High up the starry terraces
Of glittering emerald peaks,
A master and his pupil made
Their way towards the dragon’s grot.
As both the sage and student climbed
The frigid purgatorial steeps,
A tempest lashed the weary twain
With howling gales and scowling rains.
In fear, and longing for respite,
– sweet solace from the storm – the boy
Sought shelter in the dark defiles;
He quickly found a narrow space.
“Let us hide in those recesses,
The elements are stern tonight.”
“Let us make fire and gather round
The warmth, until the storm subsides.”
Though still eager to make the climb,
The master did agree to rest.
They made their way towards a dim
Cavern, which seemed to offer solace.
Alone, and sheltered from the storm,
They lit a fire to warm their limbs.
The humble flames crackled away;
The elements raged on outside.
The master peered across the fire,
Watching his student pondering.
Not a stir could be heard, save for
The crackling of the humble flames.
Hearing nothing, the student raised
His head and met the master’s eyes:
The old master sat silently,
His eyes shining across the flames.
“What a man fears more than the storm,
Is the quiet,” said the master.
He stood up, then both the sage
And pupil walked into the storm.
Read Chinese Mountain Man parts I and II
David is a translator, poet and linguist based in Montreal.