What does my yard contain? A bit of pale winter sun, power lines, the rattle of small birds on bare branches. A cock’s crowing in someone’s backyard. A city, and someone’s still raising chickens in a coop up one of those hillside alleys. Every year I’ve lived here, something has surprised me. Like that cock’s crowing over the chugger of trash trucks and mopeds; has surprised me, and emptied out all expectations. There’s less to own in a world that has no definite shape.
I’m reading one of Cold Mountain (Han Shan)’s poems a day for 2012. I’ll follow the sequence of Red Pine’s translation; I’m uncertain about copyright issues and so haven’t included Red Pine’s translation of individual poems in the post. If you’d like to see the original (in both Chinese and Red Pine’s translation), please see Google Book’s The Collected Poems of Cold Mountain. Today’s poem is (1) on page 37.)