Having Climbed to the Topmost Peak of the Incense-burner Mountain
Up and up, the Incense-burner Peak!
In my heart is stored what my eyes and ears perceived.
All the year - detained by official business;
Today at last I got a chance to go.
Grasping the creepers, I clung to dangerous rocks;
My hands and feet - weary with groping for hold.
There came with me three or four friends,
But two friends dared not go further.
At last we reached the topmost crest of the Peak;
My eyes were blinded, my soul rocked and reeled.
The chasm beneath me - ten thousand feet;
The ground I stood on, only a foot wide.
If you have not exhausted the scope of seeing and hearing,
How can you realise the wideness of the world?
The waters of the River looked narrow as a ribbon,
P'ên Castle smaller than a man's fist.
How it clings, the dust of the world's halter!
It chokes my limbs; I cannot shake it away.
Thinking of retirement, I heaved an envious sigh;
Then, with lowered head, came back to the Ants' Nest.
Words by Po Chü-I (772-846)
Translated by Arthur Waley