by Tu Fu
Pastoral autumn grows ever more unearthly.
A cold river jostles blue space. My boat
Tethered to Well Rope, aboriginal star,
I sited my house in Ch'u village wilderness.
There are workers here to pick ripe dates.
But I hoe these plots of sunflower wreckage
Myself. And dinners, the food of old men
Now, I share out mid-stream to the fish.
This gossamer life obeys an evident
Nature. Nothing turns away easily:
Fish are happiest in deep water, birds
At home in thick woods. Feeble, old,
I'm content sick and poor. Earth's
Pageant flares good and bad together.
Autumn wind blows. I totter about,
Never tired of North Mountain's ferns.
Music and rites to perfect imperfection,
Mountains and forests for long, steady
Happiness.... Gauze cap askew, I sun
My back against radiant bamboo books.
I gather windfallen pinecones, cut sky-
Chilled honeycomb open. In clogs,
I pause at sparse flecks of red and blue,
Bending toward their faint fragrance.
Autumn sand is white on the far bank, late
Light across mountains red. As waves
Recoil from the scales of something hidden,
Birds gather high in the wind to return.
Fulling-stones echo from every home. Axe
Strokes blend together. And soon, Ch'ing-nu
Arrives-- frost drifting down, a quilt
Gift coming between me and Southern Palace.
I wasted my life on Unicorn portraits. Now,
Peopled with ducks and egrets, the year
Crumbles. Autumn has swollen the vast river.
Empty gorges become night's wealth of sound.
Paths lost among thousands of stacked stones,
Our sail lingers on-- one flake of cloud.
Though well-versed in tribal speech, appointments
Advising lords are no certainty for my sons.