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Wayfarer
Sunday, January 1st, 2006, 11:57 AM
LAO TZU

‘Thaim that speaks kens naething.
Thaim that kens bydes lown.’
Thir wurds, Ah hear tell,
war spoken bi Lao-tzu.
Gin we ir ti credit that Lao-tzu
wes himsell ane that kent,
hou cums it he wrate a buik
o five thousan wurds?

LAO TZU

‘Those that speak know nothing
Those that know remain silent.’
These words, I believe,
Were spoken by Lao-tzu.
If we believe that Lao tzu
Was himself somebody that knew,
How did he come to write a book
Of five thousand words?



WUNTER NICHT

Ma houss is puir an thaim Ah loue haes left me.
Ma corp is seik --- Ah canna jyne the feast.
The’r no a leevin sowl forenent ma een
as Ah ligg ma lane lock’t in ma cot-houss chaumer.
Ma brukken cruisie burns wi a dwaiblie lowe.
Ma tattert drapes hings squint an dinna meet.
‘Puff’ on the front dure-step an wundae sill,
aye an again Ah hear the new snaw faw.
Day in, day oot, the aulder Ah growe Ah sleep the less.
Ah wauken the midnicht oor an sit up strecht in bed.
Gin Ah haedna lairnt the airt o meditation,
hou coud Ah beir this yondmaist lanesumness?
Steive an sterk ma bodie hauds the yird;
unhinnert nou ma sowl devauls til entropie.
Sae haes it been for fower dreich year:
a thousan an thrie hunder nicht!


WINTER NIGHT

My house is poor an those I love have left me.
My body is sick---I cannot join the feast.
There is not a living soul before my eyes
As I lie alone locked in my cottage chamber.
My broken lamp burns with a feeble glow.
My tattert curtains hang squint and do not meet.
‘Puff’ on the front door step and window sill,
Over and over again I hear the new snow fall.
Day in, day out, the older I grow, I sleep the less.
I awake at the midnight hour and sit up straight in bed.
If I had not learned the art of meditation,
How could I bear this utter loneliness?
Stiff and stark my body holds the ground;
Unhindert now my soul dissolves to entropie.
Thus it has been for fower desolate years:
A thousand and three hundred nights.

In Scots and English

link in pdf format (http://www.electricscotland.com/poetry/purves/Ancient_Chinese_Poems.pdf)