Calming the Breath by Ko Un

by Mark Chmiel

Poised like an aging bear
climbing a tree, hanging on tightly,
I collect my breath.

Poised like a bird
stretching its neck out and pecking at food
I collect my breath.

Heaven and earth are full of breath.
When a dragon chants, a cloud rises.
When a tiger whistles in reply,
it becomes the wind.

While breath moves in and out this way,
the breath grows calm
the breath grows calm.

From the foot of Mount Lunlun onward
I grew miserable with breathing.
Exhale, inhale,
calming the breath.

–Ko Un, Himalaya Poems, translated by Brother Antony and Lee Sang-Wha

昆仑山2
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