THE HARD ROAD
Pure wine costs, for the golden cup, ten thousand coppers a flagon,
And a jade plate of dainty food calls for a million coins.
I fling aside my food-sticks and cup, I cannot eat nor drink....
I pull out my dagger, I peer four ways in vain.
I would cross the Yellow River, but ice chokes the ferry；
I would climb the Taihang Mountains, but the sky is blind with snow....
I would sit and poise a fishing-pole, lazy by a brook ——
But I suddenly dream of riding a boat, sailing for the sun....
Journeying is hard,
Journeying is hard.
There are many turnings ——
Which am I to follow?....
I will mount a long wind some day and break the heavy waves
And set my cloudy sail straight and bridge the deep, deep sea.
HARD IS THE WAY OF THE WORLD II
The way is broad like the blue sky,
But no way out before my eye.
I am ashamed to follow those who have no guts,
Gambling on fighting cocks and dogs for pears and nuts.
Feng would go homeward way, having no fish to eat；
Zhou did not think to bow to noblemen was meet.
General Han was mocked in the market-place；
The brilliant scholar Jia was banished in disgrace.
Have you not heard of King of Yan in days gone by,
Who venerated talents and built Terrace high
On which he offered gold to gifted men
And stooped low and swept the floor to welcome them?
Grateful, Ju Xin and Yue Yi came then
And served him heart and soul, both full of stratagem.
The King’s bones were now buried,
who would sweep the floor of the Gold Terrace any more?
Hard is the way.
Go back without delay!
HARD IS THE WAY OF THE WORLD III
Don’t wash your ears on hearing something you dislike
Nor die of hunger like famous hermits on the Pike!
Living without a fame among the motley crowd,
Why should one be as lofty as the moon or cloud?
Of ancient talents who failed to retire, there’s none
But came to tragic ending after glory’s won.
The head of General Wu was hung o’er city gate；
In the river was drowned the poet laureate.
The highly talented scholar wished in vain
To preserve his life to hear the cry of the crane.
Minister Li regretted not to have retired
To hunt with falcon gray as he had long desired.
Have you not heard of Zhang Han who resigned, carefree,
To go home to eat his perch with high glee?
Enjoy a cup of wine while you’re alive!
Do not care if your fame will not survive!
BRINGING IN THE WINE
See how the Yellow River’s waters move out of heaven.
Entering the ocean, never to return.
See how lovely locks in bright mirrors in high chambers,
Though silken-black at morning, have changed by night to snow.
...Oh, let a man of spirit venture where he pleases
And never tip his golden cup empty toward the moon!
Since heaven gave the talent, let it be employed!
Spin a thousand pieces of silver, all of them come back!
Cook a sheep, kill a cow, whet the appetite,
And make me, of three hundred bowls, one long drink!
...To the old master, Cen,
And the young scholar, Danqiu,
Bring in the wine!
Let your cups never rest!
Let me sing you a song!
Let your ears attend!
What are bell and drum, rare dishes and treasure?
Let me be forever drunk and never come to reason!
Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten,
And only the great drinkers are famous for all time.
...Prince Chen paid at a banquet in the Palace of Perfection
Ten thousand coins for a cask of wine, with many a laugh and quip.
Why say, my host, that your money is gone?
Go and buy wine and we’ll drink it together!
My flower-dappled horse,
My furs worth a thousand,
Hand them to the boy to exchange for good wine,
And we’ll drown away the woes of ten thousand generations!
A SONG OF WAR-CHARIOTS
The war-chariots rattle,
The war-horses whinny.
Each man of you has a bow and a quiver at his belt.
Father, mother, son, wife, stare at you going,
Till dust shall have buried the bridge beyond Changan.
They run with you, crying, they tug at your sleeves,
And the sound of their sorrow goes up to the clouds；
And every time a bystander asks you a question,
You can only say to him that you have to go.
...We remember others at fifteen sent north to guard the river
And at forty sent west to cultivate the campfarms.
The mayor wound their turbans for them when they started out.
With their turbaned hair white now, they are still at the border,
At the border where the blood of men spills like the sea ——
And still the heart of Emperor Wu is beating for war.
...Do you know that, east of China’s mountains, in two hundred districts
And in thousands of villages, nothing grows but weeds,
And though strong women have bent to the ploughing,
East and west the furrows all are broken down?
...Men of China are able to face the stiffest battle,
But their officers drive them like chickens and dogs.
Whatever is asked of them,
Dare they complain?
For example, this winter
Held west of the gate,
Challenged for taxes,
How could they pay?
...We have learned that to have a son is bad luck-
It is very much better to have a daughter
Who can marry and live in the house of a neighbour,
While under the sod we bury our boys.
...Go to the Blue Sea, look along the shore
At all the old white bones forsaken ——
New ghosts are wailing there now with the old,
Loudest in the dark sky of a stormy day.
A SONG OF FAIR WOMEN
On the third day of the Third-month in the freshening weather
Many beauties take the air by the Changan waterfront,
Receptive, aloof, sweet-mannered, sincere,
With soft fine skin and well-balanced bone.
Their embroidered silk robes in the spring sun are gleaming ——
With a mass of golden peacocks and silver unicorns.
And hanging far down from their temples
Are blue leaves of delicate kingfisher feathers.
And following behind them
Is a pearl-laden train, rhythmic with bearers.
Some of them are kindred to the Royal House ——
The titled Princesses Guo and Qin.
Red camel-humps are brought them from jade broilers,
And sweet fish is ordered them on crystal trays.
Though their food-sticks of unicorn-horn are lifted languidly
And the finely wrought phoenix carving-knife is very little used,
Fleet horses from the Yellow Gate, stirring no dust,
Bring precious dishes constantly from the imperial kitchen.
...While a solemn sound of flutes and drums invokes gods and spirits,
Guests and courtiers gather, all of high rank；
And finally, riding slow, a dignified horseman
Dismounts at the pavilion on an embroidered rug.
In a snow of flying willow-cotton whitening the duckweed,
Bluebirds find their way with vermilion handkerchiefs ——
But power can be as hot as flame and burn people’s fingers.
Be wary of the Premier, watch for his frown.
A SONG OF SOBBING BY THE RIVER
I am only an old woodsman, whispering a sob,
As I steal like a spring-shadow down the Winding River.
...Since the palaces ashore are sealed by a thousand gates ——
Fine willows, new rushes, for whom are you so green?
...I remember a cloud of flags that came from the South Garden,
And ten thousand colours, heightening one another,
And the Kingdom’s first Lady, from the Palace of the Bright Sun,
Attendant on the Emperor in his royal chariot,
And the horsemen before them, each with bow and arrows,
And the snowy horses, champing at bits of yellow gold,
And an archer, breast skyward, shooting through the clouds
And felling with one dart a pair of flying birds.
...Where are those perfect eyes, where are those pearly teeth?
A blood-stained spirit has no home, has nowhere to return.
And clear Wei waters running east, through the cleft on Dagger- Tower Trail,
Carry neither there nor here any news of her.
People, compassionate, are wishing with tears
That she were as eternal as the river and the flowers.
...Mounted Tartars, in the yellow twilight, cloud the town with dust.
I am fleeing south, but I linger-gazing northward toward the throne.
A SONG OF A PRINCE DEPOSED
Along the wall of the Capital a white-headed crow
Flies to the Gate where Autumn Enters and screams there in the night,
Then turns again and pecks among the roofs of a tall mansion
Whose lord, a mighty mandarin, has fled before the Tartars,
With his golden whip now broken, his nine war-horses dead
And his own flesh and bone scattered to the winds....
There’s a rare ring of green coral underneath the vest
Of a Prince at a street-corner, bitterly sobbing,
Who has to give a false name to anyone who asks him-
Just a poor fellow, hoping for employment.
A hundred days’ hiding in grasses and thorns
Show on his body from head to foot.
But, since their first Emperor, all with hooknoses,
These Dragons look different from ordinary men.
Wolves are in the palace now and Dragons are lost in the desert ——
O Prince, be very careful of your most sacred person!
I dare not address you long, here by the open road,
Nor even to stand beside you for more than these few moments.
Last night with the spring-wind there came a smell of blood；
The old Capital is full of camels from the east.
Our northern warriors are sound enough of body and of hand ——
Oh, why so brave in olden times and so craven now?
Our Emperor, we hear, has given his son the throne
And the southern border-chieftains are loyally inclined
And the Huamen and Limian tribes are gathering to avenge us.
But still be careful-keep yourself well hidden from the dagger.
Unhappy Prince, I beg you, be constantly on guard ——
Till power blow to your aid from the Five Imperial Tombs.
I PASS THROUGH THE LU DUKEDOM
WITH A SIGH AND A SACRIFICE FOR CONFUCIUS
O Master, how did the world repay
Your life of long solicitude? ——
The Lords of Zou have misprized your land,
And your home has been used as the palace of Lu....
You foretold that when phoenixes vanished, your fortunes too would end,
You knew that the captured unicorn would be a sign of the dose of your teaching....
Can this sacrifice I watch, here between two temple pillars,
Be the selfsame omen of death you dreamed of long ago?
LOOKING AT THE MOON
AND THINKING OF ONE FAR AWAY
The moon, grown full now over the sea,
Brightening the whole of heaven,
Brings to separated hearts
The long thoughtfulness of night....
It is no darker though I blow out my candle.
It is no warmer though I put on my coat.
So I leave my message with the moon
And turn to my bed, hoping for dreams.
FAREWELL TO VICE-PREFECT DU
SETTING OUT FOR HIS OFFICIAL POST IN SHU
By this wall that surrounds the three Qin districts,
Through a mist that makes five rivers one,
We bid each other a sad farewell,
We two officials going opposite ways....
And yet, while China holds our friendship,
And heaven remains our neighbourhood,
Why should you linger at the fork of the road,
Wiping your eyes like a heart-broken child?
余禁所禁垣西，是法厅事也。有古槐数株焉，虽生 意可知，同殷仲文之古树，而听讼斯在，即周召伯 之甘棠。每至夕照低阴，秋蝉疏引，发声幽息，有 切尝闻；岂人心异于曩时，将虫响悲于前听？嗟乎 ！声以动容，德以象贤，故洁其身也，禀君子达人 之高行；蜕其皮也，有仙都羽化之灵姿。候时而来 ，顺阴阳之数；应节为变，审藏用之机。有目斯开 ，不以道昏而昧其视；有翼自薄，不以俗厚而易其 真。吟乔树之微风，韵资天纵；饮高秋之坠露，清 畏人知。仆失路艰虞，遭时徽纆，不哀伤而自怨， 未摇落而先衰。闻蟪蛄之流声，悟平反之已奏；见 螳螂之抱影，怯危机之未安。感而缀诗，贻诸知己 。庶情沿物应，哀弱羽之飘零；道寄人知，悯余声 之寂寞。非谓文墨，取代幽忧云尔。
A POLITICAL PRISONER LISTENING TO A CICADA
While the year sinks westward, I hear a cicada
Bid me to be resolute here in my cell,
Yet it needed the song of those black wings
To break a white-haired prisoner’s heart....
His flight is heavy through the fog,
His pure voice drowns in the windy world.
Who knows if he be singing still? - -
Who listens any more to me?
ON A WALK IN THE EARLY SPRING
HARMONIZING A POEM BY MY FRIEND LU
STATIONED AT CHANGZHOU
Only to wanderers can come
Ever new the shock of beauty,
Of white cloud and red cloud dawning from the sea,
Of spring in the wild-plum and river-willow....
I watch a yellow oriole dart in the warm air,
And a green water- plant reflected by the sun.
Suddenly an old song fills
My heart with home, my eyes with tears.
Against the City of the Yellow Dragon
Our troops were sent long years ago,
And girls here watch the same melancholy moon
That lights our Chinese warriors ——
And young wives dream a dream of spring,
That last night their heroic husbands,
In a great attack, with flags and drums,
Captured the City of the Yellow Dragon.
INSCRIBED ON THE WALL OF AN INN
NORTH OF DAYU MOUNTAIN
They say that wildgeese, flying southward,
Here turn back, this very month....
Shall my own southward journey
Ever be retraced, I wonder?
...The river is pausing at ebb-tide,
And the woods are thick with clinging mist ——
But tomorrow morning, over the mountain,
Dawn will be white with the plum-trees of home.
A MOORING UNDER NORTH FORT HILL
Under blue mountains we wound our way,
My boat and 1, along green water；
Until the banks at low tide widened,
With no wind stirring my lone sail.
...Night now yields to a sea of sun,
And the old year melts in freshets.
At last I can send my messengers ——
Wildgeese, homing to Loyang.