River Snow, 江雪

Liu Zongyuan, 柳宗元 was just 46 when he died. A champion of political reform, he lead a life that consisted of exile and isolation. The poem Winter Snow expresses his loneliness.  江雪千山鳥飛絕萬徑人蹤滅 孤舟蓑笠翁 獨釣寒江雪 柳宗元 River SnowA thousand mountains, not a bird in sightTen thousand paths, not a human trackAlone in a boat, wearing a…

Facing the Snow

In the battle’s aftermath, many spirits cry,Alone, an old man hums his worrisome chant.Confusion sets in amid the clouds at dusk,A violent snow dances in the swirling wind There lies an abandoned ladle and an empty green jug,But the stove still looks fiery red.With bad news from many placesI sit in grief, but cannot read…

jiāng xuě, River Snow

In a thousand mountains, no bird flies
On ten thousand trails, no human trace
But one man in a grass raincoat and hat
Fishes in the river and snow

Homesick in Handan on a Winter Solstice Night

Why Bai Juyi (白居易, 772–846) was stuck in Handan (in modern Hebei province), on a Winter’s Solstice, I don’t know. It was the beginning of deep dark winter and a break from farming when the family gathers to share stories, and he wanted to be home. We’ve all found ourselves stuck somewhere on a holiday,…

Quiet Night Thought – Li Bai

Quiet Night Thought At the foot of my bed, moonlight Yes, I suppose there is frost on the ground. Lifting my head I gaze at the bright moon Bowing my head, thinking of home. Jìng yè sī Chuáng qián míngyuè guāng Yí shì dìshang shuāng Jǔtóu wàng míngyuè Dītóu sī gùxiāng 靜夜思 床前明月光 疑是地上霜 舉頭望明月…

The Ballad of War Carts (兵車行), Du Fu

A constant rumble of war cartsAnd never ending horse whinnies Soldiers with bows at their waistsFathers and mothers, wives and children rushing to see themIn the dust and dirt one cannot see Xianyang bridgePulling clothes, stamping feet, blocking the way and weepingThe sound of weeping rising above to heavenAlong the wayside a passerby asks a…

New Years Eve – Cui Tu

[This is a revision of an earlier translation in December of 2017.] Increasingly remote are the three roads to ancient Ba Dangerous and strange for one who has traveled ten thousand li. At night, in the midst of the jagged snowy mountains, A lonely man is isolated and faraway from kin.(A lonely man so different…

Mooring at Night by Maple Bridge

枫桥夜泊 月落乌啼霜满天江枫渔火对愁眠姑苏城外寒山寺夜半钟声到客船 Mooring at Night by Maple Bridge A crow cries, the moon sets in a frost filled sky River Maple and fishing boat lights keep company on a sorrowful nightAt Hanshan Temple outside GusuOn my boat, a midnight bell rings for me fēng qiáo yè bó yuè luò wū tí shuāng mǎn tiānjiāngfēng yú…

Li Bai, The Four Seasons, Ballads

Li Bai has created a series of four love ballads set to the four seasons. The subject is women, the theme is love, devotion, and longing. The Four Seasons In Spring, the lovely Lo Fo of the western land of Chin plucks mulberry leaves by the blue waterside, her white arms gleam against the green…

Return to Furong Mountain 归人 山主人

Seeking Shelter During a Snowstorm on Furong Mountain Night falls and the dark green mountains are behind meThe cold thatched cottage is needyI knock on the wicket gate, a dog barksEveryone sleeps at night in a snowstorm Return to Furong Mountain 归 人 山主人 I have been here before, to be exact, on March 6,…