"Questions Answered," "Mountain Drinking Song," "Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain" by Li Po, copyright © 2000 by Sam Hamill. Reprinted from Crossing the Yellow River: Three Hundred Poems from the Chinese, translated and introduced by Sam Hamill.

All titles at bn.com by Sam Hamill

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Feature on Hamill's translations.
Li Po (701-762)


Questions Answered

You ask why I live
alone in the mountain forest,

and I smile and am silent
until even my soul grows quiet.

The peach trees blossom.
The water continues to flow.

I live in the other world,
one that lies beyond the human.


Mountain Drinking Song

To drown the ancient sorrows,
we drank a hundred jugs of wine

there in beautiful moonlight. We couldn’t
go to bed with the moon so bright.

Then finally the wine overcame us
and we lay down on the empty mountain:

earth for a pillow
and a blanket made of heaven.


Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain

The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.