Poem – To Bi Siyao

Once stately figures in the art of rhyme,
Now sadly down at heels, our careers in ruin,
Regarded by our servants with disdain,
We are grown old and gray before our time.
Yet in your joyful, carefree company,
The most consoling thought occurs to me:
Though we are doomed to poverty and strife,
Our poems shall have a long and prosperous life.

Poem – Thoughts Of Li Po From The World’s End

Here at the world’s end the cold winds are beginning to blow. What messages
have you for me, my master? When will the poor wandering goose arrive? The
rivers and lakes are swollen with autumn’s waters. Art detests a too successful
life; and the hungry goblins await you with welcoming jaws. You had better have
a word with the ghost of that other wronged poet. Drop some verses into the
Mi-lo as an offering to him!

Poem – Twenty-Two Rhymes To Left-Prime-Minister Wei

Boys in fancy clothes never starve,
but Confucian scholars often find their lives in ruin.
Please listen to my explanation, Sir,
I, your humble student, ask permission to state my case.
When I was a younger Du Fu
I was honored as a national distinguished guest
and wore out ten thousand books in reading,
My brush was always inspired by gods,
my rhymed essays rivaled those of Yang Xiong,1
my poems were kin with those of Cao Zijian.2
Li Yong looked for a chance to meet me,
and even Wang Han3 wanted to be my neighbor.
I thought I was an outstanding person,
positioned at a key ferryboat route
and would assist an emperor like Yao or Shun,4
and make folk customs honest and simple again.
In the end this ambition withered.
I became a bard instead of a hermit,
and spent thirty years traveling on a donkey,
ate traveler’s rations in the luxury of the capital,
knocked on the door of the rich in the morning,
walked in the dust of fat horses in the evening,
ate leftover dishes and half-finished wine.
Wherever I went, I found misery hiding beneath.
When the emperor summoned me,
I was excited at this chance to stretch myself .
I saw blue sky but my wings just hung.
I was set back, had no scales to swim far.
I feel unworthy of your kindness,
and I know your sincerity:
in the presence of one hundred officials,
you read my best poems.
I am as happy as Gong Gong.5
Since it’s hard to imitate Confucius disciple Yuan Xian6
How can I feel unhappy about anything,
though my feet still drag as usual?
Now I plan to move east to the sea,
and leave the capital behind me in the west.
But I still feel attached to the Zhongnan Mountain,
and turn my head to look at the Wei River.
I think about my gratitude for one meal7
as I take departure from you, Prime Minister.
This white gull is lost in the waves.
Who can tame him in his journey of ten thousand miles?

Poem – Alone, Looking For Blossoms Along The River

The sorrow of riverside blossoms inexplicable,
And nowhere to complain — I’ve gone half crazy.
I look up our southern neighbor. But my friend in wine
Gone ten days drinking. I find only an empty bed.

A thick frenzy of blossoms shrouding the riverside,
I stroll, listing dangerously, in full fear of spring.
Poems, wine — even this profusely driven, I endure.
Arrangements for this old, white-haired man can wait.

A deep river, two or three houses in bamboo quiet,
And such goings on: red blossoms glaring with white!
Among spring’s vociferous glories, I too have my place:
With a lovely wine, bidding life’s affairs bon voyage.

Looking east to Shao, its smoke filled with blossoms,
I admire that stately Po-hua wineshop even more.
To empty golden wine cups, calling such beautiful
Dancing girls to embroidered mats — who could bear it?

East of the river, before Abbot Huang’s grave,
Spring is a frail splendor among gentle breezes.
In this crush of peach blossoms opening ownerless,
Shall I treasure light reds, or treasure them dark?

At Madame Huang’s house, blossoms fill the paths:
Thousands, tens of thousands haul the branches down.
And butterflies linger playfully — an unbroken
Dance floating to songs orioles sing at their ease.

I don’t so love blossoms I want to die. I’m afraid,
Once they are gone, of old age still more impetuous.
And they scatter gladly, by the branchful. Let’s talk
Things over, little buds —open delicately, sparingly.

I Do Not Care About Social Norms – Mirabai

I will fasten the bells of his love to my feet
And dance in front of Girdhar.
Dancing and dancing I will please his eyes;
My love is an ancient one.
My love is the only truth.

I do not care about social norms
Nor do I keep my family’s honour.
I cannot forget, even for a moment,
The beauty of my lover.
I am dyed in Hari’s colour.

No One Knows My Invisible Life – Mirabai

No one knows my invisible life.
Pain
and madness for Rama.
Our wedding bed is high up
in the gallows.
Meet him?
If the dark healer comes,
we’ll negotiate the hurt.
I love the man who takes care
of cows. The cowherd.
Cowherd and dancer.
My eyes are drunk,
worn out from making love
with him. We are one.
I am now his dark color.
People notice me, point fingers at me.
They see my desire,
since I’m walking about like a lunatic.
I’m wiped out, gone.
Yet no one knows I live with my prince,
the cowherd.
The palace can’t contain me.
I leave it behind.
I couldn’t care less about gossip
or my royal name.
I’ll be with him
in all his gardens.

Strange Are The Decrees Of Fate – Mirabai

Strange are the decrees of fate.

Behold the large eyes of the deer!
Yet he is forced to roam the forests.

The harsh crane has brilliant plumage,
While the sweet-voiced cuckoo is black.

The rivers flow in pure streams,
But the sea makes them salt.

Fools sit on thrones as kings,
While the wise beg their bread.

Mira’s lord is the courtly Giridhara:
The king persecutes the Bhaktas.

O I Saw Witchcraft Tonight – Mirabai

O I saw witchcraft tonight
in the region of Braj.
A milking girl going her rounds,
a pot on her head,
came face to face with the Dark One.
My friend, she is babbling,
can no longer say “buttermilk.”
– Come get the Dark One, the Dark One!
A pot full of Shyam! –
In the overgrown lanes
of Vrindavan forest
the Enchanter of Hearts fixed his
eye on this girl,
then departed.
Mira’s lord is hot, lovely
and raven –
tonight she saw witchcraft
at Braj.

Only He Knows The Bitterness Of Love – Mirabai

Only he knows the bitterness of love

Who has deeply felt its pangs.

When you are in trouble

No one comes near you:

When fortune smiles.

All come to share the joy.

Love shows no external wound.

But the pain pervades every pore

Devotee Mira offers her body

As a sacrifice to Giridhara for ever.

I Will Sing The Praises Of Hari – Mirabai

We do not get a human life
Just for the asking.
Birth in a human body
Is the reward for good deeds
In former births.
Life waxes and wanes imperceptibly,
It does not stay long.
The leaf that has once fallen
Does not return to the branch.
Behold the Ocean of Transmigration.
With its swift, irresistible tide.
O Lal Giridhara, O pilot of my soul,
Swiftly conduct my barque to the further shore.
Mira is the slave of Lal Giridhara.
She says: Life lasts but a few days only.

Life in the world is short,
Why shoulder an unnecessary load
Of worldly relationships?
Thy parents gave thee birth in the world,
But the Lord ordained thy fate.
Life passes in getting and spending,
No merit is earned by virtuous deeds.
I will sing the praises of Hari
In the company of the holy men,
Nothing else concerns me.
Mira’s Lord is the courtly Giridhara,
She says: Only by Thy power
Have I crossed to the further shore.