Spring only brings me grief and fatigue
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!
I challenge what may come
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?
I face my mirror with a sigh
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.