Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Bamboo and Plum Blossom
Bamboo and Plum Blossom

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Du Fu (712-770)

By the Waters of Wei

Grieving silently and ageing,
Going secretly by Spring waters,
By closed palaces along the river.      
New reeds, fresh willows, green for no one.
Rainbow Banners passed hibiscus flowers,
Once, between South Gardens shining faces,
First Lady of the Han, Flying Swallow,
Sitting by her Lord in his carriage.
Maids of Honour with their bows and arrows
Mounted on white horses with gold bridles,
Glanced and shot their careless shafts together,
Killing with a single gleam of laughter.
Bright eyes. Clear smile. Where is She now?
Spirits of the blood-defiled are homeless.
Beyond the Wei’s east-running waters
One entered silence, One was left behind.
Pity’s tears remember vanished hours
By waters and by flowers still the same.
Now curfew, and the dust of Tartar horsemen.
I’ll head north to reach the south again.

Note: The ill-fated Yang Kuei-fei, whom Hsüan Tsung grieved for so deeply is, by analogy, Flying Swallow consort of the Han Emperor Ch’êng. Tu is probably slipping away to join Su-tsung the Emperor in the North hoping that way to return one day to Ch’ang-an’s light-filled South Gardens.

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