Above the Yangtze by Wang An-shih

A letter from long-ago shores arrives, saying
our village is tangled in sickness and hunger.

Why are they telling me, a ten-thousand-mile
wanderer, swelling my hundred-year sorrow?

No one cares about patching up ruined lives
now, and my lifework’s only turned to shame.

My sick eyes gaze off toward them. Night falls.
I trust myself to this little-boat life all adrift.

translated by David Hinton

4 thoughts on “Above the Yangtze by Wang An-shih

    • Before he began respected for his poetry, he was a liberal administrator ho brought bout many reforms in China. Unfortunately, after his retirement from public life, he saw those reforms rescinded. Knowing that, perhaps, makes those lines even more poignant. But anyone who has worked for the betterment of their world and seen their work turned to dust would feel the same way, no matter in what age or what country.

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