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  • By David B. Gosselin

Chinese Mountain Man VIII: The Night Sky

Scholar by a Waterfall - Ma Yuan
Ma Yuan - Scholar viewing a waterfall late (12th–early 13th century)

Trekking among the steep defiles,

Trailed by the sage, a young boy tried

To use the dim-lit stars in hopes

Of finding some path or some guide

To help him climb the rocky slopes.

They made their way among the fog

Which stalked them now for many nights,

And left them wandering like ghosts

Amid the unfamiliar heights—

Without a guide, or friendly hosts.

The sage was slow and patient in his steps,

And seldom raised his gaze to watch

The stars or trace the yellow moon.

Hidden beneath his hood, lonesome,

The boy asked, “Will we be there soon?”

Who knows how long those travelers

Had wandered through that craggy world;

How many caves and grots and chasms

Crossed as the haunting shadows whirled—

How many unearthly phantasms?

“Let’s keep the pace” the master said

While looking down and walking straight

Ahead, without making a sound.

The ancient master kept his pace,

The eager pupil soon slowed down.

He stopped and looked toward the sky,

Hoping to find some lucky star.

Walking amid the starry chorus,

The cowled sage paused, removed his hood,

He gazed, “Sometimes the stars find us.”

David Gosselin is a poet, translator, and linguist based in Montreal. He is the founder of The Chained Muse poetry website and the founder of the New Lyre Podcast. His first collection of poems is entitled Modern Dreams.

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