Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Have I a body or have I none?"

Have I a body or have I none?
Am I who I am or am I not?
Pondering these questions,
I sit leaning against the cliff as the years go by,
Till the green grass grows between my feet
And the red dust settles on my head,
And the men of the world, thinking me dead,
Come with offerings of wine and fruit to lay by my corpse.

Han Shan (Cold Mountain), 9th century. Trans. by Burton Watson, text via China Page

Jacob the Hermit Kneeling at a Sarcophagus, Daniel de Vos (1568-1605)
**Can anybody translate the Latin for me?


Bozo said...

Anne will translate the Latin if she can find it in a larger typeface. She's looking. Back later.

BitterGrace said...

Bozo, if you just click on the image here, it will enlarge in new window. Should be large enough to see then.

Anne said...

"Let him not snatch his right hand from the flame and yet be burned by the fire with his left, so that the girl who was touched by your hand may proclaim it, James. You who conquered as a youth, the woman has conquered as an old man. You sin in the marriage bed, you pay for it in the grave."

It's not real clear. Anybody else have an idea?

BitterGrace said...

Interesting. I think this is supposed to be a depiction of Jacob of Nisibis, also called James. He was an ascetic, a woodland hermit. I don't know about his sins in the marriage bed!

chayaruchama said...


I both love it, and fear it.