Reading Kazuaki Tanahashi & Peter Levitt’s new translation of The Complete Poems of Cold Mountain while also being subjected to news of the Supreme Court nomination hearings of Brett Kavanaugh is a telling study in contrasts. One is pointless, the other enduring. One is noise, the other sound.
Where would you be if you didn’t listen to or read a word of this tribal news from Washington, this much ado about nothing? On your way up Cold Mountain, that’s what.
As the first poem demonstrates, “the way” is not so much a path as a state of mind—one that is pure and protected from the clanging cymbals we call power and greed and hate.
Cold Mountain, Poem #1
by the Hermit Hanshan
You ask the way to Cold Mountain,
but the road does not go through.
In summer, the ice is not yet melted,
the morning sun remains hidden in mist.
How can you get here, like I did?
Our minds are not the same.
When your mind becomes like mine,
you will get here, too.
Deep breath in, slowly out….