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SELECTION OF POEMS BY DU FU

FOR MISTER WEI, A RETIRED SCHOLAR


by Du Fu (712 - 770, Tang Dynasty)
English translation: Miao Guang and Zhi Yue

Life without meeting each other,
is like constellations moving apart;
What evening, then, is this,
where we can share the same candle light?
How long will youth last,
as both our hairs are all gray now?
Discovering half our friends are ghosts,
we cry out in a shock of disbelief;
How could we have known it’d be twenty years
before I would once again enter your home.
Before we parted, you were still unmarried;
look now at your row of boys and girls,
Happily greeting their father’s friend,
asking me where I come from?
Before I finish answering,
the children are urged to prepare a feast of wine:
Picking spring scallions in the evening rain,
soon the smell of yellow millet wine has risen.
“Meeting again may be difficult,” you say,
downing ten glasses of wine in one go.
The ten goblets of wine do not make me drunk,
it was feeling moved by your old sentiments.
Tomorrow, a lofty mountain will separate us,
as we return to the world’s affairs again.


THOUGHTS WHILE TRAVELING AT NIGHT

English translation: John Balcom

A breeze blows through the grassy bank,
The high mast of a ship alone at night.
A star shines broadly across the land,
The moon flows following the great river

Has my fame come from writing alone?
As I grow old and sick, I should take leave of my position.
Blowing, blowing. How can it be?
Between heaven and earth, a lone seagull.

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