Running from Trouble by Tu Fu

Barely fifty, but already my face is old, hair white.
I traveled this whole coast fleeing the state.

Rough cloth saved my shivering bones
as I roamed the awful cold.

Thus began the years of my disease.
Everywhere, people were mud and ash.

Between heaven and earth,
there’s nowhere a body is safe.

I see my wife and children follow.
We sigh for mutual sorrows.

My old home gone to weeds,
and all my neighbors scattered,

we may never find the road back home.
We add our tears to the river.

translated by Sam Hamill

Drinking Wine by Liu Tsung-yuan

Feeling less than happy this morning
I got up and opened a fresh jug
Lifting my cup I thanked the wine gods
for this gift to chase away cares
a moment later I felt different
suddenly the whole world was fine
the gloom disappeared from the mountains
the warmth of the sky filled the river
at the town’s overgrown South Rampart
trees formed a canopy of leaves
the cool shade provided welcome relief
we heard fine words here last night
once we were drunk we stopped talking
we stretched out on sweet-smelling grass
the wealthiest men in the past
surely possessed nothing like this

translated by Red Pine

River Flute by Po Chu-i

Downriver, someone plays
a bamboo flute at midnight.

Note by note, I’m transported
back into my youth at home.

Listening, I feel my thin hair
quickly turning white:

still growing old, still
sleepless, still alone.

translated by Sam Hamill