for a dancer: Rachel’s poem

there she is
that sassy girl
changing hearts
changing minds
dancing her way
through life
the studio the club the street
her stage
all eyes on her
covet her
but in the depth
of night
she only dances
for one
only allows him
to see her soul

Recruiting Officer of Shih-hao by Tu Fu

At dusk I sought lodging at Shih-hao village,
When a recruiting officer came to seize men at night.
An old man scaled the wall and fled,
His old wife came out to answer the door.

How furious was the officer’s shout!
How pitiable was the woman’s cry!
I listened as she stepped forward to speak:
“All my three sons have left for garrison duty at Yeh;
From one of them a letter just arrived,
Saying my two sons had newly died in battle.
Survivors can manage to live on,
But the dead are gone forever.
Now there’s no other man in the house,
Only a grandchild at his mother’s breast.
THe child’s mother has gone away;
She has only a tattered skirt to wear.
An old woman I am feeble and weak,
But I will gladly leave with you tonight
To answer the urgent call at Ho-yang–
I can still cook morning gruel for your men.”

The night drew on, but talking stopped;
It seemed I heard only half-concealed sobs.
As I got back on the road at daybreak,
Only the old man was there to see me off.

translated by Irving Y. Lo

They Fought South of the Walls by an anonymous Chinese poet 3rd Century B.C.

They fought south of the walls
They died north of the ramparts.
Lying dead in the open, they won’t be buried,
the crows may eat them.

Tell the crows for me:
Please enjoy a sumptuous meal!
Lying dead in the open, they surely won’t be buried.
How can their rotting flesh get away from you!

The water runs deep and clear,
The rushes and reeds are dark.
The brave war steeds have died in battle,
The worthless nags neigh, running hither and thither.

The bridges have be made into buildings,
How can one go south?
How can one go north?
The grain is not harvested, how shall our lord eat?
And we who want to be loyal vassals, how can we succeed?

I think of you, fine vassals.
Fine vassals, indeed one should think of you.
In the morning you went out to attack,
In the evening you didn’t come back for the night.

translated by Hans H. Frankel

from The Book of Songs: How Few of Us Are Left

How few of us are left, how few!
Why do we not go back?
Were it not for our prince and his concerns,
What should we be doing here in the dew?

How few of us are left, how few!
Why do we not go back?
Were it not for our prince’s own concerns,
What should we be doing here in the mud?

translated by Arthur Waley

I Pass The Night At General Headquarters by Tu Fu

A clear night in harvest time.
In the courtyard at headquarters
The wu-tung tree grows cold.
In the city by the river
I wake alone by a guttering
Candle. All night long bugle
Calls disturb my thoughts. The splendor
Of the moonlight floods the sky.
Who bothers to look at it?
Whirlwinds of dust, I cannot write.
The frontier pass is unguarded.
It is dangerous to travel.
Ten years wandering, sick at heart.
I perch here like a bird on a
Twig, thankful for a moment’s peace.

translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Night in the House by the River by Tu Fu

It is late in the year;
Yin and Yang struggle
In the brief sunlight.
On the desert mountains
Frost and snow
Gleam in the freezing night.
Past midnight,
Drums and bugles ring out,
Violent, cutting the heart.
Over the Triple Gorge the Milky Way
Pulsates between the stars.
The bitter cries of thousands of households
Can be heard above the noise of battle.
Everywhere the workers sing wild songs.
The great heroes and generals of old time
Are yellow dust forever now.
Such are the affairs of men.
Poetry and letters
Persist in silence and solitude.

translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Moon Festival by Tu Fu

The Autumn constellations
Begin to rise. The brilliant
Moonlight shines on the crowds.
The moon toad swims in the river
And does not drown. The moon rabbit
Pounds the bitter herbs of the
Elixir of eternal life.
His drug only makes my heart
More bitter. The silver brilliance
Only makes my hair more white.
I know that the country is
Overrun with war. The moonlight
Means nothing to the soldiers
Camped in the western deserts.

translated by Kenneth Rexroth