The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain

Han Shan (Cold Mountain), Bill Porter (Red Pine), trans.

This definitive translation of Han Shan (Cold Mountain) is presented in a handsome bilingual Chinese-English format. Included alongside this classic work are extensive notes, a preface by renowned translator Red Pine, a findings list, and photographs of the cave and surrounding area where Han Shan lived as one of the most revered poets in China. Han Shan (Cold Mountain) was a Taoist/Buddhist hermit who begged for food at temples, often sang and drank with cowherds, and became an immortal figure in the history of Chinese literature and Zen. His poems were written twelve-hundred years ago on the rocks, trees, and temple walls of China’s Tientai Mountains. This revised edition also includes poems by Han Shan’s colleagues, Pickup (Shih-te) and Big Stick (Feng-kan), translated here for the first time.

ISBN: 9781556591402

Format: Paperback

from “The Poems of Cold Mountain, Song 71”

Someone lives in a mountain gorge
cloud robe and sunset tassels
holding sweet plants he would share
but the road is long and hard
burdened by regrets and doubts
old and unaccomplished
called by others crippled
he stands alone steadfast

About the Author

Han Shan’s name translates as “Cold Mountain.” He was a Taoist/Buddhist hermit who lived twelve hundred years ago in the Tientai Mountains of China. He begged for food at temples, often sang and drank with cowherds, and became an immortal figure in the history of Chinese literature and Zen.

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About the Translator

Bill Porter assumes the pen name Red Pine for his translation work. He was born in Los Angeles in 1943, grew up in the Idaho Panhandle, served a tour of duty in the US Army, graduated from the University of California with a degree in anthropology, and attended graduate school at Columbia University. Uninspired by the prospect of an academic career, he dropped out of Columbia and moved to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. After four years with the monks …

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“The translator’s preface describes his rendition of the life of Cold Mountain, offering an excellent historical and philosophical context for the simple yet profound poems attributed to the poet.” —Library Journal

“Red Pine’s translations of Cold Mountain’s poems are eloquent yet unadorned, without the imposition of distracting and inappropriate English-language punctuation.” —Rapid River

“An exquisite publication that captures the Taoist practice of passionate attention, of being still inside and relaxed in the comforts and discomforts around you, going nowhere else… We discover this in the poet’s vision and spirit, in the precision and balance of the translator’s scholarship and heart, and in the elegant wilderness of the bookmaker’s art around them. On every level this is a beautiful book.” —Judges’ citation, Western States Book Award for Translation, 2000

“A remarkable press in Washington State, Copper Canyon, has released a collection of Cold Mountain’s colloquial poetry… His poems sound like inspired raps—marvelously direct, with skips, jumps, verbal nudges and abrupt revelations… The volume is beautifully produced, with a long and careful introduction… This is an indispensable book.” —Berkeley Monthly

“Red Pine… has given us the first full collection of Han Shan’s songs in an idiom that is clear, graceful, and neutral enough to last… His translations are accurate and mirror the music of the originals… The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain is a considerable performance and a truly valuable book. Thanks to Copper Canyon’s high standards of bookmaking, it is beautiful to hold and behold; thanks to Red Pine’s care, it will survive as the definitive text of Han Shan in English for many years. It belongs on the shelf of everyone with an interest in poetry and… should be opened often.” —Bloomsbury Review

“Sometimes playful, sometimes tinged with seeds of bitterness, Cold Mountain’s 300-plus poems, written during the T’ang dynasty, are presented here in English translation for the very first time.” —Bookslinger Bibliofile

“In Red Pine’s hands, these poems are revitalized.” —Ellipsis

“More than anyone else, Red Pine has made [Han Shan’s] spontaneous poems accessible to Western readers… In this new, expanded edition, invaluable notes and an extensive new critical preface provide a contextual awareness, not just for the poems, but for their sources in Buddhist and Confucian culture.” —Inquiring Mind

“These are poems one must taste fully and drink whole… The poems of Han-shan read like a journal or memoir, and they often work as Zen koans, challenging the mind to go beyond the words and reason.” —Parabola