Visiting the Taoist Priest Dai Tianshan, but Not Finding Him

(after Li Po)


I heard his dog barking down by the creek, but when I tried to follow
A hard rain fell, scattering the peach blossoms, hiding the path.

I’ve long since lost the dog, the creek, the path; I can’t hear the temple bell,
And one stand of bamboo is like any other.
I think it’s spring now, or will be soon: it’s greener, anyhow,
And sometimes I see deer, off in the woods.

No one else can tell you the right way to go, that’s what he always said;
Meaning, I thought: Trust yourself. See where that’s got me?



Under the hood:


This is inspired by a poem of the same title by the Chinese poet Li Po ( (705 – 762). (He is also called Li Bai, and other names too, but I prefer the name I first knew him by.) Here is the poem:

A transliteration, courtesy of

Dog bark water sound in
Peach blossom bring rain thick
Tree deep occasionally see deer
Stream noon not hear bell
Wild bamboo divide green mist
Fly spring hang green peak
Lack person know place go
Sad lean two three pines

Obviously, mine is not a translation, since I took (let’s call them) liberties with his poem — so I suppose “After Li Po” will have to do. Anyway, thanks, Li Po!

Image: Bamboo Leaves by Dan Zen, published under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

3 thoughts on “Visiting the Taoist Priest Dai Tianshan, but Not Finding Him

  1. Pingback: I gazed into my wine cup | Bag of Anything

  2. I like your translation of the first two lines especially – may even be what was meant! (Chinese poets are so elliptic in their meaning.) I am trying to come up with a closer translation but so far I can’t approach your interpretation.

    Liked by 1 person

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