The hushed house slept as I read. I visited vanished seasons and landscapes, and old words peopled my room with ghosts. I drifted along the rivers of T'ang Dynasty China with Tu Fu. At last, I came to a poem he wrote in his last years-- one in which he makes a reference to Yang Chu, a 4th c. B.C.E. philosopher who once wept upon reaching a fork in the road, because he knew that either choice would only lead to yet another fork, and that he would become more and more lost.
Heaven's design blossoms and leafs out,
Stone roots bind rivers and streams: clouds
Mirroring glimmers of dawn shadow, each
Cold current traces its scar. Yang Chu's
Tears come easily here. Ch'u Yuan's wandering
Soul cannot be summoned. As wind and
Billowing waves load the teetering dusk, we
Abandon oars for a night in whose home?
It seemed a fitting end to the night's journey, and appropriate to the season, so near the year's end. I went back outdoors for a moment, and saw that the clouds had grown so thick that not even bright Venus could penetrate them. Only the moon still glowed through, circled now by a halo of colors from its refracted light.