Aug 06 2021

Shih Shu – mountain sounds carry a chill wisdom

Published by at 8:47 am under Poetry

mountain sounds carry a chill wisdom
by Shih Shu

English version by James H. Sanford

mountain sounds carry a chill wisdom
an upwelling spring whispers subtle tales
pine breezes stir the fire beneath my tea
bamboo shadows soak deep into my robe

I grind my ink: clouds scraping across the crags
copy out a verse: birds settling on branches
as the world rolls right on by
its every turn tracing out non-action

— from The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China, Edited by Red Pine


/ Image by Maksym Harbar /

A serene moment today. This poem, to me, evokes a chill mountain solitude, a bit lonely, yet tranquil. You want to wrap a blanket around your shoulders, hold a hot cup of tea in your hands, and watch the world unfold around you.

The soughing sounds of the mountain speak to us–

mountain sounds carry a chill wisdom
an upwelling spring whispers subtle tales

The outside world reaches inside our circle–

pine breezes stir the fire beneath my tea
bamboo shadows soak deep into my robe

In return, our meditative work mimics the world we witness–

I grind my ink: clouds scraping across the crags
copy out a verse: birds settling on branches

And we disappear into the world, seeing how nature moves and shifts and yet remains entirely still–

as the world rolls right on by
its every turn tracing out non-action


Recommended Books: Shih Shu

A Drifting Boat: Chinese Zen Poetry Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China


Shih Shu

China (1660? – 1740?) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

“Shih-shu” is a term that can be translated as “rock and bark poetry” — nature poetry that often poked fun at the bustle of city life and city mind. Rather than brushed onto fine paper, shih-shu poems were scratched into pieces of bark, bamboo, or rocks.

In the early 1700s, one poet took the widely used term as a nom de plume, making it difficult to know much about the author… other than through the poems themselves.

More poetry by Shih Shu

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Shih Shu – mountain sounds carry a chill wisdom”

  1. Najim Mostamandon 06 Aug 2021 at 9:56 am

    Thank you, Ivan.

    I loved your commentary on this poem, especially the part of the inner world mimicking the outer world. At first blush, the poem did not come alive, but after reading your commentary, I have a better appreciation of its beauty.

    Wishing you endless peace.

  2. Anna M.on 06 Aug 2021 at 11:22 am

    Dear Ivan,

    I was trying to send a comment,
    but it just dissipated in infinity…:)

    Never mind, it was happened before too…
    haven’t any idea what is happened:)

    Just wanted to thanks with appreciation and gratitude
    for the sound of the serene moment…

    Anna

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