rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,
rejectomorph
flying_blind

Wintry

All night, rain increases. Sometimes such rains become snow after dawn, and I wake to a silent, whitened landscape. For now, there is the constant pattering, the gurgling downspout, the glistening drops that catch light cast from my door as I open it. It is a wintry storm ahead of the solstice, but the approaching winter does not seem long. A dozen weeks, and days will again be nearly as lengthy as nights. Each season accelerates, until even harsh winters surprise me with their apparent brevity. Was it October when the locusts ceased vibrating the balmy night air? I could have sworn I heard them just hours ago.



Sunday Verse

Seven Songs at T'ung-ku

by Tu Fu


1

A wanderer--O, all year, Tzu-mei a wanderer,
white hair, a shoulder-length confusion, gathering

acorns all year, like Tsu the monkey sage. Under cold
skies, the sun sets in this mountain valley. No word

arrives from the central plain, and for failing
skin and bone, ice-parched hands and feet, no return, no

return there Song, my first song
              sung, O song already sad enough,
winds come from the furthest sky grieving for me.


2

Sturdy hoe, O long sturdy hoe, my white-handled
fortune--now I depend on you, on you alone

for life, there isn't a wild yam shoot to dig. Snow
fills the mountains. I tug at a coat never covering

my shins. And when we return this time, empty-handed
again--my children's tears are deafening, the four walls

harbor quiet Song, my second song
              sung, O song beginning to carry,
this village is peopled with faces grieving for me.


3

Brothers of mine, my brothers in far-off places, O
three frail brothers--is anyone strong now these

scattering lives we wander never meet? Now Mongol dust
smothers the sky, this road between us goes on forever.

Cranes flock eastward, following geese. But cranes--
how could cranes carry me there, to another life beside

my brothers Song, my third song
             sung, O song sung three times over,
if they return, where will they come to gather my bones?


4

Sister of mine, my sister in Chung-li--devoted husband
dead young, orphan children unhinged, O my sister,

the long Huai is all deep swells, all flood-dragon fury--
how will you ever come now? Ten years apart--how will I

ever find you in my little boat? Arrows fill my eyes,
and the south, riddled with war banners and flags, harbors

another dark Song, my fourth song
              sung, O song rehearsed four times through,
gibbons haunt the midday forest light wailing for me.


5

Mountains, all mountains and wind, headlong streams and
rain--O, the cold rain falling into withered trees falls.

And clouds never clear. Among brown weeds and ancient
city walls--white foxes prowl, brown foxes stand fast.

This life of mine--how can I live this life out in some
starveling valley? I wake and sit in the night, ten thousand

worries gathering Song, my fifth song
                   sung, O song long enough now
singing my soul back, my lost soul gone to my lost home.


6

A dragon--O, a dragon in southern mountains, cragged
trees mingling their ancient branches above its pool--

when yellowed leaves fall, it sinks into hibernation,
and from the east, adders and cobras come roaming the water.

A traveler full of fear, how could I confront them?
My sword is hardly drawn before I put it away, before I 

rest here Song, my sixth song
           sung, O song wearing your thoughts thin,
streams and valleys are graced by spring again for me,


7

             a man
every distinction has eluded, a man grown old only 
to wander three hungry years away on mountain roads.

In Ch'ang-an, statesmen are young. Honor, wealth--
men devote themselves early. Wise men I knew long ago

live here in the mountains now. Our talk is all old
times gone by, nothing more--old friends harboring

wounded memories Song, my seventh song
                  sung, O uneasy silence ending my tune,
a white sun fills the majestic sky with headlong flight.



translated by David Hinton
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