Han Shan, whose name is taken from his residence on Cold Mountain, was one of the great Chinese poets of the Tang dynasty who perfectly embodied the marriage of Buddhist and Toaist ideals during that era.
This documentary features a number of his most noted American translators, some of whom are on a pilgrimage to the Cold Mountain itself, while others are still in the States.
They include some of the finest poets and translators of their generation including Red Pine, Gary Snyder, Burton Watson and Jim Lenfestey.
The film was made by Mike Hazard, who has also made films about various other poets, and the film is something of a visual poem itself, interweaving and cross cutting from one speaker to another, and quoting from many of the poems, both in the original and in translation. Here is an example, from Red Pine’s translation:
The layered bloom of hills and streams
Kingfisher shades beneath rose-colored clouds
mountain mists soak my cotton bandanna,
dew penetrates my palm-bark coat.
On my feet are traveling shoes,
my hand holds an old vine staff.
Again I gaze beyond the dusty world-
what more could I want in that land of dreams?
Twenty-seven poems translated by A. S. Kline can be read