Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

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 ~

Friday, November 11, 2005

300 Tang Dynasty Poems, #9 To My Retired Friend Wei

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to an online version of a famous anthology of Chinese poems, the 300 Tang Dynasty Poems.

The Tang Dynasty was a watershed of art and culture in China. Poety was especially esteemed. No occasion was too mundane to not merit a poem. No homecoming or leave taking, no celebration, no invitation would be complete without a poem.

Du Fu, together with Li Po are considered the giants of poetry of that era. They were friends. They were opposites. Li Po, while drunk would dash off complete masterpieces, while Du Fu had to grind his work out.

Du Fu
It is almost as hard for friends to meet
As for the morning and evening stars.
Tonight then is a rare event,
Joining, in the candlelight,
Two men who were young not long ago
But now are turning grey at the temples. ...
To find that half our friends are dead
Shocks us, burns our hearts with grief.
We little guessed it would be twenty years
Before I could visit you again.
When I went away, you were still unmarried;
But now these boys and girls in a row
Are very kind to their father's old friend.
They ask me where I have been on my journey;
And then, when we have talked awhile,
They bring and show me wines and dishes,
Spring chives cut in the night-rain
And brown rice cooked freshly a special way.
...My host proclaims it a festival,
He urges me to drink ten cups --
But what ten cups could make me as drunk
As I always am with your love in my heart?
...Tomorrow the mountains will separate us;
After tomorrow-who can say?

No comments: