The Poetry of Han-shan

A Complete, Annotated Translation of Cold Mountain

By Robert G. Henricks

Subjects: Buddhism
Series: SUNY series in Buddhist Studies
Paperback : 9780887069789, 486 pages, March 1990
Hardcover : 9780887069772, 486 pages, March 1990

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Table of contents


Problems of Dating and Authorship
On the Life of Han-shan
The Poetry of Han-shan
Translator's Note

Preface to the Ch'uan T'ang Shih Edition of Han-Shan's Poems
Poems No. 1-No. 311

I. The Dates of Han-shan: The Internal Evidence
II. Previous English Translations
III. An Index to Themes
IV. Buddhist Terms, Metaphors, and Stories




This is an annotated English translation of the poetry of Han-shan (Cold Mountain), a 7th or 8th century Chinese Buddhist recluse who wrote many poems about his life alone in the hills. Many of his poems describe the mountains where he lived in dramatic, yet appealing terms, while at the same time symbolizing in Zen fashion the Buddhist quest for enlightenment. Han-shan became a cult figure in the Ch'an/Zen tradition, and legends portray him and his companion Shih-te as eccentrics who said and did nonsensical things. Han-shan does often write on unusual topics with some of his "poems" being clever insights that just happen to be metric and rhymed. His language is simple and direct; his images and symbols fresh and bold. While the literary value of his work has for the most part been overlooked, this book provides line-by-line literary analysis of some of the more artistically interesting poems. Henricks' work represents, therefore, a major contribution to the study of Chinese literature and Chinese religion.

Robert G. Henricks is Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College.