Empty House by Yuan Chen

I leave my empty house at dawn
and ride to my empty office.

I fill the day with busywork.
At nightfall, back to my empty house.

Moonlght seeps through the cracks.
My wick has burned to ash.

My heart lies cold inHsien-yang Road,
under the wheels of a hearse.

translated by Sam Hamill

Reading Books by Liu Tsung-yuan

Living in obscurity I’ve given up current affairs
I bow my head in silence and reflect on the sage kings
the highs and lows of the ancient past
the ups and downs of countless paths
I laugh to myself when I’m pleased
when I’m sad I simply sigh
I take my books from their cases
I go through from front to back
despite the affliction of tropical diseases
I feel different than in the past
while reading I suddenly understand
when I’m done my mind is a blank
who can I talk with at night
if not these texts on bamboo and silk
I lie down when I get tired
after a good sleep I feel refreshed
I yawn and stretch my limbs
I read out loud to my heart’s content
I enjoy doing what suits me
not to please learned men
I shut up when I’ve said what I want
free of restraints I relax
the clever consider me stupid
the wise think I’m a fool
but reading has managed to make me happy
what good is working till you drop
cherish this body of yours
don’t use it to chase after fame

translated by Red Pine

ALONG THE ROAD PAST SHANGSHAN THERE WAS A LONE PINE TO WHICH SOMEONE TOOK AN AXE FOR MORE LIGHT. A KIND PERSON TOOK PITY AND BUILT A BAMBOO FENCE AROUND WHAT REMAINED, AND IT RESPONDED WITH NEW GROWTH. MOVED, I WROTE THIS POEM by Liu Tsung-yuan

A lone pine shaded a rest stop with green
putting down roots beside a dirt road
it didn’t need to guard against the heights
it was injured for the sake of more light
luckily a kindhearted person came along
surrounding it with a fence
part of its heart survived
enough to feel the rain and dew

translated by Red Pine