I decide that not my mother-in-law

I decide that not my mother-in-law

Liu Changqing
FAREWELL TO A BUDDHIST MONK
Can drifting clouds and white storks
Be tenants in this world of ours? —
Or you still live on Wuzhou Mountain,
Now that people are coming here?


Wei Yingwu
AN AUTUMN NIGHT MESSAGE TO QIU
As I walk in the cool of the autumn night,
Thinking of you, singing my poem,
I hear a mountain pine-cone fall….
You also seem to be awake.


Li Duan
ON HEARING HER PLAY THE HARP
Her hands of white jade by a window of snow
Are glimmering on a golden-fretted harp —
And to draw the quick eye of Chou Yu,
She touches a wrong note now and then.


Wang Jian
A BRIDE
On the third day, taking my place to cook,
Washing my hands to make the bridal soup,
I decide that not my mother-in-law
But my husband’s young sister shall have the fiat taste.


Quan Deyu
THE JADE DRESSING-TABLE
Last night my girdle came undone,
And this morning a luck-beetle flew over my bed.
So here are my paints and here are my powders —
And a welcome for my yoke again.


Liu Zongyuan
RIVER-SNOW
A hundred mountains and no bird,
A thousand paths without a footprint;
A little boat, a bamboo cloak,
An old man fishing in the cold river-snow.


Yuan Zhen
THE SUMMER PALACE
In the faded old imperial palace,
Peonies are red, but no one comes to see them….
The ladies-in-waiting have grown white-haired
Debating the pomps of Emperor Xuanzong.


Bai Juyi
A SUGGESTION TO MY FRIEND LIU
There’s a gleam of green in an old bottle,
There’s a stir of red in the quiet stove,
There’s a feeling of snow in the dusk outside —
What about a cup of wine inside?


Zhang Hu
SHE SINGS AN OLD SONG
A lady of the palace these twenty years,
She has lived here a thousand miles from her home-
Yet ask her for this song and, with the first few words of it,
See how she tries to hold back her tears.


 

Mountains cover the white sun,

Meng Haoran
A NIGHT-MOORING ON THE JIANDE RIVER
While my little boat moves on its mooring of mist,
And daylight wanes, old memories begin….
How wide the world was, how close the trees to heaven,
And how clear in the water the nearness of the moon!


Meng Haoran
A SPRING MORNING
I awake light-hearted this morning of spring,
Everywhere round me the singing of birds —
But now I remember the night, the storm,
And I wonder how many blossoms were broken.


Li Bai
IN THE QUIET NIGHT
So bright a gleam on the foot of my bed —
Could there have been a frost already?
Lifting myself to look, I found that it was moonlight.
Sinking back again, I thought suddenly of home.


Li Bai
A BITTER LOVE
How beautiful she looks, opening the pearly casement,
And how quiet she leans, and how troubled her brow is!
You may see the tears now, bright on her cheek,
But not the man she so bitterly loves.


Du Fu
THE EIGHT-SIDED FORTRESS
The Three Kingdoms, divided, have been bound by his greatness.
The Eight-Sided Fortress is founded on his fame;
Beside the changing river, it stands stony as his grief
That he never conquered the Kingdom of Wu.


Wang Zhihuan
AT HERON LODGE
Mountains cover the white sun,
And oceans drain the golden river;
But you widen your view three hundred miles
By going up one flight of stairs.


Liu Changqing
ON PARTING WITH THE BUDDHIST PILGRIM LING CHE
From the temple, deep in its tender bamboos,
Comes the low sound of an evening bell,
While the hat of a pilgrim carries the sunset
Farther and farther down the green mountain.


Liu Changqing
ON HEARING A LUTE-PLAYER
Your seven strings are like the voice
Of a cold wind in the pines,
Singing old beloved songs
Which no one cares for any more.

Yet how it serves to ease my heart!

Yet how it serves to ease my heart!

Li Shangyin
TO ONE UNNAMED IV
A faint phoenix-tail gauze, fragrant and doubled,
Lines your green canopy, closed for the night….
Will your shy face peer round a moon-shaped fan,
And your voice be heard hushing the rattle of my carriage?
It is quiet and quiet where your gold lamp dies,
How far can a pomegranate-blossom whisper?
…I will tether my horse to a river willow
And wait for the will of the southwest wind.


Li Shangyin
TO ONE UNNAMED V
There are many curtains in your care-free house,
Where rapture lasts the whole night long.
…What are the lives of angels but dreams
If they take no lovers into their rooms?
…Storms are ravishing the nut-horns,
Moon- dew sweetening cinnamon-leaves
I know well enough naught can come of this union,
Yet how it serves to ease my heart!


Wen Tingyun
NEAR THE LIZHOU FERRY
The sun has set in the water’s clear void,
And little blue islands are one with the sky.
On the bank a horse neighs. A boat goes by.
People gather at a willow- clump and wait for the ferry.
Down by the sand-bushes sea-gulls are circling,
Over the wide river-lands flies an egret.
…Can you guess why I sail, like an ancient wise lover,
Through the misty Five Lakes, forgetting words?


Wen Tingyun
THE TEMPLE OF SU WU
Though our envoy, Su Wu, is gone, body and soul,
This temple survives, these trees endure….
Wildgeese through the clouds are still calling to the moon there
And hill-sheep unshepherded graze along the border.
…Returning, he found his country changed
Since with youthful cap and sword he had left it.
His bitter adventures had won him no title….
Autumn-waves endlessly sob in the river.


Xue Feng
A PALACE POEM
In twelve chambers the ladies, decked for the day,
Peer afar for their lord from their Fairy-View Lodge;
The golden toad guards the lock on the door-chain,
And the bronze-dragon water-clock drips through the morning
Till one of them, tilting a mirror, combs her cloud of hair
And chooses new scent and a change of silk raiment;
For she sees, between screen-panels, deep in the palace,
Eunuchs in court-dress preparing a bed.

I face my mirror with a sigh

I face my mirror with a sigh

Cui Tu
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?


Du Xunhe
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!


Wei Zhuang
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.


Seng Jiaoran
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.


Cui Hao
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.

After the shower at Bashang

After the shower at Bashang

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!

To live as pure a life as yours

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.


 

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.

 

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.

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.