You insist upon forsaking this place where you have lived.

After the shower at Bashang

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Wen Tingyun
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.


Ma Dai
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.


Ma Dai
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.


The border is open to travel again;
And Tartars can no more choose than rivers:
They are running, all of them, toward the south.


Cui Tu

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!

Heart’s fragrance is spent with the ending of spring

To live as pure a life as yours

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Li Shangyin
A CICADA
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.


Li Shangyin
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.


Li Shangyin
FALLING PETALS
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.


Li Shangyin
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.


Li Shangyin
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?


Wen Tingyun
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.


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Cloud-rifts are blowing toward Great Flower Mountain,

Boundless grasses over the plain

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Zhang Ji
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.


Bai Juyi
GRASSES
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.


Du Mu
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.


Xu Hun
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.


Xu Hun
EARLY AUTUMN
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.


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South go the wildgesse, for leaves are now falling, And the water is cold

I see a sail in the far sky

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Meng Haoran
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.


Liu Changqing
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.


Liu Chanqing
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?


Liu Changing
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.


Liu Changing
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.


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What are you thinking of, old friend? The wildgeese never answer me.

Du Fu
REMEMBERING MY BROTHERS ON A MOONLIGHT NIGHT
A wanderer hears drums portending battle.
By the first call of autumn from a wildgoose at the border,
He knows that the dews tonight will be frost.
…How much brighter the moonlight is at home!
O my brothers, lost and scattered,
What is life to me without you?
Yet if missives in time of peace go wrong —
What can I hope for during war?


Du Fu
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.


Du Fu
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.


Du Fu
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.


Du Fu
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!


Du Fu
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?

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