Landscape poems, “His Dream Of Skyland” by Li Po
His Dream Of Skyland
The seafarers tell of the Eastern Isle of Bliss,
It is lost in a wilderness of misty sea waves.
But the Sky-land of the south, the Yueh-landers say,
May be seen through cracks of the glimmering cloud.
This land of the sky stretches across the leagues of heaven;
It rises above the Five Mountains and towers over the Scarlet Castle,
While, as if staggering before it, the Tien-tai Peak
Of forty-eight thousand feet leans toward the southeast.
So, longing to dream of the southlands of Wu and Yueh,
I flew across the Mirror Lake one night under the moon.
The moon in the lake followed my flight,
Followed me to the town of Yen-chi.
Here still stands the mansion of Prince Hsieh.
I saw the green waters curl and heard the monkeys’ shrill cries.
I climbed, putting on the clogs of the prince,
Skyward on a ladder of clouds,
And half-way up from the sky-wall I saw the morning sun,
And heard the heaven’s cock crowing in the mid-air.
Now among a thousand precipices my way wound round and round;
Flowers choked the path; I leaned against a rock; I swooned.
Roaring bears and howling dragons roused me –
Oh, the clamorous waters of the rapids!
I trembled in the deep forest, and shuddered at the overhanging crags,
one heaped upon another.
Clouds on clouds gathered above, threatening rain;
The waters gushed below, breaking into mist.
A peal of blasting thunder!
The mountains crumbled.
The stone gate of the hollow heaven
Opened wide, revealing
A vasty realm of azure without bottom,
Sun and moon shining together on gold and silver palaces.
Clad in rainbow and riding on the wind,
The ladies of the air descended like flower, flakes;
The faery lords trooping in, they were thick as hemp-stalks in the fields.
Phoenix birds circled their cars, and panthers played upon harps.
Bewilderment filled me, and terror seized on my heart.
I lifted myself in amazement, and alas!
I woke and found my bed and pillow –
Gone was the radiant world of gossamer.
So with all pleasures of life.
All things pass with the east-flowing water.
I leave you and go – when shall I return?
Let the white roe feed at will among the green crags,
Let me ride and visit the lovely mountains!
How can I stoop obsequiously and serve the mighty ones!
It stifles my soul.
– Li Po. Translated by: Shigeyoshi Obata