Chinese Poetry

A Lifetime is Empty Like the Void – Wang Wei

Considered one of China’s greatest classical poets, 8th century Wang Wei was also a painter and musician, as well as a courtier and statesman during the Tang Dynasty. His art was deeply influenced by his study of Ch’an, whose philosophy was expressed through the simplicity of the images in both his paintings and his verses. 


A Meal for the Monks

I came late to the dharma,
but each day, deepen my retreat.

Waiting for mountain monks,
I sweep my simple hut. 

Then down from cloudy peaks
you come through knee-deep weeds. 

We kneel on bamboo mats, munching pine nuts.
We burn incense and study the Way. 

Light the lamp at twilight:
a single chime begins the night.

In every solitude, deep joy.
This life abides.

How can you think of returning?
A lifetime is empty like the void.  


Wang Wei (701-761)
From – Crossing the Yellow River: Three Hundred Poems from the Chinese


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