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

Lamenting Revenue Manager Liu Fen by Li Shang-yin

Dwelling apart, the star-signs changed,
hope lost, the living divided from the dead.
The last cinnamon dries in the apple jug,
old rue grows cold on the bookslips.
River winds keen, blowing wild geese,
mountain trees’ sunset glow, bearing cicades.
I shout once, my head turns a thousand times,
but Heaven is high and will not hear me.

translatedby Stephen Owen

Winter Night by Jia Dao

I pass through winter again in travels,
the ladle empty, the pot empty as well.
Tears stream upon a cold pillow,
my tracks are gone in my former hills.
Ice forms in waters with drifting duckweed,
snow blends with the wind in ruined willows.
The cock does not announce dawn’s light,
but a few wild geese are screeching.

translated by Stephen Owen

The Inn at Niyang by Jia Dao

Why do sorrows of travel all rise together?—
at twilight I send my old friends back.
Autumn fireflies emerge from the abandoned inn,
cold rains come to the deserted city.
Evening sunlight tosses white dew in wind,
the shadows of trees sweep green moss.
I sit alone, the brooding look of someone apart
the solitary lamp does not dispel with its light.

translated by Stephen Owen

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