cold mountain (33)


here are the sons of elders
not a one has any pants

It’s the old Taoist story: old sage on the mountain is sipping tea naked, visitors to his hut are shocked, get on his case about it, Why are you naked blah blah blah, he answers, All of the universe is my home, this small hut is my pants, what are you doing in my pants, everyone walks away edified, modern listeners chuckle, find some way to work above story into an anecdote over cocktails or even, depending on levels of pretension, an excuse for their own moral or conventional lassitudes.

Let me tell you: Almost no one gets away with walking around naked in the locales where this story is most popular. I’m not arguing the transcendental point of the story or even the poem. But the world applauds in fiction what it won’t tolerate in fact. That the reverse is also true is simply the way things are.


The above two lines, which are the last two in the Chinese poem, are not Red Pine’s translation. But, as always, the original Chinese and (Red Pine’s) English are pp. 58-59, here.


One comment on “cold mountain (33)

  1. Peter says:

    I enjoyed reading this a number of times.

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