all dimensions; how can
this moon be both a mirror & an orphan



Jack Hayes
© 2017

This completes the yearlong cycle of moon quatrains, & also officially signals the completion of the Sunflower Sky manuscript & 101 Portland Moons. Stay tuned for publication information.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September Moon


(8 quatrains)

1. new moon

the clothesline shadow sharpens on white clapboards:
the wooden pins & dish towels float static

between lilac’s silhouette & the window:
sun crescent at the moon’s invisible edge

2. waxing crescent

crickets babble like invisible water
from all directions at once; white headlights flow

east-west, almost steady; afloat in heaven’s
black river: the crescent moon, luminous leaf

3. half moon

the smears where plums dropped to the concrete grow darker
where black plum leaves screen the streetlights; white roses

flank the dim sidewalk, but it’s clear they’ve gone past—
half moon in nameless purple sky: gaze elsewhere

4. waxing gibbous

kitchen light walks through the backdoor screen, stretches
out on the swing chair a low ginkgo bough holds

up—nothing else is stirring, not even that
moon half hidden in the ginkgo’s higher limbs
 
5. full moon

that sconce light on the sky blue wall shines inside
the picture window along with the porch light

across the avenue; in the backyard the
moon burns incandescent yellow by itself
 
6. waning gibbous

electric crimson roses climb the stop sign,
but the blooms don’t seem to listen; sunflowers

bask in light off clapboards: beside a building
made of windows, the waning moon hangs heavy

7. last quarter

clouds at the horizon are such as they are,
far west of the red-lettered gas station sign—

doubtful we’ll comprehend them in this lifetime—
the half moon’s vanishing in more than one sense

8. waning crescent

that flash of a small white plane overhead; I
mistook it for the moon, but it turns north—two

cabbage whites thread through a garden that’s gone past—
this crescent’s a paler cloud, off by itself



Jack Hayes
© 2017