First Known When Lost: Rocks And Stones

In Chinese poetry, one often hears of recluses living in the mountains amidst the rocks and stones and trees and mists and white clouds. They might be Buddhist monks or Taoist adepts or woodcutters. Chinese poets would go in search of them in order to obtain wisdom, but would usually come back without having found them.  They would then write a poem about their journey.

However, a few of the recluses were themselves poets.  They are more circumspect than Coleridge and Wordsworth when it comes to the place of rocks and stones in the larger scheme of things.  They are not fond of abstractions and explanations.  They point things out.

In Reply to Questions

I happened to come to the foot of a pine tree,
lay down and slept soundly on pillows of stone.
There are no calendars here in the mountain;
the cold passes but I don’t know what year it is.

The Recluse T’ai-Shang (T’ang Dynasty; dates of birth and death unknown) (translated by Burton Watson), in Burton Watson, The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the Thirteenth Century (Columbia University Press 1984), page 294.

Source: First Known When Lost: Rocks And Stones

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