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

from On Autumn River, Along Po-ko Shores: 1 by Li Po

Where could evening wandering be so fine?
Here along Po-ko shores, the moon bright,

mountain light trembles on drifted snow,
and gibbon shadow hangs from cold branches.

Only when this exquisite light dies away,
only then I turn my oars and start back.

When I came, it was such bright clear joy.
Now, it’s all these thoughts of you again.

translated by David Hinton

Teasing Tu Fu by Li Po

Here on the summit of Fan-k’o Mountain, it’s Tu Fu
under a midday sun sporting his huge farmer’s hat.

How is it you’ve gotten so thin since we parted?
Must be all those poems you’ve been suffering over.

translated by David Hinton