EAST OF THE TOWN
From office confinement all year long,
I have come out of town to be free this morning
Where willows harmonize the wind
And green hills lighten the cares of the world.
I lean by a tree and rest myself
Or wander up and down a stream.
…Mists have wet the fragrant meadows;
A spring dove calls from some hidden place.
…With quiet surroundings, the mind is at peace,
But beset with affairs, it grows restless again….
Here I shall finally build me a cabin,
As Tao Qian built one long ago.
TO MY DAUGHTER
ON HER MARRIAGE INTO THE YANG FAMILY
My heart has been heavy all day long
Because you have so far to go.
The marriage of a girl, away from her parents,
Is the launching of a little boat on a great river.
…You were very young when your mother died,
Which made me the more tender of you.
Your elder sister has looked out for you,
And now you are both crying and cannot part.
This makes my grief the harder to bear;
Yet it is right that you should go.
…Having had from childhood no mother to guide you,
How will you honour your mother-in-law?
It’s an excellent family; they will be kind to you,
They will forgive you your mistakes —
Although ours has been so pure and poor
That you can take them no great dowry.
Be gentle and respectful, as a woman should be,
Careful of word and look, observant of good example.
…After this morning we separate,
There’s no knowing for how long….
I always try to hide my feelings —
They are suddenly too much for me,
When I turn and see my younger daughter
With the tears running down her cheek.
READING BUDDHIST CLASSICS WITH ZHAO
AT HIS TEMPLE IN THE EARLY MORNING
I clean my teeth in water drawn from a cold well;
And while I brush my clothes, I purify my mind;
Then, slowly turning pages in the Tree-Leaf Book,
I recite, along the path to the eastern shelter.
…The world has forgotten the true fountain of this teaching
And people enslave themselves to miracles and fables.
Under the given words I want the essential meaning,
I look for the simplest way to sow and reap my nature.
Here in the quiet of the priest’s templecourtyard,
Mosses add their climbing colour to the thick bamboo;