Monday, March 5, 2012


In My Leisure

I like to be alone,
living my life on a blue mountain.
Though the years have bleached my sideburns
all I have is a monk's robe.

I transplant pine seedlings in the rain
and close bamboo doors, shrouded clouds.
Mountain flowers are better than embroidered curtains.
The pine trees in the yard replace silk cloths.

Sitting before the silent, burning incense
I watch the moss thicken on the stone bridge.
Don't ask me why.
I've been out of step with the world since my youth.

A Hermit's Life

Living in seclusion far from the dizzying world,
I loll in the beautiful mountains without a care.
Spring is calmer in the pine grove.
The bamboo gate is closed even in daylight.

Waking From A Nap

The autumn branches are bare, the sunlight weak,
the mountain lonely, the frost flowers clear.
I close the door and drift into a dream
until the squawk of a magpie startles me awake.

Watching the Rain at Hoeduk Inn

The desolate inn is like the cottage in the old town—
no noise, hardly anyone around.
After a nap on the western veranda, on a long spring day,
I rise and watch the light rain tap the pear leaves.


The money ghost lives in the hands of many men:
wherever it goes, spring comes to their faces.
The monk in the mountains is so far from the world
that he freezes people with his words.

Leisurely Enjoyment

I see the mountain every day, but I'm never satisfied.
I often hear the water, but I'm never full.
My eyes and ears clear by themselves
and leisure matures in the sound and hue.

Instructing Fellow Buddhists after Picking Brackens

We took our baskets to the blue mountain at dawn,
leisurely picked wild greens, and came home.
Would you like to know the importance of what we did?
Only white clouds return with the night birds.

A Casual Line

Rinsed by the rain, the front garden is clean,
and the corridor in which the wind passes is cool as autumn.
The mountain green, sound of water, pines dancing in the wind—
what could disturb my mind?

Wonkam Chungji (1226~1292)

from Because of the Rain, Korean Zen Poems
compiled by Daljin Kim
translated into English by
Won-Chung Kim & Christopher Merrill
(White Pine Press)

photo © bob arnold