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

from Wandering at Hsieh Creek by T’ao Ch’ien

This new year makes it fifty suddenly
gone. Thinking of life’s steady return

to rest cuts deep, driving me to spend
all morning wandering. And now, air

fresh and sky clear, I sit with friends
beside a stream flowing far away. Here,

striped bream weave the gentle current,
and calling, gulls rise over the lazy

valley. Eyes wandering distant waters,
straining, I make out Tseng Hill: it’s

meager compared to K’un-lun’s majestic
peaks, but nothing in sight rivals it.

Taking the winejar, I pour out a round,
and we start offering brimful toasts.

Who knows where today leads, or whether
things will ever be like this again?

After a few cups, my heart’s far away,
and I’ve forgotten thousand-year sorrows:

ranging to the limit of this morning’s
joy, it isn’t tomorrow I’m looking for.

translated by David Hinton