Tune: “The Beautiful Lady Yu” by Li Yü

When will the last flower fall, the last moon fade?
So many sorrows lie behind.
Again last night the east wind filled my room—
O gaze not on the lost kingdom under the bright moon.

Still in her light my palace gleams as jade
(Only from bright cheeks beauty dies).
To know the sum of human suffering
Look at this river rolling eastward in the spring.

translated by Cyril Birch

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