The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Thursday, January 12, 2006

300 Tang Dynasty Poems, #12:Seeing Li Bai in a Dream II

The Tang Dynasty was a Golden Age of culture in China. Poetry was particularly esteemed. The two giants of Tang Dynasty poetry were Da Fu and Li Po (also read as Li Bai). They were great friends as well as opposites. LiPo could dash off a complete masterpiece in a single draft while drunk, while Da Fu had to grind his work out. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to an online version of the classic anthology, the 300 Tang Dynasty Poems.

Below is #12, written by Da Fu.

Du Fu
This cloud, that has drifted all day through the sky,
May, like a wanderer, never come back....
Three nights now I have dreamed of you --
As tender, intimate and real as though I were awake.
And then, abruptly rising to go,
You told me the perils of adventure
By river and lake-the storms, the wrecks,
The fears that are borne on a little boat;
And, here in my doorway, you rubbed your white head
As if there were something puzzling you.
...Our capital teems with officious people,
While you are alone and helpless and poor.
Who says that the heavenly net never fails?
It has brought you ill fortune, old as you are.
...A thousand years' fame, ten thousand years' fame-
What good, when you are dead and gone.

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