Chinese Poetry

Ch’i-chi’s Little Pines

The orphan Ch’i-chi became a monk at an early age and matured during the end of the T’ang era, which was a tumultuous time in China both socially and politically. Ch’i-chi gathered a lot of recognition during his life for his poetry and writing. ‘Little Pines’ is a meditation on time and the mystery of the ‘holiness’ coiled up in the process of regeneration. We can ask ourselves, a thousand years in the future, reading from the moment he projected into, what are the poems we fashion on their ancient dragon shapes?


Little Pines

Poking up from the ground barely above my knees
already there’s holiness in their coiled roots.
Though harsh frost has whitened the hundred grasses,
deep in the courtyard, one grove of green!
In the late night long-legged spiders stir;
crickets are calling from the empty stairs.
A thousand years from now who will stroll among these trees,
fashioning poems on their ancient dragon shapes?


Ch’i-chi (864-937); Translated by Burton Watson
From – The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poets Monks of China

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