River Snow

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River Snow
        Liu Zongyuan 773-819 

A thousand mountains without a bird.
Ten thousand miles with no trace of man.
A boat. An old man in a straw raincoat,
Alone in the snow, fishing in the freezing river.
Liǔ Zōngyuán 773-819

Qiān shān niǎo fēi jué,
Wàn jìng rén zōng miè.
Gū zhōu suō lì wēng,
Dú diào hán jiāng xuě.
Translator: Kenneth Rexroth 1905-1982

"By the time you start reading, it’s already over, which only makes you ponder its meaning all the more." Eileen Chang in her essay 'On Carrots'.

Location unknown, perhaps XiaoXiang Rivers area in southern Hunan where Liu was exiled on the first of his two exiles. See other translations of this deceptively simple poem by Gary Snyder, Dongbo, David Hinton, and others.

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