The northeastern border of China was dark with smoke and dust.
To repel the savage invaders, our generals, leaving their families,
Strode forth together, looking as heroes should look;
And having received from the Emperor his most gracious favour,
They marched to the beat of gong and drum through the Elm Pass.
They circled the Stone Tablet with a line of waving flags,
Till their captains over the Sea of Sand were twanging feathered orders.
The Tartar chieftain's hunting-fires glimmered along Wolf Mountain,
And heights and rivers were cold and bleak there at the outer border;
But soon the barbarians' horses were plunging through wind and rain.
Half of our men at the front were killed, but the other half are living,
And still at the camp beautiful girls dance for them and sing.
...As autumn ends in the grey sand, with the grasses all withered,
The few surviving watchers by the lonely wall at sunset,
Serving in a good cause, hold life and the foeman lightly.
And yet, for all that they have done, Elm Pass is still unsafe.
Still at the front, iron armour is worn and battered thin,
And here at home food-sticks are made of jade tears.
Still in this southern city young wives' hearts are breaking,
While soldiers at the northern border vainly look toward home.
The fury of the wind cuts our men's advance
In a place of death and blue void, with nothingness ahead.
Three times a day a cloud of slaughter rises over the camp;
And all night long the hour-drums shake their chilly booming,
Until white swords can be seen again, spattered with red blood.
...When death becomes a duty, who stops to think of fame?
Yet in speaking of the rigours of warfare on the desert
We name to this day Li, the great General, who lived long ago.
Tzu Yeh (a Chinese poetess of the Chin Dynasty)
five short poems translated by Arthur Waley
I will carry my coat and not put on my belt;
With unpainted eyebrows I will stand at the front window.
My tiresome petticoat keeps on flapping about;
If it opens a little, I shall blame the spring wind.
I heard my love was going to Yang-chou
And went with him as far as Ch’u-shan.
For a moment when you held me fast in your outstretched arms
I thought the river stood still and did not flow.
Longing, I watch out the open window,
my sash untied, long sleeves dragging.
This breeze lifts gauze so easily,
if my skirt should open, blame the warm spring wind.
Winter skies are cold and low,
with harsh winds and freezing sleet.
But when we make love beneath our quilt,
we make three summer months of heat.
When she approached you on the street,
you couldn't possibly say no.
But your neglect of me is nothing new.
Hinges soon sag on an empty door:
it won't fit snug like it did before.
A DESULTORY VISIT TO THE FÊNG HSIEN
TEMPLE AT THE DRAGON'S GATE
BY DU FU
I HAD already wandered away from the People's Temple, 126
But I was obliged to sleep within the temple precincts.
The dark ravine was full of the music of silence,
The moon scattered bright shadows through the forest.
The Great Gate against the sky seemed to impinge upon the paths of the planets.
Sleeping among the clouds, my upper garments, my lower garments, were cold.
Wishing to wake, I heard the sunrise bell
Commanding men to come forth and examine themselves in meditation.
No need to chase back and forth like the waves.
The same water which ebbs is the same water that flows.
No point turning back to get water
When it's flowing around you in all directions
The heart of the Buddha and the people of the world...
Where is there any difference?
Living in retirement beyond the World,
Silently enjoying isolation,
I pull the rope of my door tighter
And stuff my window with roots and ferns.
My spirit is tuned to the Spring-season:
At the fall of the year
There is autumn in my heart.
Thus imitating cosmic changes,
My cottage becomes a Universe.
Across the world this June, the petals all have fallen,
But the mountain temple's peach blossom has just begun to bloom.
I regretted so much that spring had gone without a trace,
I didn't know that it had only moved up here.
here’s my snowy crown
time’s tinted decrepitude
there’s the frost in the courtyard
autumn’s glittery breath
now I’m sick and just watching my wife
then I’m frozen waiting for the maid
to comb my hair
without the body
what use fame?
I’ve put aside
I delve my heart
to learn from Empty Boats!
One of six verses composed in An'yoin Temple in Fukakusa, 1230:
by Eihei Dogen
English version by Steven Heine
Original Language Japanese
Drifting pitifully in the whirlwind of birth and death,
As if wandering in a dream,
In the midst of illusion I awaken to the true path;
There is one more matter I must not neglect,
But I need not bother now,
As I listen to the sound of the evening rain
Falling on the roof of my temple retreat
In the deep grass of Fukakusa.
Li Qingzhao (Li Ching-chao, 1084-1155)
loose translation by Michael R. Burch
The migrant songbird on the bough wet with dew
brings tears to my eyes with her melodious trills—
this fresh downpour rewetting the stains of older spills;
another spring gone, and still no word from you ...
The cows and sheep are moving slowly down,
Each villager has shut his wicker gate.
The wind and moon disturb the clear night,
This landscape of rivers and hills is not my homeland.
A spring flows from the stones of a darkening cliff,
The autumn dew drips on the grass's roots.
My white head is within the brightness of the lamp,
What need for the flower to flourish so?
The road enters green mountains near evening's dark;
Beneath the white cherry trees, a Buddhist temple
Whose priest doesn't know what regret for spring's passing means-
Each stroke of his bell startles more blossoms into falling.