Saturday, November 20, 2010

Notable hermits: Hanshan

The first in an occasional series highlighting notable nature hermits...

From Wikipedia: "Hanshan is said to have lived in a cave named 'Hanyan' (寒岩, Cold Cliff), a day's travel from the founding home of the Tiantai Buddhist sect, Guoqing Temple; itself located within the Taishan Mountain range on China's southeast coast."

Cold mountain. Hanshan's cave is in the lower right.

Hanshan lived in the 9th century (the 800's) and wandered around on Cold Mountain appreciating nature and writing poems about it. He had two friends (Fenggan and Shide, also poets) who lived in the temple, a day's walk away. The beat poet Gary Snyder was a fan and translator of Hanshan's poems.

Here is his Poem # 126:
The layered bloom of hills and streams
Kingfisher shades beneath rose-colored clouds
mountain mists soak my cotton bandanna,
dew penetrates my palm-bark coat.
On my feet are traveling shoes,
my hand holds an old vine staff.
Again I gaze beyond the dusty world-
what more could I want in that land of dreams?
He wrote about 600 poems up on Cold Mountain. His cave looked like this:

The view from the inside of Hanshan's cave.

Here is poem # 26:
Since I came to Cold Mountain
how many thousand years have passed?
Accepting my fate I fled to the woods,
to dwell and gaze in freedom.
No one visits the cliffs
forever hidden by clouds.
Soft grass serves as a mattress,
my quilt is the dark blue sky.
A boulder makes a fine pillow;
Heaven and Earth can crumble and change.

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