from Variations on “The Weary Road”: No. 5 by Bao Zhao

Don’t you see how grass on the riverbank
in winter withers and dies, yet in spring floods the road?
Don’t you see how the sun above the walls
evaporates to nothing at dusk
yet tomorrow at dawn is reborn?
But how can we achieve that?
When dead we’re dead forever, down in Yellow Springs.
Life has lavish bitterness, is stingy with joy,
and only the young are filled with endless zeal.
So let’s just meet whenever we can
and always keep wine money ready by our beds.
Who cares for rank and fame inscribed on bamboo and silk?
Life, death, acclaim, obscurity–leave them to heaven.

translated by Tony Barnstone & Chou Ping

from Miscellaneous Poems, Poem 3 by T’ao Ch’ien

Bright blossoms seldom last long;
Life’s ups-and-downs can’t be charted.
What was a lotus flower in spring,
Is now the seed-husk of autumn.
Severe frost freezes the wild grass:
Decay has yet to finish it off.
Sun and moon come back once more,
But where I go, no sun will shine.
I look back longingly on times gone by–
Remembering the past wounds my soul.

translated by Eugene Eoyang