Poems of Cold Mountain/ Han Shan

Poems of Cold Mountain/ Han Shan

Postby Aemilius » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:31 am

I have read two times the new Red Pine translation of the Poems of Cold Mountain or Han Shan. The book has poems in chinese on the facing page of the translation. Usually they are five characters per line and eight lines, occasionally ten lines, poems. There are also a couple of seven characters per line poems, and a few three characters per line poems.
The poems of Cold Mountain have been translated into english several times. The person of Cold Mountain that emerges from the poems is influental, ascetic, learned and eccentric in the eyes of common people. He lived for 120 years, and some poems reflect interest in and practice of Taoism.
The Cold Mountain where he stayed is close to a Tientai monastery, "close" means here about 30 kilometers of rough roads and paths. Red Pine has made a pilgrimage to his cave.
At some period in his life Cold Mountain spent time and probably did retreats in the mentioned Tientai monastery. If you live for 120 years, 30 years is only one quarter of your life!
The poems themselves seem at times contradictory. Maybe they reflect different phases in the very long life of Cold Mountain? Or different aspects of life in general.
The background information to the poems provided by Red Pine is very helpful.
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Re: Poems of Cold Mountain/ Han Shan

Postby Matylda » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:53 pm

Aemilius wrote:I have read two times the new Red Pine translation of the Poems of Cold Mountain or Han Shan. The book has poems in chinese on the facing page of the translation. Usually they are five characters per line and eight lines, occasionally ten lines, poems. There are also a couple of seven characters per line poems, and a few three characters per line poems.
The poems of Cold Mountain have been translated into english several times. The person of Cold Mountain that emerges from the poems is influental, ascetic, learned and eccentric in the eyes of common people. He lived for 120 years, and some poems reflect interest in and practice of Taoism.
The Cold Mountain where he stayed is close to a Tientai monastery, "close" means here about 30 kilometers of rough roads and paths. Red Pine has made a pilgrimage to his cave.
At some period in his life Cold Mountain spent time and probably did retreats in the mentioned Tientai monastery. If you live for 120 years, 30 years is only one quarter of your life!
The poems themselves seem at times contradictory. Maybe they reflect different phases in the very long life of Cold Mountain? Or different aspects of life in general.
The background information to the poems provided by Red Pine is very helpful.


Actaully in China there is his monastery, called Kanzanji.. it should be in Chinese Hanshan ssu??? I have no idea sine I read almost everything in Chinese but iin Japanese way... so the monastery was his were he was abbot I guess and they have all sorts of his writtings and one may buy there many of his works... So Jittoku was the one who visited him over there quite often... I talked to Chinese monks and coud visit monks quarters and sit in their zendo/sodo.. place is famous and very well kept with many visitors each day. It is I guess in souchou - a water capitol.. sorry I am not well versed in Chinese geography.. anyway not far from Shanghai, somewhere close to the West Lake... I hope it is correct description. It was some years ago when I went there..
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Re: Poems of Cold Mountain/ Han Shan

Postby Aemilius » Sat May 03, 2014 8:54 am

Matylda wrote:
Aemilius wrote:I have read two times the new Red Pine translation of the Poems of Cold Mountain or Han Shan. The book has poems in chinese on the facing page of the translation. Usually they are five characters per line and eight lines, occasionally ten lines, poems. There are also a couple of seven characters per line poems, and a few three characters per line poems.
The poems of Cold Mountain have been translated into english several times. The person of Cold Mountain that emerges from the poems is influental, ascetic, learned and eccentric in the eyes of common people. He lived for 120 years, and some poems reflect interest in and practice of Taoism.
The Cold Mountain where he stayed is close to a Tientai monastery, "close" means here about 30 kilometers of rough roads and paths. Red Pine has made a pilgrimage to his cave.
At some period in his life Cold Mountain spent time and probably did retreats in the mentioned Tientai monastery. If you live for 120 years, 30 years is only one quarter of your life!
The poems themselves seem at times contradictory. Maybe they reflect different phases in the very long life of Cold Mountain? Or different aspects of life in general.
The background information to the poems provided by Red Pine is very helpful.


Actaully in China there is his monastery, called Kanzanji.. it should be in Chinese Hanshan ssu??? I have no idea sine I read almost everything in Chinese but iin Japanese way... so the monastery was his were he was abbot I guess and they have all sorts of his writtings and one may buy there many of his works... So Jittoku was the one who visited him over there quite often... I talked to Chinese monks and coud visit monks quarters and sit in their zendo/sodo.. place is famous and very well kept with many visitors each day. It is I guess in souchou - a water capitol.. sorry I am not well versed in Chinese geography.. anyway not far from Shanghai, somewhere close to the West Lake... I hope it is correct description. It was some years ago when I went there..


There is a description of the journey to Cold Mountain's/Han Shan's cave in Red Pine's book and a photograph of that cave. The poems of Cold Mountain often tell about a very lonely life.
The hermit of Cold Mountain is mentioned in the Blue Cliff Record story 34. Cold Mountain lived in the 9th century.
Red Pine: Collected Songs of Cold Mountain, Copper Canyon Press 2000

There is an other Han Shan who lived later, in the 1500's and 1600's. He is also famous. His name has a different meaning although it sounds the same. The biography of this other Han Shan has been translated into english by Charles Luk, (and by some other person later). The later Han Shan is a quite different person. There is some confusion because of this fact (of two persons with the same name).
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Re: Poems of Cold Mountain/ Han Shan

Postby Qianxi » Sat May 03, 2014 11:34 am

The Hanshan Temple in Suzhou 寒山寺 that Matylda is talking about is indeed named after the Tang Dynasty poet Hanshan 寒山 'Cold Mountain' (supposedly lived approx. 691-821) whose poems Red Pine translated.

The Ming Dynasty Hanshan Deqing 憨山德清 who Charles Luk did some work on lived 1546-1623.

The Han mountain (='Cold Mountain') after which the Tang dynasty poet is named would not have been freezing cold (maybe just damp and chilly in winter), because it's in Southern China, Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai in the vicinity of Tiantai mountain.

The Han mountain after which the Ming dynasty monk was named means 'thick mountain' in both senses - stupid and sturdy. This mountain would have got freezing cold, it's in north China in the vicinity of Wutai mountain (not too far from Beijing, if you are looking at a small map of the whole of China).
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