To Secretary Yang by Wei Ying-wu

Colleagues have scattered and gates are closed
the calling of birds fills a mountain town
our parting on the Yangtze seems so long ago
I notice the empty mat beside me
the boats on South Lake are moored because of rain
the screens at North Tower are rolled up due to wind
wine-tasting parties are canceled
I regret our time together has passed

translated by Red Pine

Untitled Poem by T’ao Ch’ien

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

The Boat-Pullers by Mei Yao-ch’en

Leg broken on the sandy shore, a goose
hobbles along like a man, wings splayed:

what will it do when evening rains come
and the cold wind starts ripping through?

Sodden feathers mud-strained, arched neck
shrinking back—it doesn’t utter a sound.

That’s their life exactly. Guess it’s better
than lugging weapons around some war.

translated by David Hinton

Thoughts as I Lie Alone by Wang An-shih

Alone, a noon dove calling in spring
shade, I lie in a valley of forest quiet.

Scraps of cloud pass, scattering rain,
and I listen, late in life, to its clatter.

Eyes full of red and green confusion,
our sad times unraveling my legacy,

there’s no word near these thoughts
still as Bell Mountain in its slumber.

translated by David Hinton