The River Village

Translated by Florence Ayscough and Amy Lowell

The river makes a bend and encircles the village with its current.
All the long Summer, the affairs and occupations of the river village are quiet and simple.
The swallows who nest in the beams go and come as they please.
The gulls in the middle of the river enjoy one another, they crowd together and touch one another.
My old wife paints a chess-board on paper.
My little sons hammer needles to make fish-hooks.
I have many illnesses, therefore my only necessities are medicines.
Besides these, what more can so humble a man as I ask?

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the ancients play chess in the starry sky
the endgame flickers
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jumps out to tell the time

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the sun climbs over the wall like an old man
and goes through the market
throwing mirror light on
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gods drink water from earthen jars
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seeds sown along the high noon
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After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard

East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
                                        looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

Day after day, I become of less use to myself.
Like this mockingbird,
                      I flit from one thing to the next.
What do I have to look forward to at fifty-four?
Tomorrow is dark.
                 Day-after-tomorrow is darker still.

The sky dogs are whimpering.
Fireflies are dragging the hush of evening
                                         up from the damp grass.
Into the world's tumult, into the chaos of every day,
Go quietly, quietly.

The Blue-Green Stream

Translated by Florence Ayscough and Amy Lowell

Every time I have started for the Yellow Flower River,
I have gone down the Blue-Green Stream, 
Following the hills, making ten thousand turnings,
We go along rapidly, but advance scarcely one hundred li.
We are in the midst of a noise of water,
Of the confused and mingled sounds of water broken by stones,
And in the deep darkness of pine trees.
Rocked, rocked,
Moving on and on, 
We float past water-chestnuts
Into a still clearness reflecting reeds and rushes.
My heart is clean and white as silk; it has already achieved Peace;
It is smooth as the placid river.
I love to stay here, curled up on the rocks, 
Dropping my fish-line forever.