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Tu Fu Poetry

Bird over Cruz del Condor in Peru

Bird over Cruz del Condor in Peru

Gazing at the Sacred Peak

For all this, what is the mountain god like?
An unending green of lands north and south:
From ethereal beauty Creation distills
There, yin and yang split dusk and dawn.
Swelling clouds sweep by. Returning birds
Ruin my eyes vanishing. One day soon,
At the summit, the other mountains will be
Small enough to hold, all in a single glance.

I notice, as seems to be the case with Chinese poetry, lots of nature imagery and metaphors. The strongest one is “At the summit, the other mountains will be/Small enough to hold, all in a single glance.” I think that this means the speaker will die “one day soon” and be in heaven and practically close enough to hold these immense rock formations in his hands. Earthy things will seem smaller after death. The mountain can represent both life and death because the sun rises and sets as a Creator each day, and “yin and yang split dusk and dawn”. In this same way, a poem can take us to a place of eternal beauty and creation. A poet creates a poem as the sun creates the day.

The above image resonated with me when reading this poem. It actually was taken in Cruz del Condor, Peru, on the top of a mountain where there is omage paid to the Mountain God Apu. The summit is so high that if one reaches out, it seems as if the mountains are within our humanly grasp. Here’s a photo of the Shrine to Apu.

shrine-to-apu-the-mountain-god.jpg

May poems always take you to the top of a mountain to meet the author, in the spirit of Vladimir Nabokov

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