A Dream of T'ien-mu Mountain

Li Po
Speak of the Blessed Islands men from the Ocean’s brim.
Truth is hid in their endless billows and mist-wreaths dim.
Tell of the T’ien-mu Mountain men in the land of Yore,
Seen there, when rainbows scatter, and clouds conceal no more!
Reaching up to the zenith, the skyline it seems to fill,
Huge like the Sacred Mountains piled over Ch’ihch’eng Hill.
T’ien-t’ai Mountain is fifty myriads of feet in height,
Crushing, about to fall, soaring in awful might!
Seeing, I longed to dream of Wu and the land of Yore:
Flew one night on a moonbeam over the Mirror’s shore.
Moon, that reflected my shadow dark on the lake below,
Carried me thence to Yen-ch’i, land that the spirits know.
Place where the ancient Hsieh dwelt is yet to be seen.
Gibbons howl by the water dimpling so purely green.
Bound on my feet the clogs were used by Hsieh of old,
Mounting the dun clouds ladder, halfway up I behold
Sea and Sun; and I hear mystic carols in Space.
Crags and hollows commingled, hard is the road to trace.
Flower-drugged, I lean on a rock. Lo! Night her shadow flings!
Bears’ roars and dragons’ bellowings boom over rocks and springs!
Startled, how forests quake on ridge over ridge of crags!
Black are the sombre clouds, waiting the rain to pour.
Placid the water still; above it the mist wraith lags.
Flash! and the hollow hills blasting the lightning tore.
Crash! and the stone gates burst of the vaulted sky in twain.
Boundless those azure spaces; end is there none in view.
Sunlight and moonbeams commingle golden and silver hue.
Clad in rainbows, and mounted on coursers of rapid wind,
Lords of the clouds come trooping; and trooping more behind.
Tiger roar  of the drums, psalteries’ oriole note.
Orderly mixing disorder, crowding the genii float.
Suddenly feared my soul; twanging my spirit leapt.
Startled and trembling sprang I. Sorely I sighed and wept,
Feeling that I was awake; that it was but a dream now past.
Gone all those roseate hues the mist-wreaths had mingled last!
Thus are the joys of life! for all things pass away.
Streamlike flowing a-down, old Time will never stay.
Now, as I bid you farewell, when will you turn again,
Over the verdant mountains loosing the White Deer’s rein?
Wishing to go, we ride it seeking the famous hills….
Eyes must I bow, and body bending, submit to serve
Rich and powerful below, where never I may deserve
Happy a thought to think, or carelessly laugh at ills?
 

More by Li Po

In the Mountains on a Summer Day

Gently I stir a white feather fan,
With open shirt sitting in a green wood.
I take off my cap and hang it on a jutting stone;
A wind from the pine-trees trickles on my bare head.

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A double line of meditators sits
on mats, each one a human triangle.
Evacuate your mind of clutter now.
I do my best, squeezing the static and
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activity looks (you can take the girl...)
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Observe your thoughts, then gently let them go.
I’m watching them all right, unruly dots
I not only can’t part from but can’t help
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no sooner being thought than sprouting limbs,
no longer motionless but striding proudly,
beautiful mental jukeboxes that play
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Desires are your jailers; set them free
and roam the hills, smiling archaically.
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huffing and puffing in the mountain air
and saying to myself, I’m trying but
it’s hopeless; though the tortures of the damned
make waking difficult, they are my tortures;
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like howling pets I nonetheless adore
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