Seeing Off Master Can Liao


 
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The Huanghe Gudao, old course of the Yellow River in Xuzhou.

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Seeing Off Master Can Liao
        Su Shi 1036-1101

(Han Yu Says:)
Monks practice the bitter and empty way,
A hundred thoughts only frozen ash.
With one sword slash only one breath,
Burnt millet, nothing original or novel.
For good poetry one must act recklessly....
Good literature is born from contention.
New poems are like shards of jade,
Spoken words apt and clear.
Tuizhi says cursive script can
Reveal all thought in a composition.
Grief, depression, tumbling thoughts,
All recorded by one swipe of galloping brush.
He put down poetry of Buddhist monks,
Whose bodies are like dry wells,
Rejecting life, living detached.
How can they belch bold passion?
But I say such thinking won't do,
True talent is more than imagination.
If you desire distinct poems use subtle words,
Containing impenetrable emptyness and silence.
Silence comprehends heaven's tempo,
In emptyness ten thousand vistas soar.
Observe life as you go among men,
And hermits on mountain peaks.
A mixture of salty and sour is pleasing,
The point of tension creates an aftertaste.
Poetry and Buddhism are not mutually exclusive,
These words surely will please you!
 
Sòng Cān Liáo Shī
Sū Shì 1036-1101

Shàngrén xué kǔ kōng,
Bǎi niàn yǐ huī lěng.
Jiàn tóu wéiyī chuī,
Jiāo gǔ wú xīnyǐng.
Húwēi zhú wúbèi,
Wénzì zhēng wèi bǐng.
Xīn shī rú yùxiè,
Chū yǔ biàn qīng jǐng.
Tuì zhī lùn cǎoshū,
Wànshì wèicháng píng.
Yōuchóu bù píngqì,
Yī yù bǐ suǒ chěng.
Pō guài Fútúrén,
Shì shēn rú qiūjǐng.
tuírán jì dànbó,
Shuí yǔ fā háo měng.
Xì sī nǎi bùrán,
Zhēn qiǎo fēi huàngyǐng.
Yù lìng shī yǔ miào,
Wúyàn kōng qiě jìng.
Jìng gù liǎo qún dòng,
Kōng gù nà wàn jìng.
Yuèshì zǒurén jiān,
Guān shēn wòyún lǐng.
Xiánsuān zá zhòng hǎo,
Zhōng yǒu zhì wèi shuǐ.
Shī fǎ bù xiāng fáng,
Cǐ yǔ gèng dāng qǐng.
 
Translator: Dongbo 東波

Notes:
Su's good friend the monk Can Liao visited him more than once while he was Prefect of Xuzhou, Jiangsu. Han Yu, the Tang statesman who was a staunch Confucian, wrote that monks could not write good poetry because they had withdrawn from life. This is Su's lighthearted response given to Can Liao.

See alternate translation by Ron Egan under the title Seeing Off Can Liao.

 
 
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