Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hanshan and Shih-te (Sengai Gibon), Sonnet #377

Giggling Shih-te and the scribbler Hanshan
Scrub the scree and pebbles on Cold Mountain.
Shih-te moves them aside with his light broom,
Then brushes them back again to make room
For the emptiness between each small stone.
Dust rises like ghosts, silent and alone.
He laughs, delighted at the nothing he has done.
Hanshan washes each gem, rock, and boulder
With a brush dripping with sticky black ink.
If he can, he will make the mountain think
Thoughts not the oldest, but even older.
The work drives needles into his shoulder.
He calls to Shih-te, tells him of his pain.
Needles broomed, all is soon washed clean by rain.