TO LI BAI AT THE SKY SEND
A cold wind blows from the far sky....
What are you thinking of, old friend?
The wildgeese never answer me.
Rivers and lakes are flooded with rain.
...A poet should beware of prosperity,
Yet demons can haunt a wanderer.
Ask an unhappy ghost, throw poems to him
Where he drowned himself in the Milo River.
A FAREWELL AT FENGJI STATION TO GENERAL YAN
This is where your comrade must leave you,
Turning at the foot of these purple mountains....
When shall we lift our cups again, I wonder,
As we did last night and walk in the moon?
The region is murmuring farewell
To one who was honoured through three reigns;
And back I go now to my river-village,
Into the final solitude.
ON LEAVING THE TOMB OF PREMIER FANG
Having to travel back now from this far place,
I dismount beside your lonely tomb.
The ground where I stand is wet with my tears;
The sky is dark with broken clouds....
I who played chess with the great Premier
Am bringing to my lord the dagger he desired.
But I find only petals falling down,
I hear only linnets answering.
A NIGHT ABROAD
A light wind is rippling at the grassy shore....
Through the night, to my motionless tall mast,
The stars lean down from open space,
And the moon comes running up the river.
...If only my art might bring me fame
And free my sick old age from office! --
Flitting, flitting, what am I like
But a sand-snipe in the wide, wide world!
ON THE GATE-TOWER AT YOUZHOU
I had always heard of Lake Dongting --
And now at last I have climbed to this tower.
With Wu country to the east of me and Chu to the south,
I can see heaven and earth endlessly floating.
...But no word has reached me from kin or friends.
I am old and sick and alone with my boat.
North of this wall there are wars and mountains --
And here by the rail how can I help crying?
A MESSAGE FROM MY LODGE AT WANGCHUAN
TO PEI DI
The mountains are cold and blue now
And the autumn waters have run all day.
By my thatch door, leaning on my staff,
I listen to cicadas in the evening wind.
Sunset lingers at the ferry,
Supper-smoke floats up from the houses.
...Oh, when shall I pledge the great Hermit again
And sing a wild poem at Five Willows?
AN AUTUMN EVENING IN THE MOUNTAINS
After rain the empty mountain
Stands autumnal in the evening,
Moonlight in its groves of pine,
Stones of crystal in its brooks.
Bamboos whisper of washer-girls bound home,
Lotus-leaves yield before a fisher-boat --
And what does it matter that springtime has gone,
While you are here, O Prince of Friends?
BOUND HOME TO MOUNT SONG
The limpid river, past its bushes
Running slowly as my chariot,
Becomes a fellow voyager
Returning home with the evening birds.
A ruined city-wall overtops an old ferry,
Autumn sunset floods the peaks.
...Far away, beside Mount Song,
I shall close my door and be at peace.
Its massive height near the City of Heaven
Joins a thousand mountains to the corner of the sea.
Clouds, when I look back, close behind me,
Mists, when I enter them, are gone.
A central peak divides the wilds
And weather into many valleys.
...Needing a place to spend the night,
I call to a wood-cutter over the river.
ANSWERING VICE-PREFECT ZHANG
As the years go by, give me but peace,
Freedom from ten thousand matters.
I ask myself and always answer:
What can be better than coming home?
A wind from the pine-trees blows my sash,
And my lute is bright with the mountain moon.
You ask me about good and evil fortune?....
Hark, on the lake there's a fisherman singing!
TOWARD THE TEMPLE OF HEAPED FRAGRANCE
Not knowing the way to the Temple of Heaped Fragrance,
Under miles of mountain-cloud I have wandered
Through ancient woods without a human track;
But now on the height I hear a bell.
A rillet sings over winding rocks,
The sun is tempered by green pines....
And at twilight, close to an emptying pool,
Thought can conquer the Passion-Dragon.
A MESSAGE TO COMMISSIONER LI AT ZIZHOU
From ten thousand valleys the trees touch heaven;
On a thousand peaks cuckoos are calling;
And, after a night of mountain rain,
From each summit come hundreds of silken cascades.
...If girls are asked in tribute the fibre they weave,
Or farmers quarrel over taro fields,
Preside as wisely as Wenweng did....
Is fame to be only for the ancients?
A VIEW OF THE HAN RIVER
With its three southern branches reaching the Chu border,
And its nine streams touching the gateway of Jing,
This river runs beyond heaven and earth,
Where the colour of mountains both is and is not.
The dwellings of men seem floating along
On ripples of the distant sky --
These beautiful days here in Xiangyang
Make drunken my old mountain heart!
MY RETREAT AT MOUNT ZHONGNAN
My heart in middle age found the Way.
And I came to dwell at the foot of this mountain.
When the spirit moves, I wander alone
Amid beauty that is all for me....
I will walk till the water checks my path,
Then sit and watch the rising clouds --
And some day meet an old wood-cutter
And talk and laugh and never return.
A MESSAGE FROM LAKE DONGTIN
TO PREMIER ZHANG
Here in the Eighth-month the waters of the lake
Are of a single air with heaven,
And a mist from the Yun and Meng valleys
Has beleaguered the city of Youzhou.
I should like to cross, but I can find no boat.
...How ashamed I am to be idler than you statesmen,
As I sit here and watch a fisherman casting
And emptily envy him his catch.
ON CLIMBING YAN MOUNTAIN WITH FRIENDS
While worldly matters take their turn,
Ancient, modern, to and fro,
Rivers and mountains are changeless in their glory
And still to be witnessed from this trail.
Where a fisher-boat dips by a waterfall,
Where the air grows colder, deep in the valley,
The monument of Yang remains;
And we have wept, reading the words.
AT A BANQUET IN THE HOUSE
OF THE TAOIST PRIEST MEI
In my bed among the woods, grieving that spring must end,
I lifted up the curtain on a pathway of flowers,
And a flashing bluebird bade me come
To the dwelling-place of the Red Pine Genie.
...What a flame for his golden crucible --
Peach-trees magical with buds ! --
And for holding boyhood in his face,
The rosy-flowing wine of clouds!
ON RETURNING AT THE YEAR'S END TO
I petition no more at the north palace-gate.
...To this tumble-down hut on Zhongnan Mountain
I was banished for my blunders, by a wise ruler.
I have been sick so long I see none of my friends.
My white hairs hasten my decline,
Like pale beams ending the old year.
Therefore I lie awake and ponder
On the pine-shadowed moonlight in my empty window.
STOPPING AT A FRIEND'S FARM-HOUSE
Preparing me chicken and rice, old friend,
You entertain me at your farm.
We watch the green trees that circle your village
And the pale blue of outlying mountains.
We open your window over garden and field,
To talk mulberry and hemp with our cups in our hands.
...Wait till the Mountain Holiday --
I am coming again in chrysanthemum time.
FROM QIN COUNTRY TO THE BUDDHIST PRIEST YUAN
How gladly I would seek a mountain
If I had enough means to live as a recluse!
For I turn at last from serving the State
To the Eastern Woods Temple and to you, my master.
...Like ashes of gold in a cinnamon-flame,
My youthful desires have been burnt with the years-
And tonight in the chilling sunset-wind
A cicada, singing, weighs on my heart.
FROM A MOORING ON THE TONGLU
TO A FRIEND IN YANGZHOU
With monkeys whimpering on the shadowy mountain,
And the river rushing through the night,
And a wind in the leaves along both banks,
And the moon athwart my solitary sail,
I, a stranger in this inland district,
Homesick for my Yangzhou friends,
Send eastward two long streams of tears
To find the nearest touch of the sea.
TAKING LEAVE OF WANG WEI
Slow and reluctant, I have waited
Day after day, till now I must go.
How sweet the road-side flowers might be
If they did not mean good-bye, old friend.
The Lords of the Realm are harsh to us
And men of affairs are not our kind.
I will turn back home, I will say no more,
I will close the gate of my old garden.
MEMORIES IN EARLY WINTER
South go the wildgesse, for leaves are now falling,
And the water is cold with a wind from the north.
I remember my home; but the Xiang River's curves
Are walled by the clouds of this southern country.
I go forward. I weep till my tears are spent.
I see a sail in the far sky.
Where is the ferry? Will somebody tell me?
It's growing rough. It's growing dark.
CLIMBING IN AUTUMN FOR A VIEW FROM THE TEMPLE
ON THE TERRACE OF GENERAL WU
So autumn breaks my homesick heart....
Few pilgrims venture climbing to a temple so wild,
Up from the lake, in the mountain clouds.
...Sunset clings in the old defences,
A stone gong shivers through the empty woods.
...Of the Southern Dynasty, what remains?
Nothing but the great River.
A FAREWELL TO GOVERNOR LI
ON HIS WAY HOME TO HANYANG
Sad wanderer, once you conquered the South,
Commanding a hundred thousand men;
Today, dismissed and dispossessed,
In your old age you remember glory.
Once, when you stood, three borders were still;
Your dagger was the scale of life.
Now, watching the great rivers, the Jiang and the Han,
On their ways in the evening, where do you go?
ON SEEING WANG LEAVE FOR THE SOUTH
Toward a mist upon the water
Still I wave my hand and sob,
For the flying bird is lost in space
Beyond a desolate green mountain....
But now the long river, the far lone sail,
five lakes, gleam like spring in the sunset;
And down an island white with duckweed
Comes the quiet of communion.
WHILE VISITING ON THE SOUTH STREAM
THE TAOIST PRIEST CHANG
Walking along a little path,
I find a footprint on the moss,
A while cloud low on the quiet lake,
Grasses that sweeten an idle door,
A pine grown greener with the rain,
A brook that comes from a mountain source --
And, mingling with Truth among the flowers,
I have forgotten what to say.
NEW YEAR'S AT CHANGSHA
New Year's only deepens my longing,
Adds to the lonely tears of an exile
Who, growing old and still in harness,
Is left here by the homing spring....
Monkeys come down from the mountains to haunt me.
I bend like a willow, when it rains on the river.
I think of Jia Yi, who taught here and died here-
And I wonder what my term shall be.
FAREWELL TO A JAPANESE BUDDHIST PRIEST
You were foreordained to find the source.
Now, tracing your way as in a dream
There where the sea floats up the sky,
You wane from the world in your fragile boat....
The water and the moon are as calm as your faith,
Fishes and dragons follow your chanting,
And the eye still watches beyond the horizon
The holy light of your single lantern.
FROM MY STUDY AT THE MOUTH OF THE VALLEY.
A MESSAGE TO CENSOR YANG
At a little grass-hut in the valley of the river,
Where a cloud seems born from a viney wall,
You will love the bamboos new with rain,
And mountains tender in the sunset.
Cranes drift early here to rest
And autumn flowers are slow to fade....
I have bidden my pupil to sweep the grassy path
For the coming of my friend.
A GREETING ON THE HUAI RIVER
TO MY OLD FRIENDS FROM LIANGCHUAN
We used to be companions on the Jiang and the Han,
And as often as we met, we were likely to be tipsy.
Since we left one another, floating apart like clouds,
Ten years have run like water-till at last we join again.
And we talk again and laugh again just as in earlier days,
Except that the hair on our heads is tinged now with grey.
Why not come along, then, all of us together,
And face the autumn mountains and sail along the Huai?
A FAREWELL IN THE EVENING RAIN TO LI CAO
Is it raining on the river all the way to Chu? -- -
The evening bell comes to us from Nanjing.
Your wet sail drags and is loath to be going
And shadowy birds are flying slow.
We cannot see the deep ocean-gate --
Only the boughs at Pukou, newly dripping.
Likewise, because of our great love,
There are threads of water on our faces.
AN AUTUMN EVENING HARMONIZING
CHENG QIN'S POEM
While a cold wind is creeping under my mat,
And the city's naked wall grows pale with the autumn moon,
I see a lone wild-goose crossing the River of Stars,
And I hear, on stone in the night, thousands of washing mallets....
But, instead of wishing the season, as it goes,
To bear me also far away,
I have found your poem so beautiful
That I forget the homing birds.
On a road outreaching the white clouds,
By a spring outrunning the bluest river,
Petals come drifting on the wind
And the brook is sweet with them all the way.
My quiet gate is a mountain-trail,
And the willow-trees about my cottage
Sift on my sleeve, through the shadowy noon,
Distillations of the sun.
CHANGING ON OLD FRIENDS IN A VILLAGE INN
While the autumn moon is pouring full
On a thousand night-levels among towns and villages,
There meet by chance, south of the river,
Dreaming doubters of a dream....
In the trees a wind has startled the birds,
And insects cower from cold in the grass;
But wayfarers at least have wine
And nothing to fear -- till the morning bell.
A FAREWELL TO LI DUAN
By my old gate, among yellow grasses,
Still we linger, sick at heart.
The way you must follow through cold clouds
Will lead you this evening into snow.
Your father died; you left home young;
Nobody knew of your misfortunes.
We cry, we say nothing. What can I wish you,
In this blowing wintry world?
A BRIEF BUT HAPPY MEETING WITH MY BROTHER-IN LAW
"MEETING BY ACCIDENT, ONLY TO PART"
After these ten torn wearisome years
We have met again. We were both so changed
That hearing first your surname, I thought you a stranger --
Then hearing your given name, I remembered your young face....
All that has happened with the tides
We have told and told till the evening bell....
Tomorrow you journey to Youzhou,
Leaving autumn between us, peak after peak.
A FAREWELL TO HAN SHEN AT THE YUNYANG INN
Long divided by river and sea,
For years we two have failed to meet --
And suddenly to find you seems like a dream....
With a catch in the throat, we ask how old we are.
...Our single lamp shines, through cold and wet,
On a bamboo- thicket sheathed in rain;
But forgetting the sadness that will come with tomorrow,
Let us share the comfort of this farewell wine.
WHEN LU LUN MY COUSIN COMES FOR THE NIGHT
With no other neighbour but the quiet night,
Here I live in the same old cottage;
And as raindrops brighten yellow leaves,
The lamp illumines my white head....
Out of the world these many years,
I am ashamed to receive you here.
But you cannot come too often,
More than brother, lifelong friend.
TO A FRIEND BOUND NORTH
AFTER THE REBELLION
In dangerous times we two came south;
Now you go north in safety, without me.
But remember my head growing white among strangers,
When you look on the blue of the mountains of home.
...The moon goes down behind a ruined fort,
Leaving star-clusters above an old gate....
There are shivering birds and withering grasses,
Whichever way I turn my face.
IN THE TEMPLE OF THE FIRST KING OF SHU
Even in this world the spirit of a hero
Lives and reigns for thousands of years.
You were the firmest of the pot's three legs;
It was you who maintained the honour of the currency;
You chose a great premier to magnify your kingdom....
And yet you had a son so little like his father
That girls of your country were taken captive
To dance in the palace of the King of Wei.
THINKING OF A FRIEND LOST
IN THE TIBETAN WAR
Last year you went with your troops to Tibet;
And when your men had vanished beyond the citywall,
News was cut off between the two worlds
As between the living and the dead.
No one has come upon a faithful horse guarding
A crumpled tent or torn flag, or any trace of you.
If only I knew, I might serve you in the temple,
Instead of these tears toward the far sky.
Boundless grasses over the plain
Come and go with every season;
Wildfire never quite consumes them --
They are tall once more in the spring wind.
Sweet they press on the old high- road
And reach the crumbling city-gate....
O Prince of Friends, you are gone again....
I hear them sighing after you.
A NIGHT AT A TAVERN
Solitary at the tavern,
I am shut in with loneliness and grief.
Under the cold lamp, I brood on the past;
I am kept awake by a lost wildgoose.
...Roused at dawn from a misty dream,
I read, a year late, news from home --
And I remember the moon like smoke on the river
And a fisher-boat moored there, under my door.
INSCRIBED IN THE INN AT TONG GATE
ON AN AUTUMN TRIP TO THE CAPITAL
Red leaves are fluttering down the twilight
Past this arbour where I take my wine;
Cloud-rifts are blowing toward Great Flower Mountain,
And a shower is crossing the Middle Ridge.
I can see trees colouring a distant wall.
I can hear the river seeking the sea,
As I the Imperial City tomorrow --
But I dream of woodsmen and fishermen.
There's a harp in the midnight playing clear,
While the west wind rustles a green vine;
There's a low cloud touching the jade-white dew
And an early wildgoose in the River of Stars....
Night in the tall trees clings to dawn;
Light makes folds in the distant hills;
And here on the Huai, by one falling leaf,
I can feel a storm on Lake Dongting.
Pure of heart and therefore hungry,
All night long you have sung in vain --
Oh, this final broken indrawn breath
Among the green indifferent trees!
Yes, I have gone like a piece of driftwood,
I have let my garden fill with weeds....
I bless you for your true advice
To live as pure a life as yours.
WIND AND RAIN
I ponder on the poem of The Precious Dagger.
My road has wound through many years.
...Now yellow leaves are shaken with a gale;
Yet piping and fiddling keep the Blue Houses merry.
On the surface, I seem to be glad of new people;
But doomed to leave old friends behind me,
I cry out from my heart for Xinfeng wine
To melt away my thousand woes.
Gone is the guest from the Chamber of Rank,
And petals, confused in my little garden,
Zigzagging down my crooked path,
Escort like dancers the setting sun.
Oh, how can I bear to sweep them away?
To a sad-eyed watcher they never return.
Heart's fragrance is spent with the ending of spring
And nothing left but a tear-stained robe.
THOUGHTS IN THE COLD
You are gone. The river is high at my door.
Cicadas are mute on dew-laden boughs.
This is a moment when thoughts enter deep.
I stand alone for a long while.
...The North Star is nearer to me now than spring,
And couriers from your southland never arrive --
Yet I doubt my dream on the far horizon
That you have found another friend.
NORTH AMONG GREEN VINES
Where the sun has entered the western hills,
I look for a monk in his little straw hut;
But only the fallen leaves are at home,
And I turn through chilling levels of cloud
I hear a stone gong in the dusk,
I lean full-weight on my slender staff
How within this world, within this grain of dust,
Can there be any room for the passions of men?
TO A FRIEND BOUND EAST
The old fort brims with yellow leaves....
You insist upon forsaking this place where you have lived.
A high wind blows at Hanyang Ferry
And sunrise lights the summit of Yingmen....
Who will be left for me along the upper Yangzi
After your solitary skiff has entered the end of the sky?
I ask you over and over when we shall meet again,
While we soften with winecups this ache of farewell.
AN AUTUMN COTTAGE AT BASHANG
After the shower at Bashang,
I see an evening line of wildgeese,
The limp-hanging leaves of a foreign tree,
A lantern's cold gleam, lonely in the night,
An empty garden, white with dew,
The ruined wall of a neighbouring monastery.
...I have taken my ease here long enough.
What am I waiting for, I wonder.
THOUGHTS OF OLD TIME
ON THE CHU RIVER
A cold light shines on the gathering dew,
As sunset fades beyond the southern mountains;
Trees echo with monkeys on the banks of Lake Dongting,
Where somebody is moving in an orchid-wood boat.
Marsh-lands are swollen wide with the moon,
While torrents are bent to the mountains' will;
And the vanished Queens of the Clouds leave me
Sad with autumn all night long.
ON THE BORDER
Though a bugle breaks the crystal air of autumn,
Soldiers, in the look-out, watch at ease today
The spring wind blowing across green graves
And the pale sun setting beyond Liangzhou.
For now, on grey plains done with war,
The border is open to travel again;
And Tartars can no more choose than rivers:
They are running, all of them, toward the south.
ON NEW YEAR'S EVE
Farther and farther from the three Ba Roads,
I have come three thousand miles, anxious and watchful,
Through pale snow-patches in the jagged nightmountains --
A stranger with a lonely lantern shaken in the wind.
...Separation from my kin
Binds me closer to my servants --
Yet how I dread, so far adrift,
New Year's Day, tomorrow morning!
A SOLITARY WILDGOOSE
Line after line has flown back over the border.
Where are you headed all by yourself?
In the evening rain you call to them --
And slowly you alight on an icy pond.
The low wet clouds move faster than you
Along the wall toward the cold moon.
...If they caught you in a net or with a shot,
Would it be worse than flying alone?
A SIGH IN THE SPRING PALACE
Knowing beauty my misfortune,
I face my mirror with a sigh.
To please a fastidious emperor,
How shall I array myself?....
Birds flock and sing when the wind is warm,
Flower-shadows climb when the sun is high --
And year after year girls in the south
Are picking hibiscus, dreaming of love!
A NIGHT THOUGHT ON TERRACE TOWER
Far through the night a harp is sighing
With a sadness of wind and rain in the strings....
There's a solitary lantern, a bugle-call --
And beyond Terrace Tower down goes the moon.
...Fragrant grasses have changed and faded
While still I have been hoping that my old friend would come....
There are no more messengers I can send him,
Now that the wildgeese have turned south.
NOT FINDING LU HONGXIAN AT HOME
To find you, moved beyond the city,
A wide path led me, by mulberry and hemp,
To a new-set hedge of chrysanthemums --
Not yet blooming although autumn had come.
...I knocked; no answer, not even a dog.
I waited to ask your western neighbour;
But he told me that daily you climb the mountain,
Never returning until sunset.
THE YELLOW CRANE TERRACE
Where long ago a yellow crane bore a sage to heaven,
Nothing is left now but the Yellow Crane Terrace.
The yellow crane never revisited earth,
And white clouds are flying without him for ever.
...Every tree in Hanyang becomes clear in the water,
And Parrot Island is a nest of sweet grasses;
But I look toward home, and twilight grows dark
With a mist of grief on the river waves.
PASSING THROUGH HUAYIN
Lords of the capital, sharp, unearthly,
The Great Flower's three points pierce through heaven.
Clouds are parting above the Temple of the Warring Emperor,
Rain dries on the mountain, on the Giant's Palm.
Ranges and rivers are the strength of this western gate,
Whence roads and trails lead downward into China.
...O pilgrim of fame, O seeker of profit,
Why not remain here and lengthen your days?
LOOKING TOWARD AN INNER GATE
OF THE GREAT WALL
My heart sank when I headed north from Yan Country
To the camps of China echoing ith bugle and drum.
...In an endless cold light of massive snow,
Tall flags on three borders rise up like a dawn.
War-torches invade the barbarian moonlight,
Mountain-clouds like chairmen bear the Great Wall from the sea.
...Though no youthful clerk meant to be a great general,
I throw aside my writing-brush --
Like the student who tossed off cap for a lariat,
I challenge what may come.
A FAREWELL TO WEI WAN
The travellers' parting-song sounds in the dawn.
Last night a first frost came over the river;
And the crying of the wildgeese grieves my sad heart
Bounded by a gloom of cloudy mountains....
Here in the Gate City, day will flush cold
And washing-flails quicken by the gardens at twilight --
How long shall the capital content you,
Where the months and the years so vainly go by?
A CLIMB ON THE MOUNTAIN HOLIDAY
TO THE TERRACE WHENCE ONE SEES THE MAGICIAN
A POEM SENT TO VICE-PREFECT LU
The Han Emperor Wen bequeathed us this terrace
Which I climb to watch the coming dawn.
Cloudy peaks run northward in the three Jin districts,
And rains are blowing westward through the two Ling valleys.
...Who knows but me about the Guard at the Gate,
Or where the Magician of the River Bank is,
Or how to find that magistrate, that poet,
Who was as fond as I am of chrysanthemums and winecups?
ON CLIMBING IN NANJING TO THE TERRACE
Phoenixes that played here once, so that the place was named for them,
Have abandoned it now to this desolate river;
The paths of Wu Palace are crooked with weeds;
The garments of Qin are ancient dust.
...Like this green horizon halving the Three Peaks,
Like this Island of White Egrets dividing the river,
A cloud has arisen between the Light of Heaven and me,
To hide his city from my melancholy heart.
TO VICE-PREFECTS LI AND WANG DEGRADED AND
TRANSFERRED TO XIAZHONG AND CHANGSHA
What are you thinking as we part from one another,
Pulling in our horses for the stirrup-cups?
Do these tear-streaks mean Wu Valley monkeys all weeping,
Or wildgeese returning with news from Heng Mountain?....
On the river between green maples an autumn sail grows dim,
There are only a few old trees by the wall of the White God City....
But the year is bound to freshen us with a dew of heavenly favour --
Take heart, we shall soon be together again!
AN EARLY AUDIENCE AT THE PALACE OF LIGHT
HARMONIZING SECRETARY JIA ZHI'S POEM
Cock-crow, the Purple Road cold in the dawn;
Linnet songs, court roofs tinted with April;
At the Golden Gate morning bell, countless doors open,
And up the jade steps float a thousand officials
With flowery scabbards.... Stars have gone down;
Willows are brushing the dew from the flags --
And, alone on the Lake of the Phoenix, a guest
Is chanting too well The Song of Bright Spring.
AN EARLY AUDIENCE AT THE PALACE OF LIGHT
HARMONIZING SECRETARY JIA ZHI POEM
The red-capped Cock-Man has just announced morning;
The Keeper of the Robes brings Jade-Cloud Furs;
Heaven's nine doors reveal the palace and its courtyards;
And the coats of many countries bow to the Pearl Crown.
Sunshine has entered the giants' carven palms;
Incense wreathes the Dragon Robe:
The audience adjourns-and the five-coloured edict
Sets girdle-beads clinking toward the Lake of the Phoenix.
LOOKING DOWN IN A SPRING-RAIN ON THE COURSE
FROM FAIRY-MOUNTAIN PALACE TO THE PAVILION OF
INCREASE HARMONIZING THE EMPEROR'S POEM
Round a turn of the Qin Fortress winds the Wei River,
And Yellow Mountain foot-hills enclose the Court of China;
Past the South Gate willows comes the Car of Many Bells
On the upper Palace-Garden Road-a solid length of blossom;
A Forbidden City roof holds two phoenixes in cloud;
The foliage of spring shelters multitudes from rain;
And now, when the heavens are propitious for action,
Here is our Emperor ready-no wasteful wanderer.
IN MY LODGE AT WANG CHUAN
AFTER A LONG RAIN
The woods have stored the rain, and slow comes the smoke
As rice is cooked on faggots and carried to the fields;
Over the quiet marsh-land flies a white egret,
And mango-birds are singing in the full summer trees....
I have learned to watch in peace the mountain morningglories,
To eat split dewy sunflower-seeds under a bough of pine,
To yield the post of honour to any boor at all....
Why should I frighten sea gulls, even with a thought?
HARMONIZING A POEM BY PALACE-ATTENDANT GUO
High beyond the thick wall a tower shines with sunset
Where peach and plum are blooming and the willowcotton flies.
You have heard in your office the court-bell of twilight;
Birds find perches, officials head for home.
Your morning-jade will tinkle as you thread the golden palace;
You will bring the word of Heaven from the closing gates at night.
And I should serve there with you; but being full of years,
I have taken off official robes and am resting from my troubles.
THE TEMPLE OF THE PREMIER OF SHU
Where is the temple of the famous Premier? --
In a deep pine grove near the City of Silk,
With the green grass of spring colouring the steps,
And birds chirping happily under the leaves.
...The third summons weighted him with affairs of state
And to two generations he gave his true heart,
But before he could conquer, he was dead;
And heroes have wept on their coats ever since.
A HEARTY WELCOME TO VICE-PREFECT CUI
North of me, south of me, spring is in flood,
Day after day I have seen only gulls....
My path is full of petals -- I have swept it for no others.
My thatch gate has been closed -- but opens now for you.
It's a long way to the market, I can offer you little --
Yet here in my cottage there is old wine for our cups.
Shall we summon my elderly neighbour to join us,
Call him through the fence, and pour the jar dry?
A VIEW OF THE WILDERNESS
Snow is white on the westward mountains and on three fortified towns,
And waters in this southern lake flash on a long bridge.
But wind and dust from sea to sea bar me from my brothers;
And I cannot help crying, I am so far away.
I have nothing to expect now but the ills of old age.
I am of less use to my country than a grain of dust.
I ride out to the edge of town. I watch on the horizon,
Day after day, the chaos of the world.
BOTH SIDES OF THE YELLOW RIVER
RECAPTURED BY THE IMPERIAL ARMY
News at this far western station! The north has been recaptured!
At first I cannot check the tears from pouring on my coat --
Where is my wife? Where are my sons?
Yet crazily sure of finding them, I pack my books and poems- -
And loud my song and deep my drink
On the green spring-day that starts me home,
Back from this mountain, past another mountain,
Up from the south, north again-to my own town!
A LONG CLIMB
In a sharp gale from the wide sky apes are whimpering,
Birds are flying homeward over the clear lake and white sand,
Leaves are dropping down like the spray of a waterfall,
While I watch the long river always rolling on.
I have come three thousand miles away. Sad now with autumn
And with my hundred years of woe, I climb this height alone.
Ill fortune has laid a bitter frost on my temples,
Heart-ache and weariness are a thick dust in my wine.
FROM AN UPPER STORY
Flowers, as high as my window, hurt the heart of a wanderer
For I see, from this high vantage, sadness everywhere.
The Silken River, bright with spring, floats between earth and heaven
Like a line of cloud by the Jade Peak, between ancient days and now.
...Though the State is established for a while as firm as the North Star
And bandits dare not venture from the western hills,
Yet sorry in the twilight for the woes of a longvanished Emperor,
I am singing the song his Premier sang when still unestranged from the mountain.
STAYING AT THE GENERAL'S HEADQUARTERS
The autumn night is clear and cold in the lakka-trees of this courtyard.
I am lying forlorn in the river-town. I watch my guttering candle.
I hear the lonely notes of a bugle sounding through the dark.
The moon is in mid-heaven, but there's no one to share it with me.
My messengers are scattered by whirls of rain and sand.
City-gates are closed to a traveller; mountains are walls in my way --
Yet, I who have borne ten years of pitiable existence,
Find here a perch, a little branch, and am safe for this one night.
NIGHT IN THE WATCH-TOWER
While winter daylight shortens in the elemental scale
And snow and frost whiten the cold-circling night,
Stark sounds the fifth-watch with a challenge of drum and bugle.
...The stars and the River of Heaven pulse over the three mountains;
I hear women in the distance, wailing after the battle;
I see barbarian fishermen and woodcutters in the dawn.
...Sleeping-Dragon, Plunging-Horse, are no generals now, they are dust --
Hush for a moment, O tumult of the world.
POETIC THOUGHTS ON ANCIENT SITES I
Forlorn in the northeast among wind and dust,
Drifting in the southwest between heaven and earth,
Lingering for days and months in towers and terraces at the Three Gorges,
Sharing clouds and mountains with the costumes of the Five Streams.
The barbarian serving the ruler in the end was unreliable.
The wandering poet lamenting the times had no chance to return.
Yu Xin throughout his life was most miserable,
In his waning years his poetry stirred the land of rivers and passes.
POETIC THOUGHTS ON ANCIENT SITES II
"Decay and decline": deep knowledge have I of Sung Yu's grief.
Romantic and refined, he too is my teacher.
Sadly looking across a thousand autumns, one shower of tears,
Melancholy in different epochs, not at the same time.
Among rivers and mountains his old abode -- empty his writings;
Deserted terrace of cloud and rain -- surely not just imagined in a dream?
Utterly the palaces of Chu are all destroyed and ruined,
The fishermen pointing them out today are unsure.
THOUGHTS OF OLD TIME III
Ten thousand ranges and valleys approach the Jing Gate
And the village in which the Lady of Light was born and bred.
She went out from the purple palace into the desertland;
She has now become a green grave in the yellow dusk.
Her face ! Can you picture a wind of the spring?
Her spirit by moonlight returns with a tinkling
Song of the Tartars on her jade guitar,
Telling her eternal sorrow.
POETIC THOUGHTS ON ANCIENT SITES IV
The ruler of Shu had his eyes on Wu and progressed as far as the Three Gorges.
In the year of his demise, too, he was in the Palace of Eternal Peace.
The blue-green banners can be imagined on the empty mountain,
The jade palace is a void in the deserted temple.
In the pines of the ancient shrine aquatic cranes nest;
At summer and winter festivals the comers are village elders.
The Martial Marquis's memorial shrine is ever nearby;
In union, sovereign and minister share the sacrifices together.
THOUGHTS OF OLD TIME V
Zhuge's prestige transcends the earth;
There is only reverence for his face;
Yet his will, among the Three Kingdoms at war,
Was only as one feather against a flaming sky.
He was brother of men like Yi and Lu
And in time would have surpassed the greatest of all statesmen.
Though he knew there was no hope for the House of Han,
Yet he wielded his mind for it, yielded his life.
ON LEAVING GUIJIANG AGAIN TO XUE AND LIU
Dare I, at my age, accept my summons,
Knowing of the world's ways only wine and song?....
Over the moon-edged river come wildgeese from the Tartars;
And the thinner the leaves along the Huai, the wider the southern mountains....
I ought to be glad to take my old bones back to the capital,
But what am I good for in that world, with my few white hairs?....
As bent and decrepit as you are, I am ashamed to thank you,
When you caution me that I may encounter thunderbolts.
ON PASSING JIA YI'S HOUSE IN CHANGSHA
Here, where you spent your three years' exile,
To be mourned in Chu ten thousand years,
Can I trace your footprint in the autumn grass --
Or only slanting sunlight through the bleak woods?
If even good Emperor Wen was cold-hearted,
Could you hope that the dull river Xiang would understand you,
These desolate waters, these taciturn mountains,
When you came, like me, so far away?
AN EVENING VIEW OF THE CITY OF YOUZHOU AFTER
COMING FROM HANKOU TO PARROT ISLAND A POEM SENT
TO MY FRIEND GOVERNOR YUAN
No ripples in the river, no mist on the islands,
Yet the landscape is blurred toward my friend in Chu....
Birds in the slanting sun cross Hankou,
And the autumn sky mingles with Lake Dongting.
...From a bleak mountain wall the cold tone of a bugle
Reminds me, moored by a ruined fort,
That Jia Yi's loyal plea to the House of Han
Banned him to Changsha, to be an exile.
TO MY FRIEND AT THE CAPITAL SECRETARY PEI
Finches flash yellow through the Imperial Grove
Of the Forbidden City, pale with spring dawn;
Flowers muffle a bell in the Palace of Bliss
And rain has deepened the Dragon Lake willows;
But spring is no help to a man bewildered,
Who would be like a cloud upholding the Light of Heaven,
Yet whose poems, ten years refused, are shaming
These white hairs held by the petalled pin.
TO MY FRIENDS LI DAN AND YUANXI
We met last among flowers, among flowers we parted,
And here, a year later, there are flowers again;
But, with ways of the world too strange to foretell,
Spring only brings me grief and fatigue.
I am sick, and I think of my home in the country-
Ashamed to take pay while so many are idle.
...In my western tower, because of your promise,
I have watched the full moons come and go.
INSCRIBED IN THE TEMPLE OF THE WANDERING GENIE
I face, high over this enchanted lodge, the Court of the Five Cities of Heaven,
And I see a countryside blue and still, after the long rain.
The distant peaks and trees of Qin merge into twilight,
And Had Palace washing-stones make their autumnal echoes.
Thin pine-shadows brush the outdoor pulpit,
And grasses blow their fragrance into my little cave.
...Who need be craving a world beyond this one?
Here, among men, are the Purple Hills
Finch-notes and swallow-notes tell the new year....
But so far are the Town of the Horse and the Dragon Mound
From this our house, from these walls and Han Gardens,
That the moon takes my heart to the Tartar sky.
I have woven in the frame endless words of my grieving....
Yet this petal-bough is smiling now on my lonely sleep.
Oh, ask General Dou when his flags will come home
And his triumph be carved on the rock of Yanran mountain!
A NIGHT-MOORING AT WUCHANG
Far off in the clouds stand the walls of Hanyang,
Another day's journey for my lone sail....
Though a river-merchant ought to sleep in this calm weather,
I listen to the tide at night and voices of the boatmen.
...My thin hair grows wintry, like the triple Xiang streams,
Three thousand miles my heart goes, homesick with the moon;
But the war has left me nothing of my heritage --
And oh, the pang of hearing these drums along the river!
FROM THE CITY-TOWER OF LIUZHOU
TO MY FOUR FELLOW-OFFICIALS AT ZHANG,
DING, FENG, AND LIAN DISTRICTS
At this lofty tower where the town ends, wilderness begins;
And our longing has as far to go as the ocean or the sky....
Hibiscus-flowers by the moat heave in a sudden wind,
And vines along the wall are whipped with slanting rain.
Nothing to see for three hundred miles but a blur of woods and mountain --
And the river's nine loops, twisting in our bowels....
This is where they have sent us, this land of tattooed people --
And not even letters, to keep us in touch with home.
THOUGHTS OF OLD TIME AT WEST FORT MOUNTAIN
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Since Wang Jun brought his towering ships down from Yizhou,
The royal ghost has pined in the city of Nanjing.
Ten thousand feet of iron chain were sunk here to the bottom --
And then came the flag of surrender on the Wall of Stone....
Cycles of change have moved into the past,
While still this mountain dignity has commanded the cold river;
And now comes the day of the Chinese world united,
And the old forts fill with ruin and with autumn reeds.