Thirty six thousand days in the life of a lucky man, but a single day that’s spent in a boat has simply an endless span.


Han Shan

I call to my friends, picking lotus,
Wonderfully afloat on the clear river,
And forget, in my delight, how late it grows,
Till gusts of evening wind whirl by.
Waves scoop up the mandarin ducks;
Ripples rock the broad-tailed mallards;
At this moment, sitting in my boat,
Thoughts pour out in endless streams.

Burton Watson



Su Tung-P’o

I hate it! – that even this body’s not mine alone…
someday i’ll give it all up.
the night moves, the breeze writes
quietly in ripples on the water.
a little boat, leaving here and now,
the rest of my life on the river, on the sea.



Yuan Mei

A whole life without speaking,
“a thunderous silence”
that was Wei-ma’s Way.
And here is a place where no monk can preach.
I understand now what T’ao Ch’ien, enlightened,
said, he couldn’t say.
It’s so clear, here, this water
my teacher.

J.P. Seaton


Seeing Off Prefect Ji Mu as he Leaves Office and Goes East of the River

Wang Wei

Ten thousand mies of pure autumn sky.
Sunset clarifies the empty river.
What pleasure on a crystal night
to rap on the side of the boat and sing
or share the light with fish and birds,
leisurely stretched out in the rushes.

Tony Barnstone


Ballad of the Voyager

Li Po

Ocean voyager, on heaven’s winds,
in his ship, far wandering…
like a bird, among the clouds,
gone, he will leave no trace.

J.P. Seaton


Passing the Night on the Chien-te River

Meng Hao-jan

My boat moored by misty isle,
sun sets, while a traveler’s grief rises.
Above vast plain: sky lowers among the trees.
In the limpid stream, the moon moves close.

J.P. Seaton