murphy’s bai ju yi later years 300s

bai ju yi 300 this first day of the seventh month
bai ju yi 301 my fast ends today, april 19, 842, sent to my wife
bai ju yi 302 moved by the memory of old friends
bai ju yi 303 leaning on a table before my guests arrive
bai ju yi 304 on east tower looking to the southeast
bai ju yi 305 presented to meng de, response to his poem about early spring in lo yang
bai ju yi 306 sent to four friends
bai ju yi 307 occasional song for a cool night
bai ju yi 308 by my north window, the rock and the bamboo
bai ju yi 309 an invitation for official zhou
bai ju yi 310 on the lake at night
bai ju yi 311 autumn begins and brings a sickness
bai ju yi 312 sitting by the fire again
bai ju yi 313 composed under the influence at the pavilion of awaited immortals
bai ju yi 314 atop the city wall
bai ju yi 315 walking alone
bai ju yi 316 confronting the wine, january 25, 833, sent to meng de
bai ju yi 317 inscribed at west torrent memorial on long men mountain
bai ju yi 318 on first entering xian shan temple
bai ju yi 319 the warmth of spring
bai ju yi 320 answering a poem from meng de
bai ju yi 321 reflections after seeing my young cousin’s poem
bai ju yi 322 characters carved on a rock
bai ju yi 323 on seeing the old su zhou boat
bai ju yi 324 sent to yang chao zhou
bai ju yi 325 response to new poems from yang the sixth
bai ju yi 326 while drinking wine, sent to master li the nineteenth
bai ju yi 327 delighting in the first coolness of autumn
bai ju yi 328 lying down
bai ju yi 329 occasional poem on the pursuit of pleasure
bai ju yi 330 li gong chui sends me a fine white horse
bai ju yi 331 composed lying abed
bai ju yi 332 a winter’s day, returning home late on level stream road
bai ju yi 333 lo fu stream
bai ju yi 334 my foot is still hurting
bai ju yi 335 the new wine is ready and i think of huang fu the tenth
bai ju yi 336 motion of events
bai ju yi 337 lingering after the banquet, a bit tipsy
bai ju yi 338 answering a poem about the new chrysanthemums
bai ju yi 339 the acacia flowers open, sent to meng de
bai ju yi 340 a playful contrast
bai ju yi 341 a playful response
bai ju yi 342 asking the young gentlemen
bai ju yi 343 the young men ask
bai ju yi 344 an idle song for the start of summer
bai ju yi 345 sent to governor yu ji you (1 of 3)
bai ju yi 346 sent to governor yu ji you (2 of 3)
bai ju yi 347 sent to governor yu ji you (3 of 3)
bai ju yi 348 a tipsy comment
bai ju yi 349 inscribed on the bookcase containing my writings
bai ju yi 350 taking tea after a nap
bai ju yi 351 the small terrace
bai ju yi 352 written while traveling
bai ju yi 353 about to return to the old village in wei, sent to a lian
bai ju yi 354 singing my feelings
bai ju yi 355 singing to myself
bai ju yi 356 lying down at ease, sent to meng de
bai ju yi 357 enjoyment of spring, inscribed at home gardens
bai ju yi 358 inscribing yet another short verse
bai ju yi 359 home garden (1 of 3)
bai ju yi 360 home garden (2 of 3)
bai ju yi 361 home garden (3 of 3)
bai ju yi 362 life in old age
bai ju yi 363 spring comes, and i frolic in the suburbs, sent to li the second
bai ju yi 364 the spring breeze brings a sigh (1 of 2)
bai ju yi 365 the spring breeze brings a sigh (2 of 2)
bai ju yi 366 answering duke pei du’s poem
bai ju yi 367 presented to the chatty guest
bai ju yi 368 climbing to the tower of the old gentleman
bai ju yi 369 expressing appreciation for lodging with royal attendant yang the sixth
bai ju yi 370 living an idle life at the end of spring
bai ju yi 371 the day spring ends drunk and singing, down at tian bridge, sent to li shen
bai ju yi 372 pursuing coolness by the pond (1 of 2)
bai ju yi 373 pursuing coolness by the pond (2 of 2)
bai ju yi 374 on xiang shan mountain, avoiding the heat (1 of 2)
bai ju yi 375 on xiang shan mountain, avoiding the heat (2 of 2)
bai ju yi 376 a fierce drought

lament everlasting lament everlasting






this first day of the seventh month

this first day of the seventh month
the colors of autumn spring forth
living here in sandal path ward
i range eye over the purity of scene

the first to engage my spirit, the forest
then slackening of rain on the pond
a cool wind rises– fresh, yes, fresh
young bamboo rises over by the old bridge

high, lush, grass by the riverside, green
blue the glint off the clifftop rock
shallow waters of the stream ripple clear
all this here, now, outside my central gate

snug down here within the mountain valley
my two servants attend me as i rest and sleep
a special one to support me as i walk around

the aroma of sesame rice finds me starving
the splendor of cloud mother broth brings a thirst
here today i have eveerything wished for in life
why look hard at future and miss this morning
i’ve left the court and city thoughts to weed

murphy carpe the hell at of diem






my fast ends today, april 19, 842, sent to my wife

the meat of the fish turned white as the snow
cassia and ginger sprinkled on the steaming flesh
rice blossoming red from fresh vinegar and soy
other choice meats adding their selves to the flavor
the bursting aroma of peppers and scallions
though growing old i still delight in good smells

three, no four grandchildren playing around me
all wanting to be fed, still playful, but hungry

my old mountain wife hasn’t begun to eat
i, her greedy old man, half finished with my feast
i remember when we first began to live together
so poor all we ate was the coarsest of grains
now though we can eat the finest delicacies
why must we always insist on pork and lamb

and look around at our close relatives
half the married couples are already gone

it’s not easy for a couple to get old together
yet why be bothered by all those white hairs
eat well, drink a little wine, get a bit tipsy
tipsy enough to burst into a singing mode

i think back to liang hong of the han
he loved the dao and delighted in poetry
his was the famous song of the fire
but his wife meng guang never heard it

murphy bucking it up to last the round






moved by the memory of old friends

grass grows wild around hui shu’s neglected tomb
the earth heaped over meng de’s grave is still damp
it’s been twelve years since wei zhi was lost to death
yao zhi’s mound has been settling for twenty years

their old houses remain empty in the city
gardens become wastelands covered in bramble
yes, their old letters still rest in their cases
but insects have turned them to remnants and dust

my good friends were a narrowness in number
i can count them on five fingers, on one hand
now four have gone first and left me behind
in a willow branch of a body sore decayed

how is it i mourn these friends in the evening of my years
yes, i have new friends to see, yet none talk heart to heart
never envy an old man for the length of his life
the longer you live, the longer the pain of separation

murphy paddling upwind as is his wont






leaning on a table before my guests arrive

i think less and less about officialdom
my years long, my body ugly, wrinkled
a purple sash, gold mean nothing to me now
when alone, at times, i lean on a table

i meditate, lie down, a book for my pillow
then sit up to read with a nice jug of wine
eventually a muddled sleep descends
the wine making bearable my withered decay

by the time the guests arrive i’m tipsy
i take off my turban and scratch my head
i am lazy and useless, a doddering fool
ashamed and embarrassed before kind friends

then i suddenly think of master zhuang’s words
how we cultivate both inner and outer beings

murphy floating off, up into the clouds






on east tower looking to the southeast

i never tire of this view to the southeast
on the river tower, facing the ocean’s gates
wind and waves arriving crisply, as expected
skies and heaven, joining seamlessly

a gull’s head turns, toward the moving clouds
geese return in harmony, to the whitecap waves
fish packed in salt, ready for the market
smoke and fire rising, showing the village

my bare legs shimmering, gold in the sun
mountain peaks glinting, turquoise hairpins
geese moving hundreds of miles, fleeing autumn
a lone monkey cries out, greeting the end of day

in hang zhou, sadness assuaged, looking with blurry eyes
no place better to be than on east tower facing southeast

murphy gaining perspective on the vastness of nature






presented to meng de, response to his poem about early spring in lo yang

everyone enjoys spring flowers, you alone love spring’s intent
it takes an old man like you to make sense of this intention
sitting through the night hours, spent candle guttering
sleeping late in the morning, snug bedcovers warm

cool breeze on the terrace, life sits here in harmony
the lush land by the pond, wet from water filled channels
the later flowers in bloom, their colors a brief beauty
the nightingale is silent, keeping close her thoughts

you are older than i, yet you are still in an abstaining fast
but welcoming spring brings an urge for tipsiness
which day would you prefer for a frolicking feast
perhaps the second day of the second month, a day to share hearts

murphy poking fun at his need for politeness






sent to four friends

fresh fragrance brings beauty to idle weeds
clusters of cliff-trees burst forth to their green
late spring comes deep in the mountain hollows
in the fourth month, the remnants of the season

a misting rain ends, revealing the bamboo temple
not a speck of dust seen on the old stone path
looking there i see one hermit in white garments
and four men of the dao in their priestly robes

the earth there is truly the earth of the buddha
and you are not common men in the mundane world
we parted in the towns below the sacred mountains
and i send you this poem to seal remembrance

murphy paying his respects to his elders






occasional song for a cool night

sun disappears west, behind the western slopes
north wind arrives, rises into the north window
the man inside, enjoys this welcome coolness
on his lonely single bed, listening to the wind and rain

the flurry of wings, birds pass up into the clouds
the new leaves have begun to give adequate shade
the bamboo is achieving a fine depth of color
the small pavilion by the pond, deeply hidden, alone

to be an idle official in service is to appreciate life
but it’s not easy to be appointed to such a sinecure

murphy opting to take full advantage of his position






by my north window, the rock and the bamboo

a rare rock showing the weather of age
a copse of thick deep-green bamboo
both looking at me as if they had feelings
i never tire of the eyesight of my heart

i look about beneath the north window
to the corner of the western ditch
where the bamboo scatters the breeze
the rain glistening green on the moss

i have a wife but we’re both far decayed
having no male children we are lonely, forlorn
at night i leave the windows wide open
how else should i lull myself to sleep

murphy appreciating where he is, right now






an invitation for official zhou

many people are here at the party
but no one seems to brighten my mood
the young ones won’t go off with me
and i want to have some walking time

with you perhaps, and this autumn night
both of us need the raising of spirits
we can be liberated with some wine
we can talk about poetry together

and we can both indulge in self pity
on becoming old without siring a son

murphy getting old, appreciating smaller parties






on the lake at night

the moon in the suburbs is a welcoming friend
dozing from wine, waking to a gentle breeze
who can ever govern his own drinking
tonight on the boat, with glowing red lanterns

murphy still frisky as a colt






autumn begins and brings a sickness

the first falling leaf of the wu tong tree
the sun half gone in its sag to the south
the afternoon light climbing up the steps
a cooling breeze reaches under my clothes

i’m sick, as emaciated as a stiff-leg crane
despondent, with unkempt duckweed hair
yet songs rise abundant within my hurting heart
as i lose myself within the wilderness of wine

the official carriage is happily left far behind
a long life has been achieved, and i’m still alive
and have resisted taking the fabled elixir of life
my only shame, becoming a white haired old man

murphy not springing back the way he used to






sitting by the fire again

the fire has died down, ashes grown cold
for ten days now people have made a fire
in the early part of spring when cold wind comes
cold hands long for the warmth of the stove

yes, i sat by this fire and its hearty welcome
it was a friendly fire sharing its hearth, its heat

murphy hating the cold, just hating the cold






composed under the influence at the pavilion of awaited immortals

xie an came down from the mountain empty handed
except for the little whore he brought along
liu hun sang poetic songs beside the lake
but their stories fade alongside today’s festivities

we find ourselves at the lakeside pavilion sniffing the flowers
while moth eyed beauties sing, to us, beside the still water

murphy sitting regal at the fete






atop the city wall

there on top the city wall
the big drum booms out
the call to morning court
the call to evening court

the sound upsets, intrudes
makes me loath to sally forth
it’s a hateful sound to hear
flowers fall for miles around

murphy already a crotchety old man






walking alone

i hum to myself, the daoist yellow court sutra
as i amble along, with my green bamboo cane
i rather enjoy walking alone, out in the forest
finding early bamboo shoots, midst some fading flowers

murphy always attentive to detail






confronting the wine, january 25, 833, sent to meng de

this morning finds you far away in wu
stuck here in lo i think about us two
i take pleasure in that thought, meng de
imagine both having passed sixty one years

murphy commisserating with his elderly contemporaries






inscribed at west torrent memorial on long men mountain

on the east bank fluttering, a flock of chrysanthemums
a mist billows in the willows shade, the flowers full open
this branch of the fall river, ablaze with a riot of color
waters just wide enough for a boat to pass slowly

except for bai, tutor to the prince, who else will come here

murphy nosing around where nobody goes






on first entering xian shan temple

so old i’m forced to retire to xian shan temple
the first night i look up to see the autumn moon
for now this white full moon is here, but soon she goes
and from now on family “mountain” moons will count

but let me dare ask the pure glowing maiden
do you really know what it is that’s coming next

murphy the statistician quoting the odds






the warmth of spring

the numbness of skin gives way to harmonious warnth
spring comes, makes my old legs feel lighter
spring brings the nightingale to nest beneath the flowers
spring induces the crane to walk the river’s edge

ny balding scalp is sensitive, hates the weight of my turban
decayed face frightens me, staring from my mirror
don’t ask me about my close friends and relatives
my outlook these days is most disconsolate

murphy denned up for the duration






answering a poem from meng de

youth long spent, i’m left with scraggly white hairs
i remember when we met, as if it were yesterday
you always passed the higher exams before me
i still follow afer you in perfecting my last few years

we both live in poverty, but still get through our days
we are old, but spring still lies smolders in our hearts
men such as us gather fame and glory, receive royal decrees
but how many of us officials live past seventy

murphy, bemused, in his 78th year






reflections after seeing my young cousin’s poem

i think how you’ve been posted to a border town
confronting the onset of autumn, far away from friends
for two years you served as censor and lived in poverty
now you have spent your eighth month in old pin zhou

take an interest in their reed and string instruments
try not to be too bothered by the sandy desert winds
don’t climb the tower to look homeward too often
better to limit how much your heart is harassed

murphy remembering the ache of separtion when leaving for college






characters carved on a rock

idly rowing a boat while i searched the old pond
who can predict when heartbreak comes back
three characters carved, there on the lake rock
chen jie zhi, fifteen years ago, she was my “peach leaf”

murphy becoming more and more nostalgic for his youth






on seeing the old su zhou boat

the great painted beams are rotted, decayed
the red frames of the windows broken
i stand alone at the edge of the pond
all day i look at that fractured boat

the old su zhou boat has crumpled and died
how can i not feel myself wither and decay

murphy facing the facts






sent to yang chao zhou

you sir were once the prime minister
and now just yang of old chao zhou
it was all just a dream, and now you dream on
what place do honor and shame have in a dream

it’s as things pass that you realize
not only is honor an empty game
but to feel shame at the emptiness

murphy telling war stories of his college days






response to new poems from yang the sixth

you have not reached the proper age quite yet
when you can finally put away your official carriage
so it isn’t right for you yet to pursue idleness
you shouldn’t be thinking of old man bai

it is right for healthy bodies to wear the ribbons
and high office is when your beard turns white
but the dust of the world never quits swirling around
better to ask yourself do i have the heart for leisure

advance or retreat, be right or be wrong, it’s all a dream
what difference is there between a palace and the mountains

murphy lamenting his lack of leisure time






while drinking wine, sent to master li the nineteenth

years ago i cast away sweet peach leaf
sent her off, over the river, away
last year i parted with willow branch
in the tower i watched her leave forever

sad and forlorn this spring’s arrival
i meet the season with a jug of wine
other than you, li, none know these feelings
when will the wind and the moon let us go

murphy sentimental, reliving the past






delighting in the first coolness of autumn

the months of steamy heat behind me
i greet the first coolness of autumn
it is good for my sickly, ever older body
no more sweaty clothes by midmorning

tonight pillow and bed will befriend me
the delicate, slivered moon rise above the tower
the slight breeze of the night sweep along the shore
we poets are the first to be moved by time and scene

murphy surfing the curling wave of change






lying down

i eat so little i might as well be fasting
i’ve become a hermit doing nothing all day
but the buddha has allowed me to be a disciple
and fate has given me a life with time for leisure

i situate my bed so i can see out to water
the cool breeze sifts through my hair
swirling and lifting, why wear my turban

murphy giving his heart to leisure






occasional poem on the pursuit of pleasure

before i had little idle time for pursuing pleasure
since then i’ve been slow to indulge in things i missed
though i’m never behind going to view as blooms first open
and i am the first to know when a family’s wine is ready
i play my reed pipe in the cool breezes of gold valley
and find time for the joy of dancing beside “willow branch”

ten springs here i heard the nightingale’s song return
but for the three after i’ve watched “moth eyebrows” decline
until you have experienced such as this you don’t know
the implacability of fate brings only more white hairs

murphy watching his contemporaries decline






li gong chui sends me a fine white horse

a slender quick white horse, deserving her halter of gold
neck a frame for silver blossoms, tail a trail of white thread
both spirited and well trained, praised by all who ride her
skin color fresh and alive, she’s a treat for the eyes

a true gift sent to my humble place, and not in exchange for a concubine
my servant parades her to me so i can make my mount
i neither spur nor unnerve her, we take an easy stride of pace
oh how fine it will be, taking her on tipsy mountain rides

murphy remembering his mother making him write thankyou notes






composed lying abed

my congested lungs have caused my old head to ache
my sinews stilled, suppleness gone, blood hardly flowing
yes, from now one i willingly lie down, a wasted remnant
left with only my memories, those elegant frolics, we together

since remembering the past is to enter a dream
i set senses adrift and dream of what’s left
my spirit still strong down in heart’s quiet room
my boats are unloaded, nor wind nor storm do i fear

i take time to sip some wine, pine blossom wine
i cover my cold knees with a warm cassia cloth
ask me if i’m worried by this current illness
and i’d say no, i know it’s heaven’s mandate

murphy the old fatalist, trudging through a downpour






a winter’s day, returning home late on level stream road

mountain roads can be hard to travel, the sun so quickly sets
i see village smoke, frost on the tree where the crow will nest
i wonder why should i be in such a rush to get home tonight
three cups of warm wine will fix me up, make me right at home

murphy making sure to bundle up for the wintry wind






lo fu stream

on the eastern bank there is on old country store
there where the field flowers are strewn about
the stream is called lo fu, the name of an ancient beauty
where now are her fragrant soul and bewitching bones
the grasses of spring cover all the ground, nowhere the grave

murphy watching individual waves go by, none the same






my foot is still hurting

my foot is still hurting, neither better nor worse
right through the spring, then into summer
and now autumn is almost gone, i laugh
i tip the jug to fill my cup with wine

instead of a stroll i take the boat around the pond
luckily i still have enough for food and clothes
and do not worry that my family will lack
after this body of mine has withered away

now i have the leisure to study the path of the dao
like tao yuan ming, entrust heart and body to each passing moment

murphy easing on down the road






the new wine is ready and i think of huang fu the tenth

the new wine is ready to drink, when will my old friend come
since we separated at golden valley i haven’t gotten really drunk
so drunk as to be like the proverbial crumbling of jade mountain

i have been remiss in seeking out the basin called willow blossoms
i have been sad and lonely without that cup called lotus leaf
this winter when i open my wool bed curtains i will ask them
there, out through the snow, who is it that comes visiting here

murphy appreciative of companionship






motion of events

all blessing, all disasters, happen by chance
they can’t be planned for in most things
those who have foreknowledge retire early
older men should choose today to leave office

you will experience what i have all the time
living alone up here on blue green mountain

those who meet disaster and are gone
never have the chance to take up the lute
they cannot follow a yellow dog hunting rabbits

yes, the unicorn and the dragon are now minced meat
far better to be a turtle dragging his tail in the mud

murphy calm, pulse steady, alert and ready






lingering after the banquet, a bit tipsy

within a nine-candled terrace, twelve beauties
the host keeping hold of his eminent guests
tipsily inviting us all to enjoy as we wish

the sleeves of the dancers, fluttering flairs of butterflies
the hypnotic sweetness of their songs, threaded pearls of tone
after a while, sobering up, i begin to drink more wine
to probe within the depths of night til light begins again

then we scatter with our drunken steps
southern mountain guests
eastern mountain women
has there ever been such a raucus frolic

murphy bleary eyed at dawn






answering a poem about the new chrysanthemums

a lofty man sings carefree verse about chrysanthemums
while a sick one, saddened by autumn, thinks only of decay
yellow blossoms deepening his mood, a perfect time for wine
red leaves adding their melancholy, falling and filling the stairs
this recluse has put aside his meat and garlic diet

and, to whom, may i ask, does “sir immortal” offer his wine
this man here, chagrined, sitting below the eastern eaves
for you i’ll break the fast on the day of double nines

murphy rsvping






the acacia flowers open, sent to meng de

i was late in transplanting the acacia by a month
the blossoms are late by more than half a year
they open to their redness on this late autumn day
and join back together again with the fall of night

dawn brings its white dew, but they are not yet dead
a cool wind blows and they are once again refreshed
who else will be here now to notice and admire them

murphy a man even the plants respond to






a playful contrast

your mansion with its pond is resplendent
standing in the ward of assembled worthies
but don’t overlook my forest pavilion
deep within the sandal path ward

i can often be found visiting there
its small size may be bothersome
but year after year it soothes my feelings

murphy an habitue of hidey holes






a playful response

how can i spend all my time ambling along the western dikes
to indulge my idle ways i will always frolic hither and yon
though i find solace and recluse behind my garden gates
i can’t lock my old body inside there each and every night

murphy an itchy footed man






asking the young gentlemen

a thousand poems piled on my green jade table
ten measures of wine poured into bright gold cups
let me look around and ask these young gentlemen
now do you see how i became a wild old man

murphy revving up his party mode






the young men ask

the young men chide me for my drinking and singing ways
i say to them, you know my special name “delight in heaven”
that is not too far from the mark for me in my old age
my worries are slight and few, my delights deep and many

murphy finally figuring out how to play the game






an idle song for the start of summer

the first month of summer is a true harmony
and i am a captal official free with idle time
my body is well with no pain or sickness
the only sadness is what i hear of worldly things

so i rejoice when i can see old friends
invite them to tarry for a cup or two of wine
indulgently i ask my mistress to entertain
i sit and enjoy the pastime of an elder

my white hair sits atop my aged body
but my heart is still young and resides at peace
with the clouds above, their special freedom
that is what i am trying to translate to self

murphy relishing his revery






sent to governor yu ji you (1 of 3)

one can have flowers and wine, music and song
but they never replace meeting old friends
a spring rain breezes over the nearby river
this white haired prefect has saddened of late

murphy moping on a rainy summer day






sent to governor yu ji you (2 of 3)

the music of ping yang pleases this royal attendant
three years out in zhe dong where you can’t hear such
the music of wu and yue is sensuous, improper
don’t let those lewd sounds sneak into your ears

murphy still preferring cajun music, after all these years






sent to governor yu ji you (3 of 3)

i remember the golden voices of your singing girls
old yan would always call their tones pearls of jade
but the sea, with its salt and fish smells, hurts the voice
does it break your heart when you listen to them there

murphy singing back to the radio






a tipsy comment

a fish that lives in the deepest of the ocean’s depths
has little worry that an angler will drop his hook
a bird that flies high in the upper reaches of heaven
will never find itself enmeshed in a hunter’s net

why struggle to be the first to warm your hands by the fire
by the time of remorse it’s too late to try to make amends
one is persuaded by the wine jug standing ready
on the splendid carpet the color of monkey’s blood

and like a swallow building a nest on a curtain
one should consider this oft told saying
most people come to grief through their own choosing

murphy learning early the value of quietude and cover






incribed on the bookcase containing my writings

cedar sawn to boards for my bookcase
the case sturdy, the wood strong
whose collection of writings lie within
bai ju yi, i who has devoted a life time to writing

childhood to old age, seventy chapters in all
i’ve saved both the short forms and the long
over three thousand pieces i’ve written down
which, in the end, will be scattered and lost

but i can’t bear to simply to throw them away
this is one case i open and lock myself
it rests right before my favorite study

like zheng bai dao in life i have no sons
unlike wang zhong xuan i am no genius
all i can do is ask my daughter to take them
she and her children can save them for the world

murphy a pack rat of scribblings






taking tea after a nap

last night i got drunk, world spinning drunk
stayed like that all through the night til dawn
this morning after an early, hardy breakfast
off into a deep sleep til i awoke refreshed

i rubbed my eyes and saw emptiness before them
i went to walk about the pond to achieve solitude
under green leaves of a tree, a flickering shade
green moss growing in patches around the trunk

here i have a rope bed arranged for me to lie in
i ask that a serving of tea be brought around
the white porcelain pot flawless in its sheen
coal heated water in bulging fish-eye boil

a fragrance rising from beneath the bubbles
yellow flowers afloat, pale red the water
a proper steeping achieving the finest of colors
then the treat, the aroma lingering after the taste

aside from governor yang mu chao
who else could appreciate such a tea

murphy gaining the paunch of a country squire






the small terrace

the newly planted trees a low curtain below
the small terrace intimate as the palm of my hand
here a six foot wide rattan bed for my leisure
i have brought nothing with me but my green bamboo cane

a breeze blows dried bits from the bamboo stand
the crane is scratching up the pond side moss
who is there who would seek this small place
someone who comes here alone, on his own

murpy seeking seclusion and finding it






written while traveling

up with the sun i ride in my sedan chair
wine cup brings tipsiness before the sun stops rising
each night i leave the sedan chair to take my rest
then wake up again, fresh at first light of day

my body has no task to set itself to do
my heart carries no worrisome thoughts
0nly the two sages of shang mountain, qi and li
could ever describe the taste of these days

murphy becoming better at always living in the moment






about to return to the old village in wei, sent to a lian

year after year i have felt my body decay
day after day more aware of new weakness
i sing with the moon, play with the breeze
but rarely climb mountains or travel rivers

poor as old zi ping yet i have managed
all my daughters successfully married off
like old yuan liang i return drunk to my garden
i send word to my younger brother a lian

clear the brushwood gate
let us share some wine

murphy cleaning out his desk at work






singing my feelings

i move at idle ease trusting all to the hand of fate
i don’t enter court and stay up in the mountains
my heart an empty floating boat carried by the waters
my body that of a bird snug in a forest nest

i have met all the marriage obligations of a father
i have no encumbrances, my official seal is returned
my poor household things can be given to others
i have no concerns that linger, i am free to die

murphy watching his children grow away






singing to myself

all the little things that bother
everything, stems from one’s destined way
this decayed frame offers weak support
this frail body can hardly stand alone

if i struggle to find times of leisure
a monk is by far the busier of us two
if i look around to compare weights
that crane outside, stilt legged, is fatter

when old age arrives, one’s socks grow looser
with a cooler breeze, heavy cotton is worn
as a horse munches grass even in halter
as a bird pecks his cage as he flits about

i seek a natural balance with the way of things
don’t ask me anything about what’s right or wrong

murphy amused at his arthritis






lying down at ease, sent to meng de

the bedding is soft, the screen is low
this tipsy, befuddled old man lies down
the tea is ready, its aroma sharpens senses
the mid-day sun warms my now frail body

the lute lies near, my friend in old age
i welcome spring, my jug never empty
the flavor of idleness satisfies me
if only my friend meng de were here

murphy companionless these last few days






enjoyment of spring, inscribed at home gardens

i hear that the young and healthy go out every day
seeking to take advantage of what spring offers
as heaven has given me ample idle time i do also
and many people have made available their fine gardens

i have become infatuated with what i see
and as yet find no grief within my heart
what i’ve experienced all through my life
can’t compare with what i now am doing

murphy taking full advantage of every day






inscribing yet another short verse

my looks have gotten old with advancing years
but spring invariably brings its excessive excitement
wherever i see in the distance a home with flowers
i go visit there whether they are friends or strangers

murphy becoming less polite as he grows older






home garden (1 of 3)

it is difficult to travel to cang lang gorge
the distant way up through the zi ling rapids
those deep waters beyond hard to reach
but can they compare with my family pond

here i can walk across to a small pavilion
there just below the stairs to my bedroom
i take out my fishing pole to dangle my line

murphy insytantly aware of a new, especial place






home garden (2 of 3)

on occasion to get drunk
under the eaves was the place
sneaking away from officialdom
carrying a full jug of the finest

how can that compare to my own home brew
the two fish shaped wine casks full
here on a snowy night, or at blossom times
the scene, the flowers, there before me

murphy dizzy with fullness of feeling






home garden (3 of 3)

doves fear capture so don’t let you close
cage a parrot and he will stand aloof
neither can compare to my two white cranes
both idly stepping along right by my side

murphy more in touch with feral animals than with tamed






life in old age

as age creeps on i more and more look back on my life
frolicking away the days, drunken poems at night
like tao yuan ming i only plant millet in my fields
like deng you i have no sons to carry on for me

so no worries about leaving money for anyone
i have no interest in pursuing glory and honor
in the world of man i prefer to be idle, alone in the forest

walking there bothersome thoughts slip away
year by year my empty heart heals itself

murphy old enough to know better






spring comes, and i frolic in the suburbs, sent to li the second

fresh breeze under a warming sun invited our steps
wine made us happy between song mountain and lo river
we would see off the old year and welcome the spring mornings
we would go forth together walking among new-fallen flowers

of an evening we would watch the birds in flight
and stay for a while in the darkness of night

i am a sick old man and should withdraw from life
but you, a talented official, should not be idle
it’s too bad that you would have to give up your duties
to come with me to see the rivers and climb the mountains

murphy missing his colleagues but satisfied with his own self






the spring breeze brings a sigh (1 of 2)

the snow, gone now, tree roots showing
the flowers, budding, ready to bloom
the ice, vanished from the pond shore
the grass there, growing, nascent green

only my frosted bearded remains unchanged
spring breeze, is it only me you fail to give rebirth

murphy looking forward to fall more and more






the spring breeze brings a sigh (2 of 2)

today i ended my purification fast
it’s been too long since i drank wine
if you don’t urge me to fill the cups
you are as unfeeling as this spring breeze

murphy never needing an excuse to forge ahead






answering duke pei du’s poem

the courtyard of “wilderness green” contains much beauty
all the passersby will say it is the home of duke pei du
whose affiliates, his peaches and plums, proliferate
why should he need to plant so many flowers before his home

murphy smoothing his relationship with a superior






presented to the chatty guest

the honored guest chatters, on and on of the finer things
but as a forlorn old man, my thoughts are grievous, sad
please don’t bother me with the latest from chang an
the pure breeze on my face is tuned only to the lute

murphy discarding the weight of the world






climbing to the tower of the old gentleman

a light breeze in sunshine, fire, and smoke rising
the pure clear day wrung by grief, songs and crying
both grief and pleasure intertwined down in the city
but how can anything not flow east on the lo river

someone’s family has a burial, out on north mang hill
an endless stream of carts and horses, over center bridge
at the lower crossing, a steady stream of boats unload
even liao dong the old gentleman, the immortal crane, turns away

murphy the empath, shieldless to the feelings of others






expressing appreciation for lodging with royal attendant yang the sixth

turbans removed, agreeable quiet words
exchanged on night of a brightness of moon
side by side we slept til we saw morning
we walked out to be among falling flowers
the second and third month only the stirrings of spring

for seven or eight years now, no more attendance at early court
it is hard to consider equal, pure dust and muddy water
but a lordly roc shares idle ease with a lowly quail
in my mind’s eye i see you leaving to colorful heavens
but i must ask you please, stay a few more days with me

murphy learning politesse at his mother’s knee






living an idle life at the end of spring

i idle away time in my boat on the pond
stay behind closed doors to hide my withered body
loath to show myself to the few guests that might come
my sadness intensifies, the late night rain lingers

a nightingale remains behind, makes this her home
she seems to call on spring to return to its beginning
i take up the wine jug, sneak a few sips of the new brew
then open my chest and put on old hemp clothes

summer linens then winter’s furs come soon enough
slipping into old age, the glow and shadow of time rushing by

murphy intensifying his focus on moment






the day spring ends drunk and singing, down at tian bridge, sent to li shen

a ceaseless rain lashed the tian jin bridge
washing away every speck of dust or mud
as it slowly clears i welcome early summer
a setting sun sends off remnant spring

when i get excited i sing my poetry
when i get wild i ply my body with wine
i stroll high above the water’s edge
i stand discomfited above the bridge

only a tutor to the crown prince
with a heart filled with old feelings
but you, sir, have political fortune
now the master of three streams

while this breeze and this scene
belong only to this idle old man

murphy tuning up the old gibson






pursuing coolness by the pond (1 of 2)

green moss on the ground disperses afternoon heat
i pursue coolness in the shade under green trees
wearing light sandals, thin clothes, a cotton cap
by the shore of the shallow pond a low rattan bed

officials may accuse me of thin, selfish feelings
but it is rock and stream which call to me
they hold my interest and the feeling lasts

when i ask my friends about an old age plan
they say to take things quietly, don’t busy about

murphy solitudinous in his predilections






pursuing coolness by the pond (2 of 2)

resting on a high pillow at ease with life
idle riding in a little boat, a plentiful sleep
bald servants rowing me along the river banks

slender maidens boiling tea and attending me
on the red dust earth before my gates
beyond the forest beats the bright red sun

i relax under the influence of a good breeze
not a thing do i do, time floats by

murphy patient in his pursuit of leisure






on xiang shan mountain, avoiding the heat (1 of 2)

in this, the sixth month, the sound of the rapids, a fierce rain
i am in the northern side of xiang shan tower, a temple room

like a monk i rise in the depths of the night
lean on the balustrade, fill my ears with flowing water
face out, welcome the soft, cool breeze

murphy distinguishing quietude from white noise






on xiang shan mountain, avoiding the heat (2 of 2)

i wear my cotton turban and the soft grass sandals
my clothes are worn, peasant, comfortable garments
i am going down xiang shan mountain at night

half-way there, on a road of cool breeze
five or six miles lying in my wicker sedan
what a pleasant sleep on the way back

murphy taking every advantage he can






a fierce drought

a fine dust suddenly fills the air, a gust of new winds
the fierce sun glows red through the swirling gloom
a bird in flight twists, falls awkwaedly to the ground
a traveller passes whose thirst is making him crazed

strong, thin young people can barely not starve
an always fire of hunger in their empty bellies
the lazy fatter ones can’t bear the heat, wheezing
a sullen sweat runs off them in a viscous flow

in such times it’s not harmful to be old and thin
the flesh is light, the feet firm, only a little hair
my head is cool and i exist eating only a little
neither starved nor thirsty, sitting idle in old clothes

my meal a few teaspoons of cold rice gruel
wearing only an old, worn, thin silk garment
that is the way i pass my days in time of drought
making sure not to challenge this summer’s heat

murphy remembering when he was whipcord lean






lament everlasting


the emperor of china was fond of beautiful women
and sent minions throughout his realm to search for them
but for years he was never presented with his ideal
then there came word of a maiden of the family yang
young, precious, and raised in protection from all men
she was quickly accepted to be at the emperor’s side

heaven had endowed her with beauty impossible to ignore
a wealth of seductive arts apparent in each smiling glance
every other woman in the women’s quarters drab in comparison

the emperor, on a crisp spring day, had her bathed
her maids supporting her in soothing hot springs
her firm white flesh languishing in the waters
weakened, bereft of strength, she was helped to rise
then it was his physical admiration first engulfed her

clouds of hair piled above her flowered face
golden hairpins quivered under warm bedclothes
they spent the spring nights which seemed too short
they remained abed long after the sun rose
the emperor no longer held his early morning court


she became the fixed object of the royal pleasure
they were inseparable at the unending feasts
their day’s joys merging with the nights of ecstasy
the emperor, owner of three thousand harem beauties
had eyes for only one, had devotion to the maiden yang

she adorned only the golden rooms
sharing nights with him in seductive play
rising from banquets in the jade tower

her sisters and brothers all prospered
became the envy of all rank and distinction

hearts of parents throughout the empire
hoping for the birth of such a worthy girl
palace heights were dreaming clouds
where gods’ own music made the breeze

the harmony of the flutes and strings
songs of leisure, delicate dances, everywhere
day followed day, the emperor there, insatiable


but suddenly a new melody came from the north
war drums of the barbarians, shaking the earth
the performance dance “rainbow garments” stopped
terror ensued, the invader’s dust rose to the lookout towers
the emperor and his retinue force to flee south

then it happened, thirty-odd miles beyond the capital
the brightly colored standards suddenly stopped

all the six armies refused to march further
miss “moth eyebrows” yang had to be killed
they all would witness sitting in their saddles

her golden hairpins fell to the ground, ignored
followed by her feathered, jade, and gold ornaments
the helpless emperor covered his face, averting his eyes
he cried loudly, piteously, the loss of his life’s blood


a desolate wind scattered a fine yellow dust
under a profusion of madly whieling clouds
the refugees climbed toward lofty “sword pavilion”

the o mei mountains are rarely travelled
the sun’s light thin light showed them only dimly
the royal standards lusterless in the dim glow

the rich greens of the hillside and the river
intensified the emperor’s feelings of loss
the sight of monlight afflicted him
a bell in evening rain tolled his heartbreak


then heaven and earth reversed fortunes
the royal carriage came back to the capital

but it went no further than to her grave
he peered down at the mud covering ma wei
her jade face to be exchanged for a tomb

tears wet the robes of emperor and ministers
then he galloped east, bound for the capital


his ponds and gardens were the same as before
the hibiscus in its place, the willow still there
her face like hibiscus, her eyebrows like the willow
he could never stop the tears from flowing

peach and plum still blossomed every spring
wu tung trees still shed leaves in autumn rain
the faslling leaves piled up in his courtyard
unswept redness covering the palace stairs

workers in the pear garden turn white with age
the youth of the harem eunuchs fade away

watching fireflies stirs his feeling of loneliness
watching sleepless as the lamp flickers and dies

the slow beating drum iof the night, slows
the bright starlit ribbon of river, glows

tiled eaves of love bird nests congealed in ice
cold bedcovers making it hard to get warm


a year goes by since death and life were parted
and not once does her spirit enter his dreams
a daoist adept was found, intimate of immortals
embodiment of truth, he could reach the souls of the dead

sensing the emperor’s incessant desire
the daoist reached for her with diligence
he pushed aside clouds
he rode the heavens on lightning
searched for her in heaven and on earth

he soared the bluest of skies above
plummeted to the yellow springs below
in neither infinity did he find traces
but he chanced upon a mountain of immortals
looming from a mist and void on the sea

a many storied pavilion came into view
delicately thrust into the rainbow clouds
truly the residence of refined immortals

one there among them, the one called “great truth”
face of a flower with flesh of snow, white
who could it be but the maiden of the family yang


in the west chamber of the golden palace
he taps politely on a carved jade door
her servant little jade bows graciously
her slumbering spirit hidden behind resplendent curtains

discovering the daoist was an envoy of the emperor
her slumbering spirit jerked awake in startled amazement
she tossed aside her pillows, quickly dressed
began pacing in a frantic consternation

the silver screen and pearl curtains parted
revealing a half awake yound woman
she entered the parlor, headdress in disarray
her cloudlike tresses tousled, awry

her fairy raiments rippled in the breeze
swaying to the song of the rainbow goddess
her jade countenance mournful at the balustrade
tear stained, a pear blossom in a spring rain

eyes brimming with her feelings
she tanked the envoy for his message


then she said

“a single parting but an immeasurable void
the oneness of our love in the palace gone forever
how long the days and nights in my spirit chamber

i look down on the dusty realm below
tearning to see the capital of memory
but fog enshrouds the earth far below
please give my emperor this jewel box and hairpin
symbols of the deep love i have for him”

she broke each object in two

“i wish only that his heart beats for me
and is as steadfast as the gold of this hairpin
rither in the world of life or death
i know we will never meet again”


as the daoist prepared to leave
maiden yang begged him to impart a vow
shared by two hearts alone

“it was at the palace of longevity
the seventh day of the seventh moon
a time of night when whispered words went unrevealed

to be on earth as linked branches of a tree
to be in heaven as one-winged birds
heaven is long and earth is old
but each has its alloted time
my lament is everlasting”

murphy pondering his latest koan




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