Jingting Shan Hill (after Li Po)


Jingting Shan Hill (after Li Po)

Distant birds flying high
the lonely cloud and I drift
watching each other without end
until only the hill remains.

As always, I question my choices. Chinese-Poems.com offered this transliteration of Li Po’s timeless poem:

Crowd birds high fly utmost
Lonely cloud alone go idle
Mutual watch both not tire
Only be Jingting Shan

How to capture the concept of idleness and the meditative quality of the last line (not to mention the piece as a whole)? Ah, decisions, decisions…

Confession: The last line confounded me, so I set the poem aside for a couple of months. Just yesterday I pulled it out and immediately knew what to do. The power of patience…


27 thoughts on “Jingting Shan Hill (after Li Po)

  1. A perfect rose cannot be forced to bloom in winter’s snow. When the sun returns, the earth warms, and the late spring rain gently soaks the ground, then the rose is called into being by life itself. Then the rose has no choice but to bloom. So it is with a great poem. Well done friend.


  2. I love the amalgam of cloud and (hu)man. A lovely, meditative view of the original poem, transliterated. I like your flowing version better, fwiw! I think the second line of the transliteration is especially important, in how the cloud alone is inert, and the viewer gives it life. What an existential question! I feel it guides us, here, what, 1300-some years later, to the knowledge that we must embrace nature and the environment — that is, if we don’t realize, from the get-go, that we are one with nature already. Whaddya know, Li Po was quite a foreseer!


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