Cen Can A MESSAGE TO CENSOR Du Fu AT HIS OFFICE IN THE LEFT COURT Together we officials climbed vermilion steps, To be parted by the purple walls…. Our procession, which entered the palace at dawn, Leaves fragrant now at dusk with imperial incense. …Grey heads may grieve for a fallen flower, Or blue clouds envy a lilting bird; But this reign is of heaven, nothing goes wrong, There have been almost no petitions. Li Bai A MESSAGE TO MENG HAORAN Master, I hail you from my heart, And your fame arisen to the skies…. Renouncing in ruddy youth the importance of hat and chariot,Read More →

Du Shenyan 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. Shen Quanqi LINES Against the City of the Yellow Dragon Our troops were sent long years ago, And girls here watch the same melancholy moon ThatRead More →

Han Yu A POEM ON THE STONE DRUMS Chang handed me this tracing, from the stone drums, Beseeching me to write a poem on the stone drums. Du Fu has gone. Li Bai is dead. What can my poor talent do for the stone drums? …When the Zhou power waned and China was bubbling, Emperor Xuan, up in wrath, waved his holy spear: And opened his Great Audience, receiving all the tributes Of kings and lords who came to him with a tune of clanging weapons. They held a hunt in Qiyang and proved their marksmanship: Fallen birds and animals were strewn three thousand miles.Read More →

Han Yu STOPPING AT A TEMPLE ON HENG MOUNTAIN I INSCRIBE THIS POEM IN THE GATE-TOWER The five Holy Mountains have the rank of the Three Dukes. The other four make a ring, with the Song Mountain midmost. To this one, in the fire-ruled south, where evil signs are rife, Heaven gave divine power, ordaining it a peer. All the clouds and hazes are hidden in its girdle; And its forehead is beholden only by a few. …I came here in autumn, during the rainy season, When the sky was overcast and the clear wind gone. I quieted my mind and prayed, hoping for anRead More →

Han Yu ON THE FESTIVAL OF THE MOON TO SUB-OFFICIAL ZHANG The fine clouds have opened and the River of Stars is gone, A clear wind blows across the sky, and the moon widens its wave, The sand is smooth, the water still, no sound and no shadow, As I offer you a cup of wine, asking you to sing. But so sad is this song of yours and so bitter your voice That before I finish listening my tears have become a rain: “Where Lake Dongting is joined to the sky by the lofty Nine-Doubt Mountain, Dragons, crocodiles, rise and sink, apes, flying foxes,Read More →

  Yuan Jie A DRINKING SONG AT STONE-FISH LAKE I have used grain from the public fields, for distilling wine. After my office hours I have the wine loaded on a boat and then I seat my friends on the bank of the lake. The little wine-boats come to each of us and supply us with wine. We seem to be drinking on Pa Islet in Lake Dongting. And I write this poem. Stone-Fish Lake is like Lake Dongting — …With the mountain for a table, and the lake a fount of wine, The tipplers all are settled along the sandy shore. Though a stiffRead More →

Du Fu A SONG OF DAGGER-DANCING TO A GIRL-PUPIL OF LADY GONGSUN On the 19th of the Tenth-month in the second year of Dali, I saw, in the house of the Kueifu official Yuante, a girl named Li from Lingying dancing with a dagger. I admired her skill and asked who was her teacher. She named Lady Gongsun. I remembered that in the third year of Kaiyuan at Yancheng, when I was a little boy, I saw Lady Gongsun dance. She was the only one in the Imperial Theatre who could dance with this weapon. Now she is aged and unknown, and even her pupilRead More →

Du Fu A LETTER TO CENSOR HAN I am sad. My thoughts are in Youzhou. I would hurry there-but I am sick in bed. …Beauty would be facing me across the autumn waters. Oh, to wash my feet in Lake Dongting and see at its eight corners Wildgeese flying high, sun and moon both white, Green maples changing to red in the frosty sky, Angels bound for the Capital of Heaven, near the North Star, Riding, some of them phrenixes, and others unicorns, With banners of hibiscus and with melodies of mist, Their shadows dancing upside-down in the southern rivers, Till the Queen of theRead More →

Du Fu A SONG OF A PAINTING TO GENERAL CAO O General, descended from Wei’s Emperor Wu, You are nobler now than when a noble…. Conquerors and their velour perish, But masters of beauty live forever. …With your brush-work learned from Lady Wei And second only to Wang Xizhi’s, Faithful to your art, you know no age, Letting wealth and fame drift by like clouds. …In the years of Kaiyuan you were much with the Emperor, Accompanied him often to the Court of the South Wind. When the spirit left great statesmen, on walls of the Hall of Fame The point of your brush preservedRead More →

Du Fu A DRAWING OF A HORSE BY GENERAL CAO AT SECRETARY WEI FENG’S HOUSE Throughout this dynasty no one had painted horses Like the master-spirit, Prince Jiangdu — And then to General Cao through his thirty years of fame The world’s gaze turned, for royal steeds. He painted the late Emperor’s luminous white horse. For ten days the thunder flew over Dragon Lake, And a pink-agate plate was sent him from the palace- The talk of the court-ladies, the marvel of all eyes. The General danced, receiving it in his honoured home After this rare gift, followed rapidly fine silks From many of theRead More →