life

The sorrow in your heart
is betrayed by a few grey hairs.
Life is like empty mountain ranges
Where snow awaits your visits;
Yet you make your solitary retreat
by the path in the wilderness.

Li Yü

tedious ways

…When you throw water on the floor,
It runs in all directions.
Life has its predestinations.
Then it is useless
to worry about everything.
Before you sing the Tedious Ways,
Comfort yourself and pour some wine.
I am not made of stone or wood.
For lack of courage,
I prefer to remain silent…

Pao Chao

drinking

Last night, the wind and rain —
Those autumnal sounds
struck against the curtains and screens.
The candle wept,
the clepsydra dripped
and I leaned against the head-rest.
I rose, but found no peace.

All mundane affairs
should be thrown into the river.
Life is just a nightmare.
The only safe path is down into the cellar.
Any other route is not worth the fare.

Li Yü

new year

Wind returns to this small court
as lichens turn green.
Her eyes and the willow leaves
make a sequence in spring.
Leaning against the balustrade
she remains long in silence.
The new moon and the crackers
are tediously the same as in the past.

The feast and the music have not yet ceased.
In the pond, ice is beginning to melt.
In the bright candlelight and the faint scent,
and deeply hidden in this painted room,
My temples, overladen with thoughts,
are white like frost.

Li Yü

poem of my heart

VI

Sitting in an empty hall
I enjoy no one’s company.
Going out to the endless road
I see no chariot or horse.
Climbing up a hill
I look at places far away.
A solitary bird hovers
And a stray beast wanders.
The setting sun reminds me of relatives and
friends.
How I have longed to talk to them!

Juan Chi

the hermitage of the bamboos

In solitude
sitting in the hidden forest
of the bamboos,
To the sound of the lute
I whistle suspended notes.
In the secrecy of the wood
I see no one:
The bright moon reaches me
with its light.

I come and go
in the hut
isolated among the bamboos,
Every day
more familiar with the Tao.
I go and come back:
there are none here
but the birds of the mountain.
Where solitude is deepest,
the people of the world
cease.

Wang Wei
P’ei Ti

garden

The garden, deep and serene;
The hall, vacant and small.
Now and then,
washerwomen’s pounding
mingles with the wind.
In this eternal night,
only a sleepless man hears
the intermittent noises
Stealthily brought to the curtains
by the moonlight.

Li Yü

the rapids of the white rocks

Limpid and shallow
are the rapids of the torrent;
The green reeds
I can almost touch
The people from the huts
to the east and west of the water,
Are washing silk
by the light of the moon.

On tiptoe over the rocks
I return to the water’s edge,
Playing with the water
I feel a boundless emotion.
When the sun goes down,
the cold settles on the river,
And the drifting clouds
grow pale and evanescent.

Wang Wei
P’ei Ti

the bronze bird platform

A lovely young girl brings up a jar of wine.
The autumnal scene extends over a thousand miles.
The stone horse lies in the early mist —
How can I describe the sadness?
The singing is now faint,
Because a wind comes up out of the trees.
Her skirt, long and heavy, is pressed against the floor,
And her tearful eyes are fixed on the flowers on the
table.

Li Ho

lake I

The voice of the flute
reaches the farthest bank.
It is sunset, and I am coming with you,
my master.
From the high shore of the lake
I turn back again to look;
On the green of the mountains
white clouds are gathering.

Wide in the emptiness
spreads the water of the lake:
Its pellucid splendour
reflects the hue of the sky.
I moor the boat to the bank,
and whistle contentedly
The freshness of the breeze
reaches me from every side.

Wang Wei
P’ei Ti