photo: john f hill
ON CLIMBING THE PAGODA OF THE TEMPLE OF GRACIOUS
BENEVOLENCE WITH KAO SHIH AND HSUEH CHU
The might of this pagoda seems to erupt upwards,
Rising alone until it brushes the halls of Heaven.
To climb it and to look down is to leave the world behind;
Its stone stairway winds around in the void.
Majestic and imposing, towering over this sacred land
So immense and lofty as to seem the work of gods.
Four corners block the bright sun;
Seven stories rub against the sky.
We gaze down to point at the soaring birds,
We bend to hear the fearsome wind rumble below.
Ranges upon ranges are like ocean waves
Surging onward as though courtiers hastening eastward to attendance.
Dark green locusts line the broad post roads;
How lovely and bright the palaces and mansions there!
The beauty of autumn comes in from the west,
A wan aura filling the basin within the pass.
The five royal tombs of Han stand on the plain to the north,
Dim and misty green for a thousand ages.
At last I feel enlightened to the pure doctrine,
Though I have long revered the superior truth.
I am resolved to resign my official post,
Knowing this Way of enlightenment to be of eternal worth.
tr by Daniel Bryant