Jul 17 2013

Yuan Mei – Nearing Hao-pa

Published by at 8:47 am under Poetry

Nearing Hao-pa
by Yuan Mei

English version by J. P. Seaton

(I saw in the mist a little village of a few tiled roofs and joyfully admired it.)

There’s a stream, and there’s bamboo,
there’s mulberry and hemp.
Mist-hid, clouded hamlet,
a mild, tranquil place.
Just a few tilled acres.
Just a few tiled roofs.
How many lives would I
have to live, to get
that simple.

— from A Drifting Boat: Chinese Zen Poetry, Edited by J. P. Seaton / Edited by Dennis Maloney

/ Photo by flo and me /

Should I say anything about this poem? A quiet village, hidden in the mountains among the mists. A few huts and tilled fields. Not much happening. Time itself pads quietly through this place.

A place nearly beneath notice. Or perhaps it is Nirvana itself.

How many lives would I
have to live, to get
that simple.

Yuan Mei, Yuan Mei poetry, Buddhist poetry Yuan Mei

China (1716 – 1798) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

Yuan Mei was born in Hangchow, Chekiang during the Qing dynasty. As a boy, he was a talented student who earned his basic degree at the age of eleven. He received the highest academic degree at 23 and then went on to advanced studies. But Yuan Mei failed in his studies of the Manchu language, which limited his future government career.

Like many of the great Chinese poets, Yuan Mei exhibited many talents, working as a government official, teacher, writer, and painter.

He eventually left public office and retired with his family to a private estate named “The Garden of Contentment.” In addition to teaching, he made a generous living writing funerary inscriptions. Among other things, he also collected local ghost stories and published them. And he was an advocate of women’s education.

He traveled quite a bit and soon gained the reputation as the pre-eminent poet of his time. His poetry is deeply engaged with Chan (Zen) and Taoist themes of presence, meditation, and the natural world. As biographer Arthur Whaley notes, Yuan Mei’s poetry “even at its lightest always had an undertone of deep feeling and at its saddest may at any moment light a sudden spark of fun.”

More poetry by Yuan Mei

One response so far

One Response to “Yuan Mei – Nearing Hao-pa”

  1. ebrahimon 17 Jul 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Today I witnessed how Love can withstand time and how when two souls embark on a journey of complete syncronicity that it defines the value of life and the value of Life after death, To be so completely embelished by the presence of your better half and have them with you from your youth, growing together, Raising a family, understanding wholeheartedly whO and why you are with the person who completes you and accepting everything as it happens, that even when you grow old together and if one of you can’t hear so well, and the other has a memory of a goldfish, so won’t remember what you said! , the very presence , the silence , the Love between two souls are so emersed that even Death can’t bear to part them from each other …… This Loss has opened my eyes to a more insightful much Deeper meaning of life .. And what it takes to truelly Love someone and Be Loved by someone To truelly Be One ….

    Written in our family chat by a young girl after the death in the last two consequtibve weekends of an elderly couple, first the wife than the husband.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply