Farewell to a Lofty Monk
Liu Changqing (709-785)
A lofty cloud has met a common crane,
But how to live together in this land?
Don’t stay out here, though filled with fertile hills,
So many know this place, like grains of sand.
Sòng Shàng Rén
Gū yún jiāng yě hè
Qǐ xiàng rén jiān zhù
Mò mǎi wò zhōu shān
Shí rén yǐ zhī chǔ
Transliteration and Notes
Send-Off Higher Person
Lone cloud together-with field crane
How toward human interval dwell?
Don’t buy Fertile Island Mountain
Era’s people already know place
“Lone cloud” here symbolizes the wandering monk and contrasts with the common field crane, representing the poet. “Human interval” means the human world. “Fertile Island Mountain” is Wozhou Mountain, located in Zhejiang Province, a famous location during the Jin Dynasty used to breed cranes and horses and thought by Daoists to be a blessed land. “Era’s people” refers to people of the time.
This poem contrasts the lofty monk with the vulgar world below, symbolized by the field crane. The last two lines are a lighthearted way of saying that the monk shouldn’t stay in Wuzhou Mountain because everyone knows the place and therefore it’s vulgar; instead, he should stay above it all and wander as a cloud.