rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Cool Darkness

Soft clops of small hooves told me that deer were present after midnight. The moon had been concealed by the pines, so couldn't see them. The night grew cool, and the crickets ceased to chirp long before dawn. There was a hint of damp in the air, as well, and the trees grew slightly vague, as though a thin fog were drifting around them, though the stars remained above. For the first time in weeks, the northern breeze was scented with the pungency of wood itself, rather than with the resin which has permeated the time of heat. Darkness lingers late. Six o'clock will yet be dim and gray. I am pleased by the season's decline.

Sunday Verse

Ballad of the Ancient Cypress

by Tu Fu

An ancient cypress stands before Chu-ko Liang's temple,
branches like bronze, roots like stone. Forty feet

around, bark frost-covered and flooded with rain,
it blends darkness into sky for two thousand feet.

Because king and minister met destiny together
people still cherish this tree, When clouds come,

sending vapor the length of Wu Gorge, and the rising
moon casts a white chill across the Snow Mountains,

I think of a road winding east from my Brocade Pavilion
to that secluded temple Chu-ko Liang and his king share:

cragged trunk and branch also tower there, over ancient
plains, over empty doors and windows, dim paintings. . . .

Though its gnarled roots have spread far and deep,
to stand so distant and alone, so high in violent winds,

divine powers must nurture it. Such undeviating strength--
its source must be Creation. If a great, crumbling hall

needed roof-beams, even ten-thousand oxen would gaze
helplessly at such mountainous weight. Not yet revealed

by any craftsman's art, it already awes the world.
It doesn't resist being cut, but who could cart it away?

Though its bitter heart hasn't escaped gutting by ants,
its fragrant leaves still harbor roosting phoenixes.

No need for sullen laments-- O aspirant and recluse
alike, a great nature has always been hardest to employ.

-translated by David Hinton


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