Shijo 2270 by U T’ak

In one hand I grabbed a bramble,
in the other a stick:
the bramble to block the advance of age, the stick to stay approaching white hair.
White hair, though,
outwitted me: it took a shortcut here.

translated by Kevin O’Rourke

Old now, tangled by Wang An-shih

Old now, tangled  in human form, I’m done trusting wisdom.
Knowledge in ruins, I’ll follow farmland elders, live out my

hundred years like a child. What else could carry me clear
through, heal all these failures hacking and scarring my face?

translated by David Hinton

Cut Flowers by Wang An-shih

Getting this old isn’t much fun,
and it’s worse stuck in bed, sick.

I draw water and arrange flowers,
comforted by their scents adrift,

scents adrift, gone in a moment.
And how much longer for me?

Cut flowers and this long-ago I:
it’s so easy forgetting each other.

translated by David Hinton

untitled poem by T’ao Chien

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