The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse

by Bob Schwartz


From The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse (Shihwu) (1272-1352), translated by Red Pine:

Here in the woods I have lots of free time. When I don’t spend it sleeping, I enjoy composing poems. But with paper and ink so scarce, I haven’t thought about writing them down. Now some Zen monks have asked me to record what I find of interest on this mountain. I have sat here quietly and let my brush fly. Suddenly this volume is full. I close it and send it back down with the admonition not to try singing these poems. Only if you sit on them will they do you any good.


A thatch hut in blue mountains beside a green stream
after so many years visits are now up to me
a few peach and plum trees blooming red and white
a green and yellow field of vegetables and wheat
all night I sit in bed listening to rain
when it clears I open the window and doze off watching clouds
nothing in life is better than being free
but getting free isn’t luck