Thursday, April 20, 2017

Han Shan: solitude

One reason why I admire Han Shan (Cold Mountain) is his humanity.  He comes across as very human, and this is one that reveals him as being human, and not some mystic saint.

Sitting alone I keep slipping away
far off with the cares of my heart
clouds wander by the mountainside
wind rushes out the valley
gibbons swing from the trees
birds call through the forest
time slips past my temples
yearend finds me old with regrets

-- Han Shan (Cold Mountain) --
The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain
Red Pine: trans and ed.


  1. How sad the last line is. And, as you say, Fred, human. I like it.

    1. madamevauquer,

      It was a real shocker for me. I thought it was going to be another of his paeans to living in nature, and then that last line. It turned everything around for me, but I shouldn't have been that surprised.

      That's what good poetry is supposed to do--suddenly make the reader pay attention.

    2. This is the first that I've read by Han Shan, so I had no expectations. (I think I've read it about six times now.)

    3. madamevauquer,

      He's been a favorite of mine for many years now. I've posted on several of his poems in the past.

    4. Thanks for mentioning it, Fred. I see now - didn't think to check your list before.

    5. madamevauquer,

      I hope you find them as interesting as this one.

  2. My reaction: melancholia and aging can be overwhelming, and sometimes solitude (loneliness) exacerbates melancholia; yes, the poem is quite depressing to this old man.

    1. Tim,

      Sorry to hear about that. The last line hit me like a bucket of cold water. But, then, I realized that this is part of being human.

  3. Replies
    1. Mudpuddle,

      I'm glad you liked it.