By George Scarbrough 1915–2008 George Scarbrough
Han-Shan sits on a flat stone
In his garden and plays the flute,
Mimicking the birds singing among
The gourd vines or from the top
Of the blue pine tree.

Or he constructs a new trellis
For the rambling rose over his front
Gate or works at the great loom in his porch,
Weaving his own coverlets.

Sometimes, he paints drinking gourds
To hang at his cold spring.

His poems, delicate but strong,
Paper the ceiling above his bed,
So he can lie and read
His own masterpieces.

No man, he avers, can catch
Such fish in one basket.

Source: Poetry (April 2001).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

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April 2001


Born on a farm in eastern Tennessee, poet George Scarbrough was one of seven children of a sharecropping farmer. He was educated at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the University of the South, and Lincoln Memorial University, where he earned a BA. He then earned an MA at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he also completed coursework toward a PhD. He earned an MFA at the University of Iowa Writers’ . . .

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Poems by George Scarbrough

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Music, Landscapes & Pastorals, Poetry & Poets, Nature, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse

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