from dreaming of Li Po, Two Poems: from 1 by Tu Fu

Old friend, you appeared in a dream,
It shows you have long been in my thoughts.
Perhaps it wasn’t your living soul:
The way’s too far, it couldn’t be done.
Your spirit came: and the maples were green:
Your spirit left: the mountain pass darkened.
Friend, now that you’re ensnared down there,
How did you manage to wing away?
Moonlight shines full on the rafters,
Yet I wonder if it isn’t your reflection.
The waters are deep, the waves expansive:
Don’t let the water dragon get you!

translated by Eugene Eoyang

Winter Night by Jia Dao

I pass through winter again in travels,
the ladle empty, the pot empty as well.
Tears stream upon a cold pillow,
my tracks are gone in my former hills.
Ice forms in waters with drifting duckweed,
snow blends with the wind in ruined willows.
The cock does not announce dawn’s light,
but a few wild geese are screeching.

translated by Stephen Owen

The Inn at Niyang by Jia Dao

Why do sorrows of travel all rise together?—
at twilight I send my old friends back.
Autumn fireflies emerge from the abandoned inn,
cold rains come to the deserted city.
Evening sunlight tosses white dew in wind,
the shadows of trees sweep green moss.
I sit alone, the brooding look of someone apart
the solitary lamp does not dispel with its light.

translated by Stephen Owen

Starting Up Three Gorges by Li Po

Azure heaven pinched between Wu Mountains,
riverwater keeps streaming down like this,

and with riverwater cascading so suddenly
away, we’ll never reach that azure heaven.

Three mornings we start up Huang-niu Gorge,
and three nights find we’ve gone nowhere.

Three mornings and three nights: for once
I’ve forgotten my hair turning white as silk.

translated by David Hinton

Listening to a Monk’s Ch’in Depths by Li Po

Carrying a ch’in cased in green silk, a monk
descended from O-mei Mountain in the west.

When he plays, even in a few first notes,
I hear the pines of ten thousand valleys,

and streams rinse my wanderer’s heart clean.
Echoes linger among temple frost-fall bells,

night coming unnoticed in emerald mountains,
autumn clouds banked up, gone dark and deep.

translated by David Hinton

A Friend Stays The Night by Li Po

Rinsing sorrows of a thousand forevers
away, we linger out a hundred jars of wine,

the clear night’s clarity filling small talk,
a lucid moon keeping us awake. And after

we’re drunk, we sleep in empty mountains,
all heaven our blanket, earth our pillow.

translated by David Hinton