A thousand hills, but no birds in flight

Liu Zongyuan

A thousand hills, but no birds in flight,
Ten thousand paths, with no person’s tracks.
A lonely boat, a straw-hatted old man,
Fishing alone in the cold river snow.


Winter Dawn

Tu Fu

The men and beasts of the zodiac
Have marched over us once more.
Green wine bottles and red lobster shells,
Both emptied, litter the table.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot?” Each
Sits listening to his own thoughts,
And the sound of cars starting outside.
The birds in the eaves are restless,
Because of the noise and light. Soon now
In the winter dawn I will face
My fortieth year. Borne headlong
Towards the long shadows of sunset
By the headstrong, stubborn moments,
Life whirls past like drunken wildfire.

Kenneth Rexroth

Early Winter

Po Ch’ui

Tenth month south of the Yangtze, splendid weather,
winter landscapes delightful as the flowering spring,
frosts so light they don’t kill the lush vegetation,
warm sunshine drying the broad sandy flats.
Yellow leaves on the old paper mulberry look like new shoots;
white limbs of the winter cherry, blooming out of season.
At such times I envy idlers who can get drunk–
five-horse officials aren’t allowed in the taverns!

Burton Watson

Reflections on Early Winter

Meng Hao-jan

Leaves are falling;
wild geese fly south.
Wind blowing from the north
turns the river cold.
My home is
at the bend of Xiang River,
far away, below the
last clouds of Chu.
No more homesick tears
are left in a strange land.
In my solitary boat,
l see only the sky’s rim.
I want to ask for
the correct direction,
but the sea at sunset
is so flat and boundless.

Edward Chang

Facing Snow

Tu Fu

Wailing war, so many fine young ghosts:
Chanting sadness, one poor lame old man.
A chaos of clouds droops into the sunset:
A rush of snowflakes dances, whirling in the wind.
The wine pot’s pushed aside, cup empty of its green:
The stove abides, there coals glow red.
No news from anywhere gets through.
Sadness sits, to draft a letter
Into emptiness.

J.P. Seaton

On Mount Lang-ya

Wei Ying-wu

At Stone Gate there is snow, no trace of travel.
Pine Valley’s mists, so full of fragrances.
To the crumbs of our meal in the court, cold birds come down.
A tattered robe hangs on the tree, the old monk’s dead.

J.P. Seaton

Facing Snow and Writing What  My Heart Embraces

Ching An

At Mount Ssu-ming in the cold in the snow,
half a lifetime’s bitter chanting.
Beard hairs are easy to pluck out one by one:
a poem’s words are hard to put together.
It’s pure vanity, to vent the heart and spleen;
words and theories, sometimes, aren’t enough.
Loneliness, loneliness ; that’s my everyday affair.
The soughing winds pass on the night bell sound.

J.P. Seaton