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A ROAMER’S CHANT

Meng Jiao (751 - 814, Tang Dynasty)
English translation: Miao Guang

From the thread in a loving mother’s hand,

To the clothes that the roamer wears;

Sewing and sewing, upon his leave,

Slow and slow his return, her fear.

Who is to say that the heart of an inch’s grass

Can repay a whole spring’s sunrays?

──from Qingyuanshan Zhilue (Chronicles of Mt. Qingyuan)

LIVING AWAY IN CHANG’AN

I comb my hair only once every ten days,

A heap of dirt flying from each brush;

Not one drink until after a month’s time,

Each meal coarse as usual but fine.

All matters must be timely,

Except for unawareness of the approaching spring.

Who is willing to touch on the depressed?

Only contending to be near the prosperous.

Living on erect trees are joyful birds,

Yet serene rivers are no home to restless fish.

Hiking in the wild with a bamboo stick,

Feeding on wild vegetables and herbs afresh;

Silent humming of returning home,

The scenery realistic only to an outsider.

TWO CASUAL POEMS ON RETURNING HOME
by He Zhizhang (659 - 744, Tang Dynasty)
English translation: Zhi Yue

Leaving home in one’s youth

And returning in old age,

One’s hometown accent unchanged,

Though hair now turned gray.

Greeted by children, unfamiliar of me,

Laughing, they ask where I am from.

Many years has passed since leaving home,

Half the people have now vanished,

Only the lake’s reflection in front of the house

Remains unchanged despite the ripples from the wind.

── from Quan Tang Shi (Complete Collection of Tang Poems)