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.