Sitting Alone on an Autumn Night
Sitting alone, I grieve over my hair white;
In empty room it approaches midnight.
With the rain I hear in the mountain fruit fall;
By lamplight the insects chirp in my hall.
I cannot blacken my white hair while old,
Nor can I turn a metal into gold.
If you want to get rid of ills of old age,
You can only learn from the Buddhist sage.
The poet thinks it best to learn from the Buddhist sage.
The poem “Sitting Alone on an Autumn Night” is a poem in five lines composed by Wang Wei, a poet of the Tang Dynasty. The first couplet of the poem describes the poet’s deep thoughtfulness and sadness and the mood of the poem: the poet sits alone in an empty hall and ponders hard on a rainy night in autumn, when no one is around. The first couplet follows the first one, and uses the technique of “real and imaginary” to depict the bleakness of the setting. The second two lines are about enlightenment and the study of Buddhism: everything is born and must perish, and only nature is eternal, while man and everything else is transient. The poem is easy to understand, simple and concise, and illustrates the process of the poet’s enlightenment, or Zen enlightenment. The poet’s desire to convert to Buddhism is expressed in the poem, which shows the poet’s determination to practice Buddhism and leave the sea of suffering on earth forever.