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

Watching the Distances by Tu Fu

I watch the limitless distance of autumn,
the far-off dark rising up in layers

where icy waters merge with the frozen sky
and the city is blurred with mist.

Last leaves are torn into flight by winds,
and sunless, distant peaks fade fast.

A lone crane flops home at dusk.
The trees are full of crows.

translated by Sam Hamill

A Night-Mooring at Wu-chang by Lu Lun

Far off in the clouds stand the walls of Han-yang,
Another day’s journey for my lone sail . . .
Though a river merchant ought to sleep in this calm weather,
I listen to the tide at night and voices of the boatman.
. . . My thin hair grows wintry, like the triple Hsiang streams,
Three thousand miles my heart goes, homesick with the moon;
But the war has left me nothing of my heritage—
And oh, the pangs of hearing these drums along the river!

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu

A Farewell to Li Tuan by Lu Lun

By the old gate, among yellow grasses;
Still we linger, sick at heart.
The way you must follow through cold clouds
Will lead you this evening into snow.
Your father died; you left home young;
Nobody knew of your misfortunes.
We cry, we say nothing. What can I wish you
In this blowing wintry world?

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu