The Ten Oxherding Poems / Pictures

The Ten Oxherding Poems / Pictures

The Ten Oxherding Poems / Pictures



1. Searching for the Ox Brushing aside thick grasses I pursue him,  In wide rivers, distant mountains, and paths without end.  Exhausted, unable to find him anywhere,  I only hear evening cicadas in the maple trees. 


2. Discovering the Footprints  Scores of footprints in the forests and by the streams,  Do you see them scattered amid the fragrant grass?  Even deep in the remote mountains,  How can he conceal his enormous snout?


3. Sighting the Ox  A golden oriole trills on the branch,  The sun is warm, the wind mild, and the lakeside willow green.  Now there is nowhere for the ox to escape!  Yet what artist can paint his majestic head and horns?


4. Catching the Ox  With extraordinary effort I catch the ox,  Strong of body and spirit, he is not easily subdued.  At times, he scales the lofty plains,  Then hides deep within the cloud-like mist.


5. Taming the Ox  I must never let go of the whip and rein,  Lest he strides down the dusty trail.  Having been well trained, the ox is docile;  He freely follows the master without the leash.


6. Riding the Ox Home  Mounting the ox I meander home;  The sound of my flute rides with the evening clouds.  Each beat and tune holds meaning profound;  No need for words if you understand this song. 


7. The Ox Transcended  Astride the ox I reach my native hill,  The ox has vanished, and I am free.  I dream until the sun is high;  The rein and whip lie idle in the barn. 


8. Both Ox and Self Transcended  Whip, rein, person, and ox merge into emptiness,  No words can reach across this vast blue sky.  How can snow accrue on a burning stove?  Here finally, I walk with the Patriarchs.


9. Returning to the Source  Returning to one’s root has taken much effort,  Better to have acted blind and deaf from the start! Dwelling in my hut, I see nothing without,  Rivers flow, flowers are red.


10. Entering the World  Barefoot and bare-chested, I mingle with the world; Though covered with dirt, I beam with joy.  Without the need for secret miraculous powers,  I make flowers bloom from withered wood.

Translated by Chung Tai Translation Committee, 2007, 2010