Sunset lingers at the ferry,

Wang Wei
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?


Wang Wei
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?


Wang Wei
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.


Wang Wei
MOUNT ZHONGNAN
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.


Wang Wei
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!


Wang Wei
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.

 

What is life to me without you?

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?

I have poems; I can read

Li Bai
THOUGHTS OF OLD TIME FROM A NIGHT-MOORING
UNDER MOUNT NIU-ZHU
This night to the west of the river-brim
There is not one cloud in the whole blue sky,
As I watch from my deck the autumn moon,
Vainly remembering old General Xie….
I have poems; I can read;
He heard others, but not mine.
…Tomorrow I shall hoist my sail,
With fallen maple-leaves behind me.


Du Fu
ON A MOONLIGHT NIGHT
Far off in Fuzhou she is watching the moonlight,
Watching it alone from the window of her chamber-
For our boy and girl, poor little babes,
Are too young to know where the Capital is.
Her cloudy hair is sweet with mist,
Her jade-white shoulder is cold in the moon.
…When shall we lie again, with no more tears,
Watching this bright light on our screen?


Du Fu
A SPRING VIEW
Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;
And spring comes green again to trees and grasses
Where petals have been shed like tears
And lonely birds have sung their grief.
…After the war-fires of three months,
One message from home is worth a ton of gold.
…I stroke my white hair. It has grown too thin
To hold the hairpins any more.


Du Fu
A NIGHT-VIGIL IN THE LEFT COURT OF THE PALACE
Flowers are shadowed, the palace darkens,
Birds twitter by for a place to perch;
Heaven’s ten thousand windows are twinkling,
And nine cloud-terraces are gleaming in the moonlight.
…While I wait for the golden lock to turn,
I hear jade pendants tinkling in the wind….
I have a petition to present in the morning,
All night I ask what time it is.


Du Fu
TAKING LEAVE OF FRIENDS ON MY WAY TO HUAZHOU
In the second year of Zhide, I escaped from the capital through the Gate of Golden Light and went to Fengxiang. In the first year of Qianyuan, I was appointed as official to Huazhou from my former post of Censor. Friends and relatives gathered and saw me leave by the same gate. And I wrote this poem.
This is the road by which I fled,
When the rebels had reached the west end of the city;
And terror, ever since, has clutched at my vitals
Lest some of my soul should never return.
…The court has come back now, filling the capital;
But the Emperor sends me away again.
Useless and old, I rein in my horse
For one last look at the thousand gates.

Master, I hail you from my heart

Cen Can
A MESSAGE TO CENSOR Du Fu
AT HIS OFFICE IN THE LEFT COURT
Together we officials climbed vermilion steps,
To be parted by the purple walls….
Our procession, which entered the palace at dawn,
Leaves fragrant now at dusk with imperial incense.
…Grey heads may grieve for a fallen flower,
Or blue clouds envy a lilting bird;
But this reign is of heaven, nothing goes wrong,
There have been almost no petitions.


Li Bai
A MESSAGE TO MENG HAORAN
Master, I hail you from my heart,
And your fame arisen to the skies….
Renouncing in ruddy youth the importance of hat and chariot,
You chose pine-trees and clouds; and now, whitehaired,
Drunk with the moon, a sage of dreams,
Flower- bewitched, you are deaf to the Emperor….
High mountain, how I long to reach you,
Breathing your sweetness even here!


Li Bai
BIDDING A FRIEND FAREWELL AT JINGMEN FERRY
Sailing far off from Jingmen Ferry,
Soon you will be with people in the south,
Where the mountains end and the plains begin
And the river winds through wilderness….
The moon is lifted like a mirror,
Sea-clouds gleam like palaces,
And the water has brought you a touch of home
To draw your boat three hundred miles.


Li Bai
A FAREWELL TO A FRIEND
With a blue line of mountains north of the wall,
And east of the city a white curve of water,
Here you must leave me and drift away
Like a loosened water-plant hundreds of miles….
I shall think of you in a floating cloud;
So in the sunset think of me.
…We wave our hands to say good-bye,
And my horse is neighing again and again.


Li Bai
ON HEARING JUN THE BUDDHIST MONK
FROM SHU PLAY HIS LUTE
The monk from Shu with his green silk lute-case,
Walking west down Omei Mountain,
Has brought me by one touch of the strings
The breath of pines in a thousand valleys.
I hear him in the cleansing brook,
I hear him in the icy bells;
And I feel no change though the mountain darken
And cloudy autumn heaps the sky.

Ever new the shock of beauty

Du Shenyan
ON A WALK IN THE EARLY SPRING
HARMONIZING A POEM BY MY FRIEND LU
STATIONED AT CHANGZHOU
Only to wanderers can come
Ever new the shock of beauty,
Of white cloud and red cloud dawning from the sea,
Of spring in the wild-plum and river-willow….
I watch a yellow oriole dart in the warm air,
And a green water- plant reflected by the sun.
Suddenly an old song fills
My heart with home, my eyes with tears.


Shen Quanqi
LINES
Against the City of the Yellow Dragon
Our troops were sent long years ago,
And girls here watch the same melancholy moon
That lights our Chinese warriors —
And young wives dream a dream of spring,
That last night their heroic husbands,
In a great attack, with flags and drums,
Captured the City of the Yellow Dragon.


Song Zhiwen
INSCRIBED ON THE WALL OF AN INN
NORTH OF DAYU MOUNTAIN
They say that wildgeese, flying southward,
Here turn back, this very month….
Shall my own southward journey
Ever be retraced, I wonder?
…The river is pausing at ebb-tide,
And the woods are thick with clinging mist —
But tomorrow morning, over the mountain,
Dawn will be white with the plum-trees of home.


Wang Wan
A MOORING UNDER NORTH FORT HILL
Under blue mountains we wound our way,
My boat and 1, along green water;
Until the banks at low tide widened,
With no wind stirring my lone sail.
…Night now yields to a sea of sun,
And the old year melts in freshets.
At last I can send my messengers —
Wildgeese, homing to Loyang.


Chang Jian
A BUDDHIST RETREAT BEHIND BROKEN-MOUNTAIN TEMPLE
In the pure morning, near the old temple,
Where early sunlight points the tree-tops,
My path has wound, through a sheltered hollow
Of boughs and flowers, to a Buddhist retreat.
Here birds are alive with mountain-light,
And the mind of man touches peace in a pool,
And a thousand sounds are quieted
By the breathing of a temple-bell.

What can my poor

Han Yu

A POEM ON THE STONE DRUMS

Chang handed me this tracing, from the stone drums,

Beseeching me to write a poem on the stone drums.

Du Fu has gone. Li Bai is dead.

What can my poor talent do for the stone drums?

…When the Zhou power waned and China was bubbling,

Emperor Xuan, up in wrath, waved his holy spear:

And opened his Great Audience, receiving all the tributes

Of kings and lords who came to him with a tune of clanging weapons.

They held a hunt in Qiyang and proved their marksmanship:

Fallen birds and animals were strewn three thousand miles.

And the exploit was recorded, to inform new generations….

Cut out of jutting cliffs, these drums made of stone-

On which poets and artisans, all of the first order,

Had indited and chiselled-were set in the deep mountains

To be washed by rain, baked by sun, burned by wildfire,

Eyed by evil spirits; and protected by the gods.

…Where can he have found the tracing on this paper? —

True to the original, not altered by a hair,

The meaning deep, the phrases cryptic, difficult to read.

And the style of the characters neither square nor tadpole.

Time has not yet vanquished the beauty of these letters —

Looking like sharp daggers that pierce live crocodiles,

Like phoenix-mates dancing, like angels hovering down,

Like trees of jade and coral with interlocking branches,

Like golden cord and iron chain tied together tight,

Like incense-tripods flung in the sea, like dragons mounting heaven.

Historians, gathering ancient poems, forgot to gather these,

To make the two Books of Musical Song more colourful and striking;

Confucius journeyed in the west, but not to the Qin Kingdom,

He chose our planet and our stars but missed the sun and moon

I who am fond of antiquity, was born too late

And, thinking of these wonderful things, cannot hold back my tears….

I remember, when I was awarded my highest degree,

During the first year of Yuanho,

How a friend of mine, then at the western camp,

Offered to assist me in removing these old relics.

I bathed and changed, then made my plea to the college president

And urged on him the rareness of these most precious things.

They could be wrapped in rugs, be packed and sent in boxes

And carried on only a few camels: ten stone drums

To grace the Imperial Temple like the Incense-Pot of Gao —

Or their lustre and their value would increase a hundredfold,

If the monarch would present them to the university,

Where students could study them and doubtless decipher them,

And multitudes, attracted to the capital of culture

Prom all corners of the Empire, would be quick to gather.

We could scour the moss, pick out the dirt, restore the original surface,

And lodge them in a fitting and secure place for ever,

Covered by a massive building with wide eaves

Where nothing more might happen to them as it had before.

…But government officials grow fixed in their ways

And never will initiate beyond old precedent;

So herd- boys strike the drums for fire, cows polish horns on them,

With no one to handle them reverentially.

Still ageing and decaying, soon they may be effaced.

Six years I have sighed for them, chanting toward the west….

The familiar script of Wang Xizhi, beautiful though it was,

Could be had, several pages, just for a few white geese,

But now, eight dynasties after the Zhou, and all the wars over,

Why should there be nobody caring for these drums?

The Empire is at peace, the government free.

Poets again are honoured and Confucians and Mencians….

Oh, how may this petition be carried to the throne?

It needs indeed an eloquent flow, like a cataract-

But, alas, my voice has broken, in my song of the stone drums,

To a sound of supplication choked with its own tears.

The five Holy Mountains have the rank of the Three Dukes

Han Yu

STOPPING AT A TEMPLE ON HENG MOUNTAIN I

INSCRIBE THIS POEM IN THE GATE-TOWER

The five Holy Mountains have the rank of the Three Dukes.

The other four make a ring, with the Song Mountain midmost.

To this one, in the fire-ruled south, where evil signs are rife,

Heaven gave divine power, ordaining it a peer.

All the clouds and hazes are hidden in its girdle;

And its forehead is beholden only by a few.

…I came here in autumn, during the rainy season,

When the sky was overcast and the clear wind gone.

I quieted my mind and prayed, hoping for an answer;

For assuredly righteous thinking reaches to high heaven.

And soon all the mountain-peaks were showing me their faces;

I looked up at a pinnacle that held the clean blue sky:

The wide Purple-Canopy joined the Celestial Column;

The Stone Granary leapt, while the Fire God stood still.

Moved by this token, I dismounted to offer thanks.

A long path of pine and cypress led to the temple.

Its white walls and purple pillars shone, and the vivid colour

Of gods and devils filled the place with patterns of red and blue.

I climbed the steps and, bending down to sacrifice, besought

That my pure heart might be welcome, in spite of my humble offering.

The old priest professed to know the judgment of the God:

He was polite and reverent, making many bows.

He handed me divinity-cups, he showed me how to use them

And told me that my fortune was the very best of al

Though exiled to a barbarous land, mine is a happy life.

Plain food and plain clothes are all I ever wanted.

To be prince, duke, premier, general, was never my desire;

And if the God would bless me, what better could he grant than this ? —

At night I lie down to sleep in the top of a high tower;

While moon and stars glimmer through the darkness of the clouds….

Apes call, a bell sounds. And ready for dawn

I see arise, far in the east the cold bright sun.

The fine clouds have opened and the River of Stars is gone

Han Yu

ON THE FESTIVAL OF THE MOON

TO SUB-OFFICIAL ZHANG

The fine clouds have opened and the River of Stars is gone,

A clear wind blows across the sky, and the moon widens its wave,

The sand is smooth, the water still, no sound and no shadow,

As I offer you a cup of wine, asking you to sing.

But so sad is this song of yours and so bitter your voice

That before I finish listening my tears have become a rain:

“Where Lake Dongting is joined to the sky by the lofty Nine-Doubt Mountain,

Dragons, crocodiles, rise and sink, apes, flying foxes, whimper….

At a ten to one risk of death, I have reached my official post,

Where lonely I live and hushed, as though I were in hiding.

I leave my bed, afraid of snakes; I eat, fearing poisons;

The air of the lake is putrid, breathing its evil odours….

Yesterday, by the district office, the great drum was announcing

The crowning of an emperor, a change in the realm.

The edict granting pardons runs three hundred miles a day,

All those who were to die have had their sentences commuted,

The unseated are promoted and exiles are recalled,

Corruptions are abolished, clean officers appointed.

My superior sent my name in but the governor would not listen

And has only transferred me to this barbaric place.

My rank is very low and useless to refer to;

They might punish me with lashes in the dust of the street.

Most of myfellow exiles are now returning home —

A journey which, to me, is a heaven beyond climbing.”

…Stop your song, I beg you, and listen to mine,

A song that is utterly different from yours:

“Tonight is the loveliest moon of the year.

All else is with fate, not ours to control;

But, refusing this wine, may we choose more tomorrow?”

When the top of Zun is green and the summer tide is rising.

 

Yuan Jie

A DRINKING SONG AT STONE-FISH LAKE

I have used grain from the public fields, for distilling wine. After my office hours I have the wine loaded on a boat and then I seat my friends on the bank of the lake. The little wine-boats come to each of us and supply us with wine. We seem to be drinking on Pa Islet in Lake Dongting. And I write this poem.

Stone-Fish Lake is like Lake Dongting —

…With the mountain for a table, and the lake a fount of wine,

The tipplers all are settled along the sandy shore.

Though a stiff wind for days has roughened the water,

Wine-boats constantly arrive….

I have a long-necked gourd and, happy on Ba Island,

I am pouring a drink in every direction doing away with care.


Han Yu

MOUNTAIN-STONES

 

Rough were the mountain-stones, and the path very narrow;

And when I reached the temple, bats were in the dusk.

I climbed to the hall, sat on the steps, and drank the rain- washed air

Among the round gardenia-pods and huge bananaleaves.

On the old wall, said the priest, were Buddhas finely painted,

And he brought a light and showed me, and I called them wonderful

He spread the bed, dusted the mats, and made my supper ready,

And, though the food was coarse, it satisfied my hunger.

At midnight, while I lay there not hearing even an insect,

The mountain moon with her pure light entered my door….

At dawn I left the mountain and, alone, lost my way:

In and out, up and down, while a heavy mist

Made brook and mountaingreen and purple, brightening everything.

I am passing sometimes pines and oaks, which ten men could not girdle,

I am treading pebbles barefoot in swift-running water —

Its ripples purify my ear, while a soft wind blows my garments….

These are the things which, in themselves, make life happy.

Why should we be hemmed about and hampered with people?

O chosen pupils, far behind me in my own country,

What if I spent my old age here and never went back home?

An audience like mountains lost among themselves.

Du Fu

A SONG OF DAGGER-DANCING TO A GIRL-PUPIL

OF LADY GONGSUN

On the 19th of the Tenth-month in the second year of Dali, I saw, in the house of the Kueifu official Yuante, a girl named Li from Lingying dancing with a dagger. I admired her skill and asked who was her teacher. She named Lady Gongsun. I remembered that in the third year of Kaiyuan at Yancheng, when I was a little boy, I saw Lady Gongsun dance. She was the only one in the Imperial Theatre who could dance with this weapon. Now she is aged and unknown, and even her pupil has passed the heyday of beauty. I wrote this poem to express my wistfulness. The work of Zhang Xu of the Wu district, that great master of grassy writing, was improved by his having been present when Lady Gongsun danced in the Yeh district. From this may be judged the art of Gongsun.

There lived years ago the beautiful Gongsun,

Who, dancing with her dagger, drew from all four quarters

An audience like mountains lost among themselves.

Heaven and earth moved back and forth, following her motions,

Which were bright as when the Archer shot the nine suns down the sky

And rapid as angels before the wings of dragons.

She began like a thunderbolt, venting its anger,

And ended like the shining calm of rivers and the sea….

But vanished are those red lips and those pearly sleeves;

And none but this one pupil bears the perfume of her fame,

This beauty from Lingying, at the Town of the White God,

Dancing still and singing in the old blithe way.

And while we reply to each other’s questions,

We sigh together, saddened by changes that have come.

There were eight thousand ladies in the late Emperor’s court,

But none could dance the dagger-dance like Lady Gongsun.

…Fifty years have passed, like the turning of a palm;

Wind and dust, filling the world, obscure the Imperial House.

Instead of the Pear-Garden Players, who have blown by like a mist,

There are one or two girl-musicians now-trying to charm the cold Sun.

There are man-size trees by the Emperor’s Golden Tomb

I seem to hear dead grasses rattling on the cliffs of Qutang.

…The song is done, the slow string and quick pipe have ceased.

At the height of joy, sorrow comes with the eastern moon rising.

And I, a poor old man, not knowing where to go,

Must harden my feet on the lone hills, toward sickness and despair.