Today is for Li Po-
I will bring in some of my other favorites later (Du Fu, Wang Wei etc.).
Taking Leave of a Friend
Blue mountains lie beyond the north wall;
Round the city’s eastern side flows the white water.
Here we part, friend, once and forever.
You go ten thousand miles, drifting away
Like an unrooted water-grass.
Oh, the floating clouds and the thoughts of a wanderer!
Oh, the sunset and the longing of an old friend!
We ride away from each other, waving our hands,
While our horses neigh softly, softly . . . .
To His Two Children
In the land of Wu the mulberry leaves are green,
And three times the silkworms have gone off to sleep.
In East Luh where my family stay,
I wonder who is sowing those fields of ours.
I cannot be back in time for the spring work,
I can help with nothing, traveling on the river.
The south wind blowing wafts my homesick spirit
And carries it up to the front of our familiar tavern.
There I see a peach tree on the east side of the house
With thick leaves and branches waving in the blue mist.
It is the tree I planted before my parting three years ago.
The peach tree has grown now as tall as the tavern roof,
While I have wandered about without returning.
Ping-yang, my pretty daughter, I see you stand
You pluck the flowers, but I am not there;
How your tears flow like a stream of water!
My little son, Po-chin, grown up to your sister’s shoulders,
You come out with her under the peach tree,
But who is there to pat you on the back?
When I think of these things, my senses fail,
And a sharp pain cuts my heart every day.
Now I tear off a piece of white silk to write this letter,
And send it to you with my love a long way up the river.
The Old Dust
The living is a passing traveler;
One brief journey between heaven and earth,
Then, alas! we are the same old dust of ten thousand ages.
The rabbit in the moon pounds the elixir in vain;
Fu-sang, the tree of immortality, has crumbled to kindling wood.
Man dies, his white bones are dumb without a word
While the green pines feel the coming of the spring.
Looking back, I sigh; looking before, I sigh again.
What is there to prize in the life’s vaporous glory?
Last year we fought by the head-stream of the Sang-kan,
This year we are fighting on the Tsung-ho road.
We have pastured our horses on Tien-shan’s snowy slopes.
The long, long war goes on ten thousand miles from home,
Our three armies are worn and grown old.
The barbarian does man-slaughter, not plowing;
On this yellow sand-plains nothing has been seen but
blanched skulls and bones.
Where the Chin emperor built the walls against the Tartars,
There the defenders of Han are burning beacon fires.
The beacon fires burn and never go out,
There is no end to war!—
In the battlefield men grapple each other and die;
The horses of the vanquished utter lamentable cries to heaven,
While ravens and kites peck at human entrails,
Carry them up in their flight, and hang them on the branches of dead trees.
So, men are scattered and smeared over the desert grass,
And the generals have accomplished nothing.
Oh, nefarious war! I see why arms
Were so seldom used by the benign sovereigns.
From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone.There was no one with me —
Till raising my cup, I ask the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends
To cheer me through the end of spring….
I sang. The moon encouraged me
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were born companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
….Shall goodwill ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the River of Stars.
Sunlight streams on the river stones.
From high above, the river steadily plunges —
three thousand feet of sparkling water —
the Milky Way pouring down from heaven.
CLEARING AT DAWN
The fields are chill, the sparse rain has stopped;
The colours of Spring teem on every side.
With leaping fish the blue pond is full;
With singing thrushes the green boughs droop.
The flowers of the field have dabbled their powdered cheeks;
The mountain grasses are bent level at the waist.
By the bamboo stream the last fragment of cloud
Blown by the wind slowly scatters away.
I sat srinking and did not notice the dusk,
Till falling petals filled the folds of my dress.
Drunken I rose and walked to the moonlit stream;
The birds were gone, and men also few.
My friend is lodging high in the Eastern Range,
Dearly loving the beauty of valleys and hills.
At green Spring he lies in the empty woods,
And is still asleep when the sun shines on igh.
A pine-tree wind dusts his sleeves and coat;
A peebly stream cleans his heart and ears.
I envy you, who far from strife and talk
Are high-propped on a pillow of blue cloud.