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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

SU TUNG-PO --- HUNDRED PACE RAPIDS

waterfalls creek air bellows



Long rapids drop steeply, waves leap up;

The light boat shoots south like a plunging shuttle.

Waterbirds fly up at the boatman's cry;

The thread of water pushes through tangled rocks.

We're like a rabbit darting from preying hawks,

A fine horse racing down a thousand-foot slope,

A string snapping from a lute, an arrow from a bow,

Lightning glimpsed through a crack, a raindrop
rolling off a lotus leaf.

The four hills swirl around me, wind stops my ears;

I see only the current boiling in a thousand whirlpools.

Enjoying an hour of delight among these cliffs,

I'm like the river god boasting of autumn floods.

I give in to the change that advances day and night;

Sit, and in a moment of thought fly beyond Silla.

Men in drunken dreams wrangle and steal,

Never believing that thorns will bury the bronze camels.

In this reverie I lose a thousand kalpas;

I stare at the water: it moves with unspeakable slowness.

See, there, on the face of the green rock bank---

Holes like hornets' nests where ancient boatmen
braced their poles!

Only make sure the mind never clings!

The Creator may hurry us, but what can we do?

Turn the boat around, mount horse, and go home.

Master Ts'an-liao complains I talk too much!


                                 ---Su Tung-Po (1037-1101)
                                     tr Burton Watson


                         (Silla is the region of an ancient
                          state on the Korean Peninsula.) 



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