Dip among doorways of the poor.

Liu Fangping
A MOONLIGHT NIGHT
When the moon has coloured half the house,
With the North Star at its height and the South Star setting,
I can fed the first motions of the warm air of spring
In the singing of an insect at my green-silk window.


Liu Fangping
SPRING HEART-BREAK
With twilight passing her silken window,
She weeps alone in her chamber of gold
For spring is departing from a desolate garden,
And a drift of pear-petals is closing a door.


Liu Zhongyong
A TROOPER’S BURDEN
For years, to guard the Jade Pass and the River of Gold,
With our hands on our horse-whips and our swordhilts,
We have watched the green graves change to snow
And the Yellow Stream ring the Black Mountain forever.


Gu Kuang
A PALACE POEM
High above, from a jade chamber, songs float half-way to heaven,
The palace-girls’ gay voices are mingled with the wind —
But now they are still, and you hear a water-clock drip in the Court of the Moon….
They have opened the curtain wide, they are facing the River of Stars.


Li Yi
ON HEARING A FLUTE AT NIGHT
FROM THE WALL OF SHOUXIANG
The sand below the border-mountain lies like snow,
And the moon like frost beyond the city-wall,
And someone somewhere, playing a flute,
Has made the soldiers homesick all night long.


Liu Yuxi
BLACKTAIL ROW
Grass has run wild now by the Bridge of Red-Birds;
And swallows’ wings, at sunset, in Blacktail Row
Where once they visited great homes,
Dip among doorways of the poor.


Liu Yuxi
A SPRING SONG
In gala robes she comes down from her chamber
Into her courtyard, enclosure of spring….
When she tries from the centre to count the flowers,
On her hairpin of jade a dragon-fly poises.


Bai Juyi
A SONG OF THE PALACE
Her tears are spent, but no dreams come.
She can hear the others singing through the night.
She has lost his love. Alone with her beauty,
She leans till dawn on her incense-pillow.

Let bugles cry our victory!

Lu Lun
BORDER-SONGS II
The woods are black and a wind assails the grasses,
Yet the general tries night archery —
And next morning he finds his white-plumed arrow
Pointed deep in the hard rock.


Lu Lun
BORDER-SONGS III
High in the faint moonlight, wildgeese are soaring.
Tartar chieftains are fleeing through the dark —
And we chase them, with horses lightly burdened
And a burden of snow on our bows and our swords.


Lu Lun
BORDER-SONGS IV
Let feasting begin in the wild camp!
Let bugles cry our victory!
Let us drink, let us dance in our golden armour!
Let us thunder on rivers and hills with our drums!


Li Yi
A SONG OF THE SOUTHERN RIVER
Since I married the merchant of Qutang
He has failed each day to keep his word….
Had I thought how regular the tide is,
I might rather have chosen a river-boy.


He Zhizhang
COMING HOME
I left home young. I return old;
Speaking as then, but with hair grown thin;
And my children, meeting me, do not know me.
They smile and say: “Stranger, where do you come from?”


Zhang Xu
PEACH-BLOSSOM RIVER
A bridge flies away through a wild mist,
Yet here are the rocks and the fisherman’s boat.
Oh, if only this river of floating peach-petals
Might lead me at last to the mythical cave!


Wang Wei
ON THE MOUNTAIN HOLIDAY
THINKING OF MY BROTHERS IN SHANDONG
All alone in a foreign land,
I am twice as homesick on this day
When brothers carry dogwood up the mountain,
Each of them a branch-and my branch missing.


Wang Changling
AT HIBISCUS INN
PARTING WITH XIN JIAN
With this cold night-rain hiding the river, you have come into Wu.
In the level dawn, all alone, you will be starting for the mountains of Chu.
Answer, if they ask of me at Loyang:
One-hearted as ice in a crystal vase.


 

Has come and gone before I knew.

Bai Juyi
TO MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS ADRIFT
IN TROUBLED TIMES THIS POEM OF THE MOON
Since the disorders in Henan and the famine in Guannei, my brothers and sisters have been scattered. Looking at the moon, I express my thoughts in this poem, which I send to my eldest brother at Fuliang, my seventh brother at Yuqian, My fifteen brother at Wujiang and my younger brothers and sisters at Fuli and Xiagui.
My heritage lost through disorder and famine,
My brothers and sisters flung eastward and westward,
My fields and gardens wrecked by the war,
My own flesh and blood become scum of the street,
I moan to my shadow like a lone-wandering wildgoose,
I am torn from my root like a water-plant in autumn:
I gaze at the moon, and my tears run down
For hearts, in five places, all sick with one wish.


Li Shangyin
THE INLAID HARP
I wonder why my inlaid harp has fifty strings,
Each with its flower-like fret an interval of youth.
…The sage Chuangzi is day-dreaming, bewitched by butterflies,
The spring-heart of Emperor Wang is crying in a cuckoo,
Mermen weep their pearly tears down a moon-green sea,
Blue fields are breathing their jade to the sun….
And a moment that ought to have lasted for ever
Has come and gone before I knew.


Li Shangyin
TO ONE UNNAMED
The stars of last night and the wind of last night
Are west of the Painted Chamber and east of Cinnamon Hall.
…Though I have for my body no wings like those of the bright- coloured phoenix,
Yet I feel the harmonious heart-beat of the Sacred Unicorn.
Across the spring-wine, while it warms me, I prompt you how to bet
Where, group by group, we are throwing dice in the light of a crimson lamp;
Till the rolling of a drum, alas, calls me to my duties
And I mount my horse and ride away, like a water-plant cut adrift.


Li Shangyin
THE PALACE OF THE SUI EMPEROR
His Palace of Purple Spring has been taken by mist and cloud,
As he would have taken all Yangzhou to be his private domain
But for the seal of imperial jade being seized by the first Tang Emperor,
He would have bounded with his silken sails the limits of the world.
Fire-flies are gone now, have left the weathered grasses,
But still among the weeping-willows crows perch at twilight.
…If he meets, there underground, the Later Chen Emperor,
Do you think that they will mention a Song of Courtyard Flowers?


Li Shangyin
TO ONE UNNAMED I
You said you would come, but you did not, and you left me with no other trace
Than the moonlight on your tower at the fifth-watch bell.
I cry for you forever gone, I cannot waken yet,
I try to read your hurried note, I find the ink too pale.
…Blue burns your candle in its kingfisher-feather lantern
And a sweet breath steals from your hibiscus-broidered curtain.
But far beyond my reach is the Enchanted Mountain,
And you are on the other side, ten thousand peaks away.

Wang Wei
A MESSAGE TO COMMISSIONER LI AT ZIZHOU
From ten thousand valleys the trees touch heaven;
On a thousand peaks cuckoos are calling;
And, after a night of mountain rain,
From each summit come hundreds of silken cascades.
…If girls are asked in tribute the fibre they weave,
Or farmers quarrel over taro fields,
Preside as wisely as Wenweng did….
Is fame to be only for the ancients?


Wang Wei
A VIEW OF THE HAN RIVER
With its three southern branches reaching the Chu border,
And its nine streams touching the gateway of Jing,
This river runs beyond heaven and earth,
Where the colour of mountains both is and is not.
The dwellings of men seem floating along
On ripples of the distant sky —
These beautiful days here in Xiangyang
Make drunken my old mountain heart!


Wang Wei
MY RETREAT AT MOUNT ZHONGNAN
My heart in middle age found the Way.
And I came to dwell at the foot of this mountain.
When the spirit moves, I wander alone
Amid beauty that is all for me….
I will walk till the water checks my path,
Then sit and watch the rising clouds —
And some day meet an old wood-cutter
And talk and laugh and never return.


Meng Haoran
A MESSAGE FROM LAKE DONGTIN
TO PREMIER ZHANG
Here in the Eighth-month the waters of the lake
Are of a single air with heaven,
And a mist from the Yun and Meng valleys
Has beleaguered the city of Youzhou.
I should like to cross, but I can find no boat.
…How ashamed I am to be idler than you statesmen,
As I sit here and watch a fisherman casting
And emptily envy him his catch.


Meng Haoran
ON CLIMBING YAN MOUNTAIN WITH FRIENDS
While worldly matters take their turn,
Ancient, modern, to and fro,
Rivers and mountains are changeless in their glory
And still to be witnessed from this trail.
Where a fisher-boat dips by a waterfall,
Where the air grows colder, deep in the valley,
The monument of Yang remains;
And we have wept, reading the words.


 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.