After Lunch by Po Chü-i

After eating lunch, I feel so sleepy.
Waking later, I sip two bowls of tea,

then notice shadows aslant, the sun
already low in the southwest again.

Joyful people resent fleeting days.
Sad ones can’t bear the slow years.

It’s those with no joy and no sorrow—
they trust whatever this life brings.

translated by David Hinton

Early Autumn by Po Chü-i

Two grey hairs appear in the lit mirror,
a single leaf tumbling into the courtyard.

Old age slips away, nothing to do with me,
and when grief comes, who does it find?

Idle months and years emptying away,
loved ones from long ago lost to sight.

I’ll play with my girl here, my little girl:
we keep coaxing smiles from each other.

translated by David Hinton

The Pa River by Po Chü-i

Below the city, where the Pa River’s water flows,
spring comes like yeast-powder spiriting wine:

beaches feel soft as the Wei’s meandering shores,
and cliffs bring memories of T’ien-chin Bridge,

but fresh yellow willows dip their shadows here,
and tiny white duckweed blossoms scent the air.

Sitting beside swelling water, I scratch my head:
all this grief and sorrow, and whose is it anyway?

translated by David Hinton

Looking through old photos, this poem of Po Chü-i came to mind: Pouring Out My Feelings after Parting from Yüan Chen by Po Chü-i

Drip drip, the rain on paulownia leaves;
softly sighing, the wind in the mallow flowers.
Sad sad the early autumn thoughts
that come to me in my dark solitude.
How much more so when I part from an old friend–
no delight then in my musings.
Don’t say I didn’t see you off–
in heart I went as far as the Green Gate and beyond.
With friends, it’s not how many you have
but only whether they share your heart or not.
One who shares my heart has gone away
and I learn how empty Ch’ang-an can be.

translated by Burton Watson