Living In Poverty

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Gushan from West Lake

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Living In Poverty
        Ji Yuan (Song)

The stove
In my mountain kitchen
Is tracked with blue moss.
Dust fills the almsbowl.
There isn't any food.

A pity
Mice and sparrows 
Haven't heard about poverty yet,
Drilling into the room, drilling
Through the walls.

Or, an alternate translation by Dongbo:

My mountain kithchen
        covered with jade-green moss,
Pots and pans full of dust
        not a morsel to eat.
Pity the rats don't know I'm poor,
Non-stop gnawing through my walls!�
Pín Jū
Shān chúzào shàng tái hén bì,
Zhāi yú shēng chén wú lì shí.
Kělián quèshǔ wèi zhī pín,
Chuān wū chuān yōng bù zànxī.
Translator: Paul Hansen 翻譯者

"Ji Yuan, native of Hangzhou, was born in 976 and became an apprentice monk at the age of seven when he 'left home' (a Buddhist term meaning to leave the secular life and enter the order of monks and nuns) at the Longxingsi in that city. In his youth he made notable progress in his study and applications of the teachings of the Tiantai School of Chinese Buddhism. Later he was the abbot of the Maonao Monastery on Gushan Island in West Lake, just outside the city. There, he and the cultivated hermit Lin Pu became friends and probably exchanged poems, though none of the latter's poems to Ji Yuan remain today."

(Quoted from page 77 of The Clouds Should Know Me By Now, edited by Red Pine and Mike O'Connor. The poem can be found on page 99 of this delightful book of poems by Chinese monks.)

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