Po Chu-I (772-846 C. E.) was a Chinese Ch’an (Zen) poet who lived during the Tang Dynasty. He grew up in poverty as a child and went on to serve in government. At age thirty six he was an advisor to the emperor. However, he also enjoyed time alone to write his poems. Po Chu-I’s understanding of Taoism and Ch’an Buddhism is displayed in his poetry. The selected Poems of Po Chu- I contains 183 poems. There is also a short introduction that gives a history of Po Chu-I’s life. The book is organized into early poems 794-815 (C.E.), exile poems 815-820, middle poems 820-829, and late poems 829-846. Outstanding presentation, translation and addition to my library.

Below are three example poems from the book:


Village Snow, Sitting At Night

At the south window, my back to the lamp,
I sit. Wind scatters sleet into darkness.

In lone depths of silent village night:
The call of a late goose in falling snow.



Fresh vegetables for dawn hunger
and fur-lined robes for chill nights:

such luck to elude hunger and cold.
What more could I ever ask? Simple

and hardly sick-this is all I want.
Rejoice in heaven, resent nothing:

How could I explain such resolve?
An I-Ching’s lying beside the bed.



Flower No Flower

Flower no flower
mist no mist

arrives at midnight
and leaves at dawn

arrives like a spring dream-how many times
leaves like a morning cloud-nowhere to find.


The selected Poems of Po Chu-I Translated By David Hinton can be ordered on Amazon.com below:

The Selected Poems of Po Chü-i (New Directions Paperbook)