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, December 23, 2005

300 Tang Dynasty Poems: #11 Seeing Li Bai in a Dream I

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 #11, written by Da Fu.

Du Fu
There are sobs when death is the cause of parting;
But life has its partings again and again. ...
From the poisonous damps of the southern river
You had sent me not one sign from your exile --
Till you came to me last night in a dream,
Because I am always thinking of you.
I wondered if it were really you,
Venturing so long a journey.
You came to me through the green of a forest,
You disappeared by a shadowy fortress....
Yet out of the midmost mesh of your snare,
How could you lift your wings and use them?
...I woke, and the low moon's glimmer on a rafter
Seemed to be your face, still floating in the air.
...There were waters to cross, they were wild and tossing;
If you fell, there were dragons and rivermonsters.

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