Drinking Alone – Li Po

I take my wine jug out among the flowers
to drink alone, without friends.

I raise my cup to entice the moon.
That, and my shadow, makes us three.

But the moon doesn’t drink,
and my shadow silently follows.

I will travel with moon and shadow,
happy to the end of spring.

When I sing, the moon dances.
When I dance, my shadow dances, too.

We share life’s joys when sober.
Drunk, each goes a separate way.

Constant friends, although we wander,
we’ll meet again in the Milky Way.

poem – good old moon

When I was a boy I called the moon a
white plate of jade, sometimes it looked
like a great mirror hanging in the sky,
first came the two legs of the fairy
and the cassia tree, but for whom the rabbit
kept on pounding medical herbs, I
just could not guess. Now the moon is being
swallowed by the toad and the light
flickers out leaving darkness all around;
I hear that when nine of the burning suns out
of the ten were ordered to be shot down by
the Emperor Yao, all has since been quiet
and peaceful both for heaven and man,
but this eating up of the moon is for me
a truly ugly scene filling me with forebodings
wondering what will come out of it.

poem – to his two children

In the land of Wu the mulberry leaves are green,
And thrice the silkworms have gone to sleep.
In East Luh where my family stay,
I wonder who is sowing those fields of ours.
I cannot be back in time for the spring doings,
Yet I can help nothing, traveling on the river.
The south wind blowing wafts my homesick spirit
And carries it up to the front of our familiar tavern.
There I see a peach tree on the east side of the house
With thick leaves and branches waving in the blue mist.
It is the tree I planted before my parting three years ago.
The peach tree has grown now as tall as the tavern roof,
While I have wandered about without returning.
Ping-yang, my pretty daughter, I see you stand
By the peach tree and pluck a flowering branch.
You pluck the flowers, but I am not there
How your tears flow like a stream of water!
My little son, Po-chin, grown up to your sister’s shoulders,
You come out with her under the peach tree,
But who is there to pat you on the back?
When I think of these things, my senses fail,
And a sharp pain cuts my heart every day.
Now I tear off a piece of white silk to write this letter,
And send it to you with my love a long way up the river.

Poem – She Spins Silk

Far up river in Szechuan,
waters rise as spring winds roar.

How can I dare to meet her now,
to brave the dangerous gorge?

The grass grows green in the valley below
where silk worms silently spin.

Her hands work threads that never end,
dawn to dusk when the cuckoo sings.

Poem – On Gazing into a Mirror

Follow Tao, and nothing is old or new.
Lose it, and the ruins of age return.

Someone smiling back in the mirror,
hair white as the frost-stained glass,

you admit lament is empty, ask how
reflections get so worn and withered.

How speak of peach and plum: timeless
South Mountain blazes in the end?