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.