Seeing Meng Haoran Off to Guangling at the Yellow Crane Tower

Li Po

From Yellow Crane Tower you sail
the river west as mist flowers bloom.

A solitary sail, far shadow, green mountains at the empty end of vision.
And now, just the Yangtze River touching the sky.

Tony Barnstone

River Snow

Liu Zongyuan

A thousand mountains. Flying birds vanish.
Ten thousand paths. Human traces erased.
One boat, bamboo hat, bark cape—an old man
alone, angling in the cold river. Snow

Tony Barnstone

Hearing a Song from My Boat

Chang Yu

Where is this beautiful song being sung,
with its short and long notes?
Shore-wind, sand-rain mingling with the sad sound!
There’s no need to hear it at the ends of the earth
to be deeply moved:
I’m only one day away from home, and it’s breaking my heart. 

Jonathan Chaves

Old, and a Fever

Po Ch-ui

I eat up, the hundred feelings vanish,
sip wine, ten thousand worries end,

and knowing we’re all ravaged by age
l’ve grown old without all that worry.

Scholars devoting themselves to office
farmers struggling out in their fields:

how many escape the fevers of grief?
But having only a fever of the body,

I can lie in wind at the north window
or sit beside south pond in moonlight,

take off my crow cap, sun a cold head,
or bathe feverish feet ini clear water.

Passing lazy days propped on pillows,
I rise late, drift nights away in a boat,

come into all this contentment simply
because I’ve stopped longing for more.

David Hinton


Gong to Hsieh’s Lake House by Boat

Yang Wan-li

The wind blows toward the north,
then it shifts to the south.
I blink—and we’ve traveled from the Yellow Fields
to Hsieh’s Lake.
The shadow of a mountain floats past my cabin;
I lift the curtain and see purple cliffs.

I pour two cups of dear wine,
then open my cabin door.
Here are ten thousand wrinkled mountains
that no one ever sees,
the highlights picked out for me by the setting sun.

Jonathan Chaves

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Yuan Mei

I’m not such a goose that I live on the water,—
but day after day light sail slides by the shallows.
Even the reeds know the Great Official’s here.
Following the winds of custom
they see me off
with a boat full of blossoms.

J.P. Seaton


Yuan Mei

Wild confusion, river, sky; ten thousand li of waves,
before one sail is gone another’s come.
My boat is tied at the bank of a small green stream.
Except to pluck the lotus flowers, I never touch an oar.

J.P. Seaton

Waves Sifting Sand

Po Ch-ui

One anchorage of sand appears as another dissolves away,
and one fold of wave ends as another rises. Wave and sand

mingling together day after day, sifting through each other
without cease: they level up mountains and seas in no time.

White waves swell through wide open seas, boundless and beyond
and level sands stretch into the four directions all endless depths:

evenings they dissolve and momings reappear, sifting ever away,
their seasons transforming eastem seas into a field of mulberries.

David Hinton


On the River, I Came Upon Waters Surging Like the Ocean: For Now, I Give This Short Account

Tu Fu

I’m an eccentric sort of person, captivated by fine lines;
until my language is startling, I ‘d sooner die than give up.
As I pass into old age, I throw myself into poems in a really slapdash way-
when spring arrives, the flowers and birds ought not to deeply worry.
I’ve newly added a pier by the water, to serve me as I dangle my fishing line;
remaining from before, my moored raft, to take the place of a boat to ride in.
How can I find an old hand with thoughts like Tao Qian or Xie Lingyun,
to have him compose and take excursions with me?

Zong-qi Cai



Recording My Thoughts While Traveling at Night

Tu Fu

A shore of thin reeds in light wind
a tall boat alone at night
stars hang over the barren land
the moon rises out of the Yangtze
how could writing ever lead to fame
I quit my post due to illness and age
drifting along what am I like
a solitary gull between Heaven and Earth

Red Pine