Monday, July 27, 2009

deer fence

isaac levitan the watermill at sunset 1880.


there are so many magical sounds. lying inside a tent listening to the sound of rain. the wind whistling through a little opening. leaves rustling in a summer breeze on a hot day. i have a long list . . . .

walking through the nearby woodlot i hear voices - children riding bikes, climbing trees, building forts, playing chase games. what i love is that i can’t see the source of the voices - just the voices, muffled in the leaves and undergrowth. so, even though i know i’m sharing the woods with countless other people, i still feel alone. sharing a space.

wang wei captures this experience in his beautiful poem “deer fence”.

deer fence

in the empty mountains

i see no one,

but hear the sound

of someone's voice.
slanting sunlight

enters deep forest,

and shines again

on green moss.

wang wei
 trans. greg whincup


  1. How important are our senses. Thanks for highlighting how precious sounds are - even in our solitude. Sounds like fragrance can immediately transport us to another time and place. And if we don't hear sounds in the present - we imagine them - as I imagine the sound of your voice reciting the poem.

  2. hi bonnie, the deep mapping of sensory information is truly amazing. i can smell certain perfumes, hear certain sounds, see a certain picture and an entire experience opens out.
    to me that's magic!
    when i first saw this poem i did say it out loud. it's so sensory, it's good to slow some parts of it down and to let the visuals flood your mind's eye. have a lovely evening. steven

  3. Flow - “the sole pleasure of the world is its evanescence.” - How appropriate. I came here because of your comment on Dave King's wonderful Lascaux post.

    Natural sounds are one of the things that make life worthwhile. My windows are open all the time. Once my wife and I were camping deep inside a national forest. The silence was absolute. When the sun went down we couldn't see our hands in front of our faces. After a while we thought we heard something, then we were sure we could, but we didn't know what it was. We became frightened, then we realized we were hearing the sound of our hearts beating.

  4. hi mark, thanks for dropping by. i agree with your comment about natural sounds. i especially love the sound of rain, birds, thunder, my children, the encyclopedia of my wife's sounds. what a great story of your experience in the forest!!! have a lovely evening. steven