Untitled Poem by T’ao Ch’ien

Days and months never take their time.
The four seasons keep bustling each other

away. Cold winds churn lifeless branches.
Fallen leaves cover long paths. We’re frail,

crumbling more with each turning year.
Our temples turn white early, and once

your hair flaunts that bleached streamer,
the road ahead starts closing steadily in.

This house is an inn awaiting travelers,
and I yet another guest leaving. All this

leaving and leaving—where will I ever
end up? My old home’s on South Mountain.

translated by David Hinton

Not weak by nature, but still there are lines here, and a sentiment, I cannot help but relate to and admire: Poem without a Category, No. 7 by T’ao Yüan-ming

Sun and moon refuse to slow their pace;
the four seasons press and hurry each other onward.
Cold wind shakes the bare branches,
fallen leaves blanket the long lane.
Weak by nature, I feel myself decay with time’s passing,
the black hair at my temples already turned white.
Flecks of gray find their way into my head,
signs that the road ahead wll grow more and more narrow.
What is a house but an inn on a journey,
and I a traveler who must keep moving on?
Move on, move on–and where will I go?
My old home  is there on the southern mountain.

translated  by Burton Watson2

Presented in a Farewell to Secretary Fu by Pao Chao

The nimble swan plays in the river pool;
The lonely goose comes to roost on the island sand bar.
For a while by chance the two of us were close,
In thought and feeling together without a break.
Wind and rain blew us apart, east and west;
Once parted we drifted for ten thousand leagues.
I pursue my memories of the times we stayed together,
Your voice and appearance fill my mind and ears.
As the sun falls, the river isles grow cold;
Mournful clouds rise and enfold the heavens.
These short wings cannot soar aloft;
And hesitate here amid the mist and fog.

translated by Daniel Bryant