murphy’s bai ju yi later years 200s

bai ju yi 200 early winter
bai ju yi 201 buying wine and drinking with liu meng de
bai ju yi 202 excursion to the west
bai ju yi 203 returning east
bai ju yi 204 with meng de answering niu seng ru’s poem
bai ju yi 205 an autumn night sleeping during rain
bai ju yi 206 after purification, thinking of meng de
bai ju yi 207 tasting wine, hearing songs, summoning guests
bai ju yi 208 facing a jug of wine january 25, 833
bai ju yi 209 drunken song for early spring
bai ju yi 210 spring carousal in lo yang
bai ju yi 211 response to a poem by official shu
bai ju yi 212 finding joy
bai ju yi 213 sent to huang fu the sixth, zhang the fiteenth, and li the thenty-third, tutors to the crown prince
bai ju yi 214 idly singing by the pond
bai ju yi 215 sighing with the cool wind
bai ju yi 216 seeing off examiner cai as he leaves for the capital
bai ju yi 217 seeing off yang the eighth
bai ju yi 218 hearing on old friend’s poem sung
bai ju yi 219 drunkenly taking leave of talented master cheng
bai ju yi 220 a song of person
bai ju yi 221 taking up the wine thinking only of idle things
bai ju yi 222 questioning myself
bai ju yi 223 xiang shan temple (first of two poems)
bai ju yi 224 xiang shan temple (second of two poems)
bai ju yi 225 a spring welcoming for master zhang, tutor to the crown prince
bai ju yi 226 arranging idle time
bai ju yi 227 on sleeping late
bai ju yi 228 within the night of the third day, eighth month
bai ju yi 229 answering meng de’s poem “for the end of autumn”
bai ju yi 230 answering meng de’s poem “sitting alone in autumn”
bai ju yi 231 answering meng de’s poem “on a wintry moon-filled night”
bai ju yi 232 a heedless old man
bai ju yi 233 for governor pei he at a spring night picnic
bai ju yi 234 sent to meng de
bai ju yi 235 the stream west of my house
bai ju yi 236 feeling lonesome in early fall
bai ju yi 237 finishing the month of fasting and cleansing
bai ju yi 238 idle in lo yang written while drunk
bai ju yi 239 thinking of huang fu, opening wine on a wintry night
bai ju yi 240 joy for a granddaughter one month old
bai ju yi 241 an idle song sent to huang fu’s father
bai ju yi 242 meng de is sick and i pay a call
bai ju yi 243 a playful response sent to si yin
bai ju yi 244 a joking response about madness
bai ju yi 245 snowfall in lo yang to be shared with liu yu xi
bai ju yi 246 playful words for duke pei who presents me with a horse
bai ju yi 247 answering huang fu’s poem on early spring
bai ju yi 248 frolic in the mountains with a sing song girl
bai ju yi 249 improvised verse sent to lang zhi
bai ju yi 250 poem composed south of dragon lake
bai ju yi 251 sitting in idleness
bai ju yi 252 a playful question for marshal niu
bai ju yi 253 retiring
bai ju yi 254 sick with a painful ulcer
bai ju yi 255 yesterday and again today
bai ju yi 256 what the visitor said
bai ju yi 257 answering what the visitor said
bai ju yi 258 a spring day at leisure (1 of 3)
bai ju yi 259 a spring day at leisure (2 of 3)
bai ju yi 260 a spring day at leisure (3 of 3)
bai ju yi 261 in the summer of 837 listening to the cicadas, sent to liu yu xi
bai ju yi 262 passing by yong ning
bai ju yi 263 floating on the pond
bai ju yi 264 strolling along the dikes of lo yang
bai ju yi 265 sent to minister li
bai ju yi 266 seeing off yao as he leaves for hang zhou
bai ju yi 267 the beginning of winter, the wine is ready (1 of 2)
bai ju yi 268 the beginning of winter, the wine is ready (1 of 2)
bai ju yi 269 old age goes on and on
bai ju yi 270 up in the mountains
bai ju yi 271 up in the mountains again
bai ju yi 272 inscribed on the old grass hut at lu shan
bai ju yi 273 change in lifestyle
bai ju yi 274 granted an edict to serve as prefect of tong zhou, but i am sick and do not serve. here i record my feelings
bai ju yi 275 may 5th 840, the day that ends spring
bai ju yi 276 poem of leisure
bai ju yi 277 planting willows (1 of 3)
bai ju yi 278 planting willows (2 of 3)
bai ju yi 279 planting willows (3 of 3)
bai ju yi 280 playful poem for liu meng de on setting free our slave girls
bai ju yi 281 inspired from a dream
bai ju yi 282 a perfect ease
bai ju yi 283 weeping over the death of shi hao, my sister’s husband
bai ju yi 284 sitting at ease in the small pavilion
bai ju yi 285 answering niu seng ru’s poem
bai ju yi 286 a spring amble along west lake
bai ju yi 287 sitting at night above the small terace, thinking of meng de
bai ju yi 288 given to the monks at the temple on orphan mountain
bai ju yi 289 for friends who worry about my having retired
bai ju yi 290 without shame
bai ju yi 291 poem for the sing song women about the woman who sells brushwood
bai ju yi 292 the leisurely comforts of old age
bai ju yi 293 freshly bathed
bai ju yi 294 singing at leisure over wine, a poem sent to those old as i am
bai ju yi 295 where to avoid the heat of summer, sent to intendant yang
bai ju yi 296 idly written for daoist zhang by the family pond
bai ju yi 297 medicine isn’t the answer
bai ju yi 298 in a small garden, note to self
bai ju yi 299 reading at leaisure, sent to young friends






bai ju yi 200

early winter

green wool curtains keep the room warm
joyful time of light snow fall
red earthen stove providing ample heat
keeping the cold outside the door

short snippets of poems race from my brush
won’t you come join with me to sing
the wine bubbles in a new ferment
won’t you come drink along with me

the priest comes to beg for food
my friend arrives to pour some wine
we enjoy it, together again
on the verge of old age with friends

please forgive me if i invite even more
i am eclectic in choosing companions

murphy ever the gracious host






bai ju yi 201

buying wine and drinking with liu meng de

when we were young we worried little about money
why worry about buying wine when we’re old
we both take along ten thousand strings of cash
to go and buy several gallons of good wine

then we turn to look at each other and laugh
both sixty seven years old and still frisky
we spend our time reading classics and histories
in accord with the model for an elegant life

then we get drunk and listen to music and song
now that the chrysanthemums have yellowed
the home brew has come into its own
we share our drunkenness, our mellowing from wine

murphy seeking joy in life to the very end






bai ju yi 202

excursion to the west

my clothes are not patched nor are they thin
my carriage horses are not emaciated, nor weak
a luxuriant spring day is not so badly spent
on a carefree excursion traveling to the west

past the flowing waters at the palace of long life
toward the green mountains of cliff rock county
willows shading the way along the official road
flowers lying thick around the interim palace

i have often heard the folk wisdom which says
“rich men spend their time in pleasure”
though i am not a wealthy man at all
nor am i in any way destitute

as i am carried around i always carry my drinking cup
my family servants are accomplished in music
i stop at times to face the spring breeze
pleasantly at leisure, full cup in hand

murphy thinking things couldn’t be better






bai ju yi 203

returning east

the light movement of a well-carried sedan chair
within a drunken old man sitting at ease
poetry scroll spread in his lap, flat above knees
full wine jug hanging on a bamboo pole
eating and sleeping on an unfixed schedule
servants, horses moving along as they please
when they come to water, a half day’s rest

looking up at mountains i tilt my cup
i spread some grass to sit on the ground
get up, pick a few flowers, look around
i feel a cool breeze, see beautiful view
body at ease, comforted from worldly cares

it was then i came to realize this truth
to those who always strive to get ahead
home is always “traveling-on-the-road”
and i knew that to the spiritually free
“finding-the dao” is like living at peace

last night i found lodging at the three hills
this morning i was carried past monkey lake
a hundred more miles to reach the eastern capital
all to be shared with last glory of spring

murphy enamored with leisure time






bai ju yi 204

with meng de answering niu seng ru’s poem

at huai nan he unfolds the blood red banner
at lo yang he turns back to face the white clouds
the ministers meet in their hall of political events
the generals earn their way by blood on the field

palace city left behind to the moon and the mist
here gates block only some of the breeze and the light
this is the way of old, we are wild with poems and wine
but don’t forget for a moment, us, the old men, bai and liu

murphy hobnobbing with the royalty






bai ju yi 205

an autumn night sleeping during rain

cold, clear night, deep in autumn
a lazy old man, taking his ease
lying down late, at candle’s end
slipping to sleep, midst sounds of rain

embers still glow in lodge fire pit
warm the wine, perfume the room
under covers again, entranced with its fragrance
warm and snug, refuse to rise at dawn

clear, cold day, with gusty wind
dead leaves strewn on the staircase

murphy enjoying all he has left






bai ju yi 206

after purification, thinking of meng de

a small lamp above, gauze-blurred
before the simple altar
purified and fasting
a night sitting in zen

thoughts outside of body
free, to never return
an always breathing thereness
tomorrow back to wine

but tonight, now, i go to temple
to listen to the music, to the chimes
and if you should come there to meet me
bring a young girl, a young scattering flower

murphy accepting the connectedness of it all






bai ju yi 207

tasting wine, hearing songs, summoning guests

a fresh jug of fragrant wine, bamboo filter in place
the sing song girl with two plaids sings for a while
she is newly taught and shows great improvement
though dress of silken gauze is not of the best
it is only an outside encumbrance

the world has such a need for monetary things
that it forgets how ephemeral some things are
the only answer in this world of men is to drink
lest the multitude see down to your sadness

i don’t know if you are of the same mind about it
but if you are come with me and we will party

murphy comfortable within the ritual of greeting






bai ju yi 208

facing a jug of wine january 25, 833

cui and i passed the exams
together that same wonderful year
but where is he now
and du, he was there too

now even he is gone
there no way i can avoid it
so i will enjoy myself
bring delight to my last good days

nurphy stubbornly appreciative of the aberrance of his ways






bai ju yi 209

drunken song for early spring

on snowy nights i temper my pursuit of pleasure
bathed in the warming glow of a candle
when flowers bloom i venture outside
and always take along an ample jug

but since my friend chu left i share few poems
it’s rare to meet a scholar such as he

old age goes on without my drinking friends
and you go on to make a great name for yourself
you have beaten back the northern enemy
people thrive under your benevolent rule

but i still wonder about some things
such as lazy indulgence to wine and song
maybe that’s where i will make my mark
make known this drunken man from ho nan

murphy grinning in the soft light of a bar






bai ju yi 210

spring carousal in lo yang

don’t bemoan the fact your years are almost gone
embrace the one you find before you now
three years in office i celebrated the new year
five times in lo yang i enjoyed the year end festival

trees blossom early, rice ripens into pearls
pools of rain from spring floods yield to yellow dust
a young woman in her springtime is willowy, weak
young horses in their springtime are spirited, strong

as young men we assembled, reins and whips in line
later, leisurely passed wine around before plates of food
i sometimes walk through the old neighborhoods
in earnest pursuit of what might be left of old friends

we find laughing words with which to pass the day
sing tipsy songs as an old man takes his leave
such joy and pleasure one always pursues
this experience of plenitude, all one’s long life

murphy holding fast to his determined frolics






bai ju yi 211

response to a poem by official shu

it was fifty days ago i applied for extended leave
i remember their passing as a blur of lassitude
old age has succeeded in its creep to my front door
a demented guest that greets this very sick man

blossoms of willow cover the wet ground like snow
the cherry boldly exposes her fragile pink pearls
whirling winds within my mind argue against drinking
but i see no problem with cups only three-quarter full

murphy obstinate, mulish in his behavior






bai ju yi 212

finding joy

my lazy ways make it difficult to get down to work
inattentive to detail by nature my mind will find meander
i waken slowly under my cotton coverlet at dawn
i open the brushwood gate a bit after noon

the man of talent succeeds through dint of effort
a fool chases time in an idle manner
can anyone understand my joyful feelings
non-talented man in a position of power

murphy using simple rules to guide and prosper






bai ju yi 213

sent to huang fu the sixth, zhang the fiteenth, and li the thenty-third, tutors to the crown prince

i am relieved of my burden as prefect of three rivers
this year i am one of the four tutor-luminaries
to my good fortune, it is a sinecure and my days are free
it’s always good to climb a mountain, sail rivers to explore

my family just now still not facing poverty
i can find the means and time to heat some wine
and though my body is old, sick, and decaying
i, drinking, can still sing a few songs

dragon gate, rocks, water, and mountains
moon shining on the fragrant mountain
when can we all meet in that blessed place
and share a raucous time, together

murphy in his favorite irish pub with the old regulars






bai ju yi 214

idly singing by the pond

i started, studying, sitting in the blue grass pavilion
a fishing boat moored, a pond of seaweed green
late sun descending as i pause to take a stroll
losing myself within the deep stand of bamboo

when the moon is bright i stand on the small bridge
sipping the new wine until i become quite tipsy
i leave by the central gate then and there
i seek a place where i can indulge my joy

singing a sad familiar song starts me off
i am fully launched into my last old age
white hair blowing in the soughing breeze
the song and the wind, autumnal music

murphy always up for belting a few old ditties






bai ju yi 215

sighing with the cool wind

last night’s cool wind continues its mournful sound
out the window a flurry of fireflies among the falling leaves
i must minimize my sighing when autumn arrives
i am thirty years beyond when pan an first cried

murphy old and aching in the cold






bai ju yi 216

seeing off examiner cai as he leaves for the capital

ah, what joy to be so young, and appointed to a new post
on this solemn autumn day you proceed to court in perfect health
there are not many who get to walk the path to those lofty green clouds
so go, proceed ahead, but go with caution, and with a firm whip to hand

murphy learning to be as good a raconteur as his father became






bai ju yi 217

seeing off yang the eighth

don’t sigh as we leave one another by the green gate
rejoice in your deserving red carriage wheels
it’s very rare to achieve the third rank by fifty
not one in a thousand can manage that

keep the common people well in mind
don’t bother to think of your friends left behind
what further advice should i proffer
when spring comes to pi ling, get tipsy

murphy giving his usual advice






bai ju yi 218

hearing on old friend’s poem sung

his writing brush is stilled and we have no new poems
his fame safely at rest, old scrolls gathering dust in storage
but when i hear a phrase of his begin a song
before i turn my head to listen, my heart breaks

murphy never having enough poet friends






bai ju yi 219

drunkenly taking leave of talented master cheng

five times at long men your worth was denied
five times a failure in the special examinations
but hear my words, your talents are too varied
your creative artistic nature is not reflected in the questions

the poverty you have had to endure is sticky mud
hard to remove sadness lodged in your small town heart
so why travel again to the capital, again in vain
stay in tipsy village to find song and joy in your cups

murphy not the one to counsel a burgeoning alcoholic






bai ju yi 220

a song of person

i have become a recluse, dressed all in white
like an immortal moving through purple grasses
ambling around, loudly singing, half drunk
sitting a half-zen, a modern vimalakisti

imagine, a zen monk who drinks wine in idleness
a luminary of the times who doesn’t beg for money
who’s always entertaining a guest sitting by the pond
listening to plucked strings among the sighing reeds

if one should have the effrontery to ask
whether this eremite as he is becoming
might be despondent as his years pile high
just say, flavor of an idle past fits the elderly

murphy happy as a lad in his dotage






bai ju yi 221

taking up the wine thinking only of idle things

taking up the wine thinking only of idle things
where can i find the epitome of spring loveliness
trying out a new saddle, astride a new white horse
or, better, playing the mirror to little moth-eyebrows

you try to teach her to dance on the palm of your hand
there she is, reflected, about to sing before the flowers
let me tell you, the thing is to drink into tipsiness
then you might ask to talk about my feelings

murphy in his drink, chatting up a winsome woman






bai ju yi 222

questioning myself

that lofty terrace in the district called benevolence
stands sadly empty in the cool wind this night
the pond in the district called faith-fulfulled
abandoned, surrounded by unsightly wild grasses

so i ask myself a serious question
yes, old man that you are, you can ride forth
and travel the entire city of lo yang
but who do you know still living there now

murphy aware of his contemporaries vanishing






bai ju yi 223

xiang shan temple (first of two poems)

the gate to emptiness stands forlorn
abandoned and open in its quietness
this old man idly walking to and fro
his only friends the birds who are always there

he stops sometimes to study the occasional cloud
home brew fills the jug he carries with him
books fill the shelves temporarily left behind
half his wealth is already donated to the temple

murphy making peace with the inevitable






bai ju yi 224

singing softly by the pond (second of two poems)

i find myself in neither a villa home nor a religious retreat
but i do have bamboos, a pond, and more than ten acres
i am not a daoist monk, a buddhist priest, nor a secular official
i dress in coarse garments and a black head wrap

i live behind closed doors as a chosen freedom
i frolic in my dreams flitting like a butterfly
or lie motionless, pleased at heart, idle in body like a fish
as for life and death, i am undecided which is better

murphy sentient, aware, alive






bai ju yi 225

a spring welcoming for master zhang, tutor to the crown prince

the long period of rain is over, the air freshened,
wind, mists, grass and trees, renewed
all sharing this newly gladsome time
though i am frailer, becoming a decayed remnant

sunlight invigorates my body, the reflecting pond sky blue
the flowers have become more brilliant, greeting this warm sun
we are all coming together here, old shang mountain friends
i ask; what need have we now the viewpoint of youth

murphy noting the small buddings on the shrubs






bai ju yi 226

arranging idle time

i laugh at myself when arranging my idle days
setting out to manage a series of trifling things
draw water from the stream to irrigate the fields
make sure to skirt the orchid blossoms as i sweep the path

note how sun brings color back to the vines on the fence
how the magnolia trees blush their spring color in bloom
my mistress knows i’ve been drinking too much wine
so tonight she brews me a crock of soothing tea

murphy doing nothing special and enjoying it immensely






bai ju yi 227

on sleeping late

my sleeping clothes made of the softest silk
cotton coverlets warm enough to snuggle under
early fall is a bit nippy, even cold
but solid warm am i in body

i have now in my reclusive life
come to see how special this favor
i have no need to speak with those men
hurrying to attend early morning court

murphy nodding off to conclude his dream






bai ju yi 228

within the night of the third day, eighth month

the world crystallizes as frosty dew, the moon emerging from the clouds
these days are cool, the surrounding lands begin their long sleep
i reach to touch cold pearls, frozen tips of fall grasses
crescent moon glowing in a clarity of air
i move around the corner with its tall tower
pull my rough coat around to block the freshening air
sounds of the street blow distinct, full heard

now back within the clothes of night, prepared, perfumed
the bamboo mat, cold, unyielding, hard
i briefly dream, then wake, then dream, then wake
to walk around within the rooms, mind a tumble
til candle’s shadows recede before the dawn

an insect’s sounds, reproachful of the coming cold
the old altheas dropped its blooms before them all
while the lotus buds were the first to form
four seasons endless, including times to mourn

murphy an old man wanting to hurry spring






bai ju yi 229

answering meng de’s poem “for the end of autumn”

the flame flickering, soft, the lamp about to go out
i barely make out the distant sounds of the water clock
an autumn night stretches long for an older man
i face the fire, my mistress sews up her dress


a ravaging rain, chrysanthemums crushed along the bamboo fence
frost pervades the scene, floating water weeds shrunk
this winter night i will be sure to heat my wine
the foremost thought being the one with whom i’ll share

murphy meandering in his stroll






bai ju yi 230

answering meng de’s poem “sitting alone in autumn”

the twigs in the courtyard shine forth for me alone
the late sun shimmers in the frosty evening air
this night will bring a cold that withers the grasses
the insects chirrup their agitated feelings
the twigs dance, unsettled in this wind
it’s difficult for any bird sitting its nest

we share decayed faces lurking in our mirrors
yet still hearty enough to share love of the wine cup
we find within its graces the basic joy of being
it is the will of heaven that we are the best of friends
not yet fully looking over that edge of last old age
we’ve both won posts of ceremonial idleness

murphy retired, and happily so






bai ju yi 231

answering meng de’s poem “on a wintry moon-filled night”

a cold wintry night, a dreariness to the scene outside
an old man’s feelings, irrelevance, wasting away, doom
the moon makes whiteness of the new formed frost
the sound of distant geese brings all into harmony

i approach the fiery stove, fond of its spreading warmth
i feel cold, lamenting the lightness of the cotton quilt
propped on my pillow i form these few lines
the poem is finished, my sleep long gone

murphy using the restless waking of an old man’s night






bai ju yi 232

a heedless old man

since i left my post in wei to become a tutor to the crown prince
i’ve lived for eight or nine years a life of leisure on idle ground
first i was viewed as heedless and inattentive, a foolish old man
but lately they have decided i’m merely an eccentric recluse

i have burnt into memory the common ways of the world
all display of feelings, hot or cold, i have left to my friends to show
i have moved beyond the moral realm of right and wrong
best for this old dullard to abjure strictures of law and regulations

murphy sloughing extraneous thoughts sunning himself in the courtyard






bai ju yi 233

for governor pei he at a spring night picnic

ninety full years and still not decrepit
you are truly an earthly immortal among us
i, only in my sixties, but holding my own
yes, heaven has smiled on us both

here we meet in a moonlit, scented garden
sharing the pleasures of wine, food, and song
on all four sides music harmonizes the guests
we two men share in enticing gold-hairpin ladies

my only thought to entice you to stay until the dawn
assuming my role as youngster to your august presence

murphy knowing how he would like to be treated






bai ju yi 234

sent to meng de

my age the same tall pile as yours
my eyes not yet wholly dimmed
my ears not yet fully deaf
as i join you and we give way to drink

we lie on the grass as spring companions
avid in our pursuit of drunken pleasure
afterward we stroll like when we were young
idly sniffing and plucking spring flowers

we bother the magistrate of the three streams
splashing and playing at the edge of the water
then steal a boat to row out and bother duke pei du

when we ask passersby the way to go home
all the citizens of lo yang think this strange
but it’s only liu and bai, they say, those crazy old men

murphy stumbling home from his favorite pub






bai ju yi 235

the stream west of my house

the west stream divides and is channeled by men
but its unfree flow benefits only a determined few
family after family dismissing it from their minds
as worthless and beyond their boundary of fences

but i plant lotuses within its clear waters
having deflected it to flow past my small tower

murphy taking to hand what nature provides






bai ju yi 236

feeling lonesome in early fall

a lonely farmer far beyond the noise and dust
clear winds, cool place, in trees near clear water
i lie down on my carried mat, ruffled by the breeze
i’ve been walking alone on a moonlit night

i am tranquil with a sure peace in my body
no cares to spend on dangers of another world
i no longer search for that mountain path
having left climbing the heights to younger legs

what’s the use of wishing for nesting cranes
when, if, you let a fish go it will never return
when did i discover this full taste of living
ten years ago when i first felt my old age

murphy watching another one go






bai ju yi 237

finishing the month of fasting and cleansing

a day without your face is full three months of time
when a month of our sharing equals ten years
distance, mountains and rivers, hundreds of miles
last nine days a maelstorm of strong wind and storm

tomorrow the fasting and cleansing will end
and we can get on with our afternoon drinking
and then we can bed beneath the covers
a deep and restful, a drunken sleep

murphy finding grace in leisure






bau ju yi p238

idle in lo yang written while drunk

my way of living is not like today’s
so the world and i forget one another
though still listed as a court official
i spend my days with the friends of my youth

what is old age when you have friends, talk, and laughter
what is being poor when there is still more wine to drink
all my time is spent with companions pursuing the day
finding breeze and scene, time and again in frolic

heaven permits the pleasures of such as yong qi
men forgive madness such as that of jie yu
so i have changed my way of being, become a recluse
making my home the center of a tipsy village

i invite all my friends there, not just mend de
and will surely involve duke pei du as well
all my friends understand how dangerous life’s path
that the lust for power is not worth caring about

murphy having a liquid lunch with his cronies






bai ju yi 239

thinking of huang fu, opening wine on a wintry night

frost has killed the grass in the center court
the rear court pond is now covered with ice
a breeze moves too easily through bare limbs
no leaves left to fall to the ground

the nights of the tenth month, painfully long
about half gone now, this interminable night
i’ve just opened a fresh jug of wine
how could i not send this poem to you

murphy old and in pain from the cold






joy for a granddaughter one month old

how can one share such an auspicious day
husband and wife a bit old for birth of a daughter
now only a short time remains to share the grandchild
things that are rare are the most esteemed

you feel even more compassion because you are old
the infant one month old is named “drawn pearl”
midst the early spring blossoms of cassia and fruit
her jade flesh bathed in warm orchid-scent water

you embrace her then with all your love
why should one always wish for a boy

murphy matriarchal as any good cherokee






an idle song sent to huang fu’s father

who among us doesn’t sigh at time’s ebbing light
who does not grieve at being born poor in this life
but occasionally we become oblivious to such concerns
and old friends visit in the realm of mind’s eye

no linkage of position and power to cloud the mind
to blur the memory of the good friends of our youth
nor do we then forget our relatives gained by marriage
therein is one special group that delights me most

it is the situation when two families such as ours
have met the marital obligations of their children
so at last they can accept the new freedom before them
like xiang ping did in the ancient times of the han

murphy watching his grown children
forge their unique ways






meng de is sick and i pay a call

i know that visitors are few when one is sick
so how can you have the joy of companionship
the sun has risen high and the gates still stay closed
in the cool of this autumn, do you have any wine

it is proper for the two of us to comfort each other
why should we wait for proper invitation
there’s no harm drinking when you are just a little sick
so i made sure to bring along my jug of wine

murphy nursing the sick in his own fashion






a playful response sent to si yin

you have consumed over 3000 ounces of tonic medicines
your women have twelve golden hairpins each
for their coiffure
jealousy burns bright inside me, i feel like i am on fire
ashamed i am of my locks which glisten like hoar frost

i comfort myself in my doddering years
with songs and laughter
i manage to diminish my sorrow
with the warm comfort of wine
i am aware that an old man such as i
can only go wild occasionally
but when such an occasion arises
i go wild by all means

murphy attentive to the niceties til the bitter end






a joking response about madness

this mad world has forgotten this crazy old man
and i do not intend to change my ways in the slightest
i indulge freely in wine and sing to my heart’s content
i please only myself, why make other’s wild like jie yu

murphy a zen fool of a man






snowfall in lo yang to be shared with liu yu xi

snow blankets the town, north of the river
south of the river
the snow means for you and me
a chance for a friendly shindig
we shouldn’t mind this weather come so often
day after day
remember all we have before us
is the sickliness of old age

year after year our youth departs
as do old and dear friends
our green wool bedcurtains bring us a welcome warmth
early plum blossoms are moist
fiery red stove brings fragrance
two poets here in lo yang
let’s make a party in liang garden

murphy making the most of whatever
the day has to offer






playful words for duke pei
who presents me with a horse

there’s no way i can ride around in fashion like an shi
i would rather change that red steed for a young woman
send her green moth eyebrows to the eastern mountains
where she could accompany this old man when he sings

murphy delighting in the company of women, all women






answering huang fu’s poem on early spring

fluttering as it falls, flitting as it flutters
jade white snow scattered by an eastern breeze
dawn brightens the bamboo window
cold retreats, a hint of spring in the willow garden

can i bear the memory of the fragrance of green wine
now, while the warmth of my red stove draws me near
there are a few more days of abstinence to endure
so please spring, don’t make me break my religious fast

murphy never ever giving up the drink






frolic in the mountains with a sing song girl

her twin tufts of hair but crudely bound
not yet arranged, still hanging down
she’s just past half of thirty years
by nature drawn to silk and gauze

and today she is with me, only me
in the mountains close by the sea

we splash each other in a small spring pool
we weave in and out, touching each tree

her smile bewitches even the flowers
her tipsiness spreads chaos on the breeze
flaring red sleeves urgent in their dance
painted black eyebrows arched in her glee

she begins to sing
softly in her low voice

oh, please don’t sing “willow branches”
you will break my heart

murphy old and still full blood tsalagi in his ways






improvised verse sent to lang zhi

i begin to think of my days as an official
the best were when i was the prefect
pure joy existed in receiving guests warmly
fully with my family, wife and child

but even better now in the eastern capitol
exquisite these days of tranquil ease
a royal tutor to the crown prince
why that’s even better than being prefect

and being retired, that’s the best of it all
just think of the parks and the forest
i can enjoy myself thinking of you
we old friends both looked up to fame

when it snowed we always saw each other
not just in season when the flowers left
we competed in wine and drank it pure
bragged about the wond’rous songs we sang

a thousand times we parted in village lanes
five times we parted at the city gate
and when our paths have diverted
we have both looked back to the other

when letters arrive now melancholy flees
leaves fall in the courtyard of locust pavilion
ice forms on the pond by bamboo tower
i still hate to see them net the sparrows

i no longer dress in crane-feather clothes
i must give up that preening practice
my body and my heart both now frail
beauty and vigor now both long gone

my years pile high, up into old age
i become forgetful more and more
yet i still have my memories of you
i will never forget our time together

murphy emotional in his dotage, always tearing up






poem composed south of dragon lake

this old man of seventy three has a consuming mission
i will build a ford for safe passage
through the dangerous waters
during the day boats will swim
through with consummate ease
boats even at night will pass
through without turning turtle

there are several miles through these “threatening rapids”
then one comes to the han and the yellow rivers
the cold eighth buddhist hell changes into warm spring

my body will in its course die but my heart will live on
i wish to shape a benefit for those who come after

murphy tenacious in helping others to the end






sitting in idleness

watching flitting birds and scratching fowl in the park
my eyes wander over to the games played by children
i sit here idle under the shade of the old locust tree
i open my collar to the cooling breeze of evening

one soaks hemp in the cool waters of the pond
one dries red dates by spreading them in the sun
what is the simplest standard for living one’s life
oh, to be an old man simply tilling his fields

murphy awkwardly thrashing his way to the dao






a playful question for marshal niu

i shake the dust from my cap and scratch my white hairs
i slowly rise using my cane, half drunk i ask marshall niu
is there anyone else out there now who might rival me
in the tipsiness of my dance when i’m wild with song

murphy never doubting the healing nature of laughter







south, east, north, west; in all directions i am set loose
retired and free, no longer the tutor of the crown prince
now i can be first to view the flowers and taste the wine
no more memorials, no burning incense
no etiquette of officialdom

i can now eat my fill of bamboo shoots and boiled fish
relax in my gown using arms as pillows
fall into a drunken sleep
you will probably laugh at me
for these self satisfied words
but at heart you will envy my present state
of easy quietude

murphy wondering how he would have fared
with a leisured youth






sick with a painful ulcer

the doctors go back and forth outside my gate
but no guests come to my courtyard for pleasure
being sick robs the joy of chat and laughter
growing old brings sounds of sadness and pain

my old friend the crane stands to meet me at the pond
a sturdy arm helps me walk a while
beneath the stone steps
but that ulcer on my leg keeps me from drinking wine
how could i ever find enjoyment in this day

murphy soldiering through another illness






yesterday and again today

yesterday and again today, easy, free– i am seventy
ambling past many old places i think of former lives
insignificant officials seeking solace in frolics
now i’m old i seek pleasure in pure idleness

i go inside to seek a bewitching cup of wine
shake the dust off my crane-feather clothes
take off my waist band, discard my court garments
remove my hairpins, and put on a farmer’s hat

it was another time, indeed
when i sought fame and rank

murphy warm and quiet on a rainy, cold, afternoon






what the visitor said

recently a man visiting us from the sea
when climbing up, paused to look back down
and clearly saw in deep mirror of the sea
a splendid palace high on a mountain

there is an empty room waiting out there
within the gem lit caves of immortals
he said when asked to speak of this vision
he said the room was ready for bai’s coming

murphy careful enough to not believe in magic






answering what the visitor said

this one studies the way of the empty gate
not those other ways of the immortals

your suggestions are not based on knowing me
i’m not going back to the mountain in the sea
when it’s time i will return to buddha’s heaven

murphy religious in his skepticism






a spring day at leisure (1 of 3)

old tao was said to have loved his hut
i too have a special room i cherish
crammed with books and in it my lute
that is enough for a man at leisure

today is half through the third month
some flowers are beginning to fade
the courtyard though is thick with green grass
at dawn a dove cooed on the roof

spring sleep is always enough
it suffices in its refreshment
when i rouse i sit at leisure
nor comb nor wash til the sun is high

no religious restrictions today
the cook sends in meat and fish
both cold and hot, he knows my taste
starved, i eat and drink freely

finished eating scratch my head for awhile when thinking
i wear clothes that bind neither sinew nor frame
i stretch to position like a relaxing cat
stretch eyes and ears til they’re forgotten

drink freely from the wine cup
til i am settled as an ancient tree
one of the lofty red pines
in the realm of the immortals

murphy sipping small moments of joy






a spring day at leisure (2 of 3)

i wander along the lake filled from my springs
see flocks of fish frolic in their swimming
the new leafing forest casting its shadows
the birds above, alive with spring song

i too share lighthearted glee
i have no ailments nor cares
though fish and birds differ from men
we all revert to our natures

in olden times confucius was made to sigh
by that pheasant on that mountain bridge
yes, what he could not grasp made him sigh
when he thought about his fate, his time

now i sing my pleasure to both fish and birds
i am lucky in my time, in my place, in my lifetime

murphy in no hurry and getting nowhere






a spring day at leisure (3 of 3)

the songs of those who labor for their living
have most to do with their labor and pain
but those of us at leisure can indulge
we have chance to sing our attentive joy

if you ask me what pleasure is there in idleness
i say there is much to think on when you have the time
now when i am a supernumerary idle official
with a minimum of worries and cares

if you ask about the size of my salary
hundreds of thousands, cash, per month
if you ask me about how old i have become
i am in my year seventy less two

what i have gotten far surpasses my hopes
and when i reflect on the effulgence of this pay
this old idle horse has been unfettered
this old crane still receiving rank and pay

it all depends on the good wishes of heaven
prosperous and living in tranquil times
how can i not sing of these perfect days
in the quietude of heaven’s beneficence

murphy replete in his redoubt






in the summer of 837 listening to the cicadas, sent to liu yu xi

it has been ten years since we were last together
and shared the joy of the cries of the cicadas
this year again we are both here in lo yang
hearing their noise again reminds of many things

how pure the reality, the quietness of the forest
a cool breeze delicately flowing through the leaves

autumn thoughts come visit before autumn comes
i stand beside the remnants of the hibiscus blossoms
i stroll slowly in the shade of the old locust tree

even though i am not sadened by our separation
i am moved by the remembrance of sadness past
how glad i am that i am not growing deaf
so year after year i can hear the cicadas sing

murphy paying attention, always paying attention






passing by yong ning

the blooms of apricots and peaches cluster like snow
who could pass by without being smitten by their beauty
for whom do they open but lucky me, and magistrate lu
who bids me tarry a while with flowers
and a shared jug of wine

murphy taking time to honor the roses






floating on the pond

the mountain priest sits opposite me at the chess board
passing near shore shadows of the bamboo fall across us
nothing that moves can be seen except these shadows
then the sound of quick movement of one of the pieces

murphy still favoring go as his favorite board game






strolling along the dikes of lo yang

dawn brings clear skies above the dikes of lo yang
a spring night later falls over “long summer” gate
when i see wine i buy it, seeing trees i stop to rest
it’s been seven full years at leisure for this old man

murphy finding it difficult to remember
how his old harness felt






sent to minister li

as old age creeps its gradual pace
all i do is plan my pleasures
though poor i wish no gainful position
all i seek is brush to capture spring’s beauty

murphy settling in to a habit of scribbling






seeing off yao as he leaves for hang zhou

we sit and talk of how things are in hang zhou
please take heed of my advice, i am deeply concerned
from the start you should cherish and help the villagers
but you mustn’t forget to enjoy the songs and music

the towers there are lofty, reaching to the heavens
wind and moon stir the mind to a vivid dreaming
i am delighted a poet such as you will rule there
let wine cups fly as we celebrate mountains and rivers

murphy always ready for proffering a bit of advice






the beginning of winter, the wine is ready
(1 of 2)

the frost is heavy now, the willow branches brittle
the wind in the courtyard stings with its bite
attacking even the lotus floating in the pond
moon’s color at dawn is painfully white

the bird’s cries increase in this clear, frigid air
my heart lonely, crushed by the ravages of autumn
now that winter is here what shall i do
sediment floating on newly poured wine

murphy toughing it out through another winter






the beginning of winter, the wine is ready
(2 of 2)

yes, the wine is ready but no guests come
so my drinking of course will be done alone
like the old luminaries huang and qi
and the idle immortals song and qiao

here still on earth, blurred, indifferent
awake again before back to drinking
at leisure from morning through the night
how many years left to me locked in this mist

murphy persisting in his acceptance of lethe






old age goes on and on

old age goes on and on
my wife and child chide me
urge me to this and that

to get warm from the cold
i drink copious amounts of wine
pushing back the bitter cold

i am singing poems less and less
though i continue to win the battles
my heart remains strong, steadfast

yet my body shows fresh weakness
it’s the eternal law of the world
loss and gain follow one another

murphy slogging through the winter days






up in the mountains

white clouds along the cliffs unscattered by dawn
the green grass of the fields beginning to wither
the clouds self-born, self-destructed, what can they do
will they accept the eastern wind and bring rain

murphy receiving the will of earth’s climate






up in the mountains again

after a thousand years the rat changes to a white bat
having hidden deep in a cave to escape the nets
to keep harm from the body takes attention, planning
but why spend one’s life alone in the dark

murphy explaining his disdain of insurance






inscribed on the old grass hut at lu shan

thirty years ago i lived in this grass hut
now, i’m here again, my hair a silken white
i can no longer roam the mountains and rivers
not like when i was marshal of jiang zhou

i have gradually become the confidante of warm wine
but have stopped getting drunk and acting wild
i have many worthwhile things yet to accomplish
and i have not yet quit scribbling my songs

if you chance to be below “fragrant stove” peak
please relay this to the elder of the east forest temple

murphy heating his wine in the winter






change in lifestyle

when a man gets too old he might still drink
but he will find a declining joy in the sipping

he often becomes a recluse and then falls sick
but one thing stays true, he is idle too much

this poet when he is drunk is much too wild
far better he imagine from the pure empty of zen
i have my bevy of purple sleeved dancers
whose robes are of silk, mulberry dyed
my servant is trained to find medicine herbs

so the old mountain priest playfully asked
what new lifestyle are you aiming to find

murphy giving up all visits to the dentist






granted an edict to serve as prefect of tong
zhou, but i am sick and do not serve.
here i record my feelings

i am indisposed and don’t go to tong zhou
but who can know one’s feelings in such a case
i really enjoy a large salary but what can you do
the rigor of my body has become painful decay

the onset of this sickness was perfectly timed
i’m left with nothing to do but drink and sing songs
work or leisure, activities that are distant friends
i still worry about advancing while retiring

but i don’t bother about what others urge on me
i’ve thought about it, searched it out for myself
my white hairs are taking over my head
death’s blue mountains have set their date for me

my rustic ways shun the noise of the crowd
my family has no worries of starvation
i think i will sell my home in new glory ward
and use the money to ameliorate my old age

murphy spitting the bit of shouldering his load






may 5th 840, the day that ends spring

this day ends the third month of the fifth year
the feast is over, my guests all gone
left to myself, i close the door
sickness, now lo tian’s constant companion

in the spring i always let fan so go home
at leisure now i listen to a nightingale’s song
time changes all things but i am still standing
my thoughts become willow blossoms tossed in the wind

a golden sash begirdles my waist
my gown sweeps low to touch the earth
year after year i have seen the years pass
nowi’m so emaciated my clothes hang loose

murphy looking forward to summer’s heat






poem of leisure

excused from three good official posts
because of sickness
i have retired to this idle ground now for seven years
it is only myself who has chosen this retirement
it is not that world has gone on and abandoned me
retired poor, yes, but strong and healthy is heaven’s favor

when leaving prefect wei of jing nan left me
clothes for spring
then attendant wang came and requested money for wine
i have enough for the year,
let’s enoy fine food, sweet sleep

murphy optimizing his last years






planting willows (1 of 3)

when you get hair like snow why plant pine and cassia
you will never be around to walk in their forest
much better to plant fast growing willows
then you will get shade the year after

a spring breeze urges the willows to sprout up
this is in accord with an old man’ s heart

murphy tailoring his activities to his energies






planting willows (2 of 3)

i follow along with my neighbor planting willows
i ask why plant them with water on both sides
he laughs and says it is already arranged
three years from now fronds will brush the waves

then i can teach the young sing song girl
she can sit here and sing “the willow branches”

murphy keeping the party going






planting willows (3 of 3)

then i think five years on down the coming years
thousands on thousands of light yellow branches
will display their best in the moon’s reflection
a secret hidden along the road above the tower spring

an idle frolicker will be overcome with melancholy
for he can hear her song, but can see her not

murphy imagining his grandchildren’s lives






playful poem for liu meng de
on setting free our slave girls

the willow grows quickly now, the spring is deep
the sun marches ever higher in the noon sky
we should let them go to another man’s home
who can indulge in youthful games any longer

who can be fleet enough to outrun the spring wind
who can catch and hold whirling willow blossoms

murphy reclining at his ease in the late morning






inspired from a dream

my old friends have all now perished
i wished to meet them in my dreams
last night i saw those closest to me
those with me for our lifetimes
those things i dreamed seemed but a moment
we were drinking our wine and talking away
content to play a leisurely game or two of chess

the first i saw was wei of the secretariat
his gold seal was polished shiny bright
setting off the purple sash of his office
then i met old worthy-attendant li
his laughing words as if real to life
finally came constant-attendant cui
his face conveying deep emotions

three old friends came in one night
but i was not in the least surprised
this is something people might find strange
for it is beyond the experience of most of them

but i am aware of how this can be done
for i learned it from the master of heaven
he said to not make false distinctions

they becloud the path of wisdom
catching us torn between right and wrong
but if we subvert sensations to wisdom
we can achieve oneness with the divine

murphy laughing to accompany a babbling brook






a perfect ease

late winter sun sparkles, glows
how i crave the warmth of that sun
i move toward it and find a place to sit
then hug round my bedcovers, relax my sash

the little-girl slave massages my legs
the little-boy slave scratches my back
i ask myself do i deserve this tranquility
and can only give you the general outline

if your heart is calm and the world is disturbed
expect cold and hunger to enter your life
if the world is calm but your heart is disturbed
then thought and reflection burn from within

my position is fortunate indeed
my heart and the world are in harmony
from inner to outer, down to my center
not one disturbance to obstruct the dao

that is why i sit in the sun
talking, taking a perfect ease

murphy hating to be waited on






weeping over the death of shi hao,
my sister’s husband

the death banner has been brought here from nan kang
the orchid casket borne here to lo yang for burial
near the gate-trees at the northern graves
the moon this night brings a mist of melancholy

your wife, child, brothers; all cry as one
a handful and two others also here to mourn
how can i carry on, no one can take your place
it is lo tian who weeps most at this parting

in our long life you and i shared the filial duties
but today i find i carry a burden that’s mine alone
i know the futility of weeping
so i turn toward my carriage
when again will i hear you sing “sweeping the city”

whose family will take on your lutist whores
a sad banshee wind ruffles the poplar trees
the atmosphere dank with a glistening dew
how eternal seems the return of green grass

so i tarry yet a while at your grave
here at a true earth heaven parting

murphy tucking his father’s ashes in next to his mother’s






sitting at ease in the small pavilion

the rustling sound of bamboo outside,
rubbing in the wind
the subdued gurgle of water below, not far down
i shake out my mat, roll up the screen, sit
a fresh maiden’s breeze rises, clarifies air

it’s quiet enough to hear the new cicadas cry
to hear birds flying home in the far distance
my hat hangs on the wall in vain, no guest knocks
the two shu brothers have returned to their old village

the four old men have gone back
to the ancient mountains
and i am pleased to have the idleness
i have always sought

murphy, seven years old, quiet and still,
watching the bobbing cork






answering niu seng ru’s poem

after the seventh month fire and gold vapors struggle
the red of summer and the yellow of autumn oscillate
at odd moment one hears the song of the white snows
then the heat recedes before a brusque chill breeze

the leaves of the green forest not yet crisp and fallen
the first sad cries of the cicadas bemoan the cold
my pillow mat beckons, glows in the autumn dryness
my dress and nightcap light and comfortable

but tutor shu shou is too old and lazy to go out
and poet liu’s sickness is not yet under control
who can niu find to share his warming wine
the new moon rising above the palace walls

murphy displaying his gift at repartee






a spring amble along west lake

north of the temple on orphan mountain
the lake surface is calm, reflecting low clouds
early nightingales bicker amongst the trees
someone’s house has a new swallow chewing mud

flowers bloom in a grand disorder, bewitch the eyes
the horse’s hooves barely sink into the soft new grass
and then i come to the place that ever brings enjoyment
in the shadows of the green willows
by the white sand dikes

murphy honing his sense of landscape






sitting at night above the small terrace, thinking of meng de

the stream spills over to rinse the small terrace
no speck of dust will remain on its roof
i take off my sash, sit facing the west
looosen my gown to let in the breeze

cool evening brings with it a leisured joy
but i think of sharing a cup or two of wine
the bright moon waits over my brushwood gate
will you come visit with your goosefoot cane

murphy finding new and more inventive ways to party






given to the monks at the temple
on orphan mountain

mountain pomegranates, fluttering red turbans
bringing first splash, the vibrancy of spring
they are an external path to sacred beauty
their fragrance envelops the men sitting zazen

the flamboyant blossoms seducers of men
sent down from heaven in a flagrant guise

murphy beguiled as ever by the elaborance of nature






for friends who worry
about my having retired

for seven years i was tutor to the crown prince
a high rank with its commensurate salary
how could this sick old crane not be ashamed
to be carried around in those grand carriages
just think of all the years sitting on my shoulders
my sinews weak, my body beginning to decay
perhaps i should be worried about poverty
but why be concerned by the concept of fame

it is only this spring that illness caught up with me
i am now able to throw down cap and insignia
what does this old withered cicada shell of a man know
my heart is wandering in the moving clouds of heaven
i have a few odd grains still stored in my warehouse
enough, surely, to stave off starvation’s threat
my garden provides me with fresh vegetables
though the buds and leaves are not yet ready to eat

at my age i have no further need for fortune tellers
and i have decided to quit going to see the doctors
instead i take my lute out and climb the hill
i open the wine jug up there out on the pond
i let my boat free to drift in the wind
i notice the fish wriggling their tails in pleasure
my friends don’t know the pleasures i’ve found
they worry that retirement will make me forlorn

murphy imagining a full lifetime of leisure






without shame

i put on new cotton pajamas and go for a stroll
outside feels as warm as spring and welcomes me
it’s like a special cotton pillow stuffed with fragrance
softer and more satisfying than a human pillow

servants bring me my medicine and my wine
grandchildren brush my clothes and turban
i look around to right and left and ask myself
how is it possible to live thus without shame

all this for a withered and useless cast aside
this decrepit old body lying down for a rest

murphy always taking care of others before himself






poem for the sing song women
about the woman who sells brushwood

my hair is tied up like a shock of duckweed
i leave at dawn, walk the cold mountain for wood
but i wonder why it is that in this same world
other women wear red silk and ride fine horses

murphy always polite to the ones actually working






the leisurely comforts of old age

a white sun sinks quickly through the vastness of heaven
a man’s life in this world is best
when he is attuned to his times
work hard when young and strong,
rest when decayed and old
follow these simple precepts
to be rewarded with good fortune
if you should transgress however,
disaster, premature death

when i finally got to be fifty eight i retired into old age
not too early and i was a man of leisure for thirteen years
i have derived much from my life
after my time in official service
i have always been warmly clothed and well fed
after my wind sickness came,
sons and daughters were married
i harbored within my heart not the slightest of cares
i cherished total freedom,
a wispy cloud entrusted to the breeze

i am happier than a fish swimming through eel grass
sitting late into the evening, sometimes til the dawn
i am a white haired old man of a full seventy years
it is not wrong to say i have been graced with long life
though sinew and limb have no solidity,
i’m a bundle of plantain leaves

in this life family relies on one another,
birds sharing the same nest
my leaving this world carries no worry or grief
life and death the cycle not worth fighting against
there is nothing more to reflect on in my old heart
except to acknowledge its accord with fate,
the profound mystery

murphy a river finally reaching the sea






freshly bathed

body intact, outwardly no shame
heart tranquil, inwardly no concerns
night comes, freshly bathed
skin and hair, relaxed and soft

i throw off the fluffy towels
my bedclothes long and white
made of thick cotton, cozy, warm
legs covered, nightcap on my head

first i sip a cup of warmed wine
then take a pot of rice gruel
head half tipsy, belly half full
exhilarated, four limbs atingle

i am ready for the feelings of spring

though this month marks the year’s end
heaven and earth, bitter, sad, cold
the white sun dim, no warming glow
yellow river frozen, stopped in its flow

somewhere men march, on some campaign
some are winter traveling, some are starving
some in cold lampless jail struggling to live
while i sit here, clean, warm, secure
no cares binding my heart, feeling no shame
can anyone explain the reason this is so

murphy explaining how lucky he has been in life






singing at leisure over wine,
a poem sent to those old as i a

few men make it to seventy, i’m a little beyond
almost finished on my lengthy journey
soon to waken from this strange spring dream
no longer concerned with family matters
in my heart no thoughts of wealth or fame
and i’m old, but why sigh over that
and sickly, but with no cure in sight
i have maids and servants to look after me
my future entrusted to my wife and child
there’s enough food for everyone
the clothes are fit for all four seasons
my girl sings lewd songs of zheng and wei

a robust horse has no need for blankets
but the hundred things have left me, gone
i’m left with my poems and my wine
exhilaration comes and i am moved to song
that is my nature with wine as it eases pains
the cloud liquid pours into my six organs
warmth descends to ends of my four limbs
i sit peaceful in this world, accepting
i send this poem to a few elder gentlemen i know
they are as old as me so i ask them for wisdom
why be a stingy old man clinging with his heart
clinging too hard to his rights and wrongs

murphy pontificating to his bishops






where to avoid the heat of summer,
sent to intendant yang

where can one avoid the oppressive heat of summer
a tower in the forest, its back to the sun
how can one find the shade which is cooling
a boat on the pond, following the breeze
the sun has risen high and i am starving
so first i eat some, slowly til i’m full
and i enjoy the food and a bit of frolic
fun ended i take a nap, waken to a bowl of tea

eyes clear i look up to the green mountains
ears alert i hear the jade flow of the stream
i remove stockings, idly wash my feet
i remove my turban, happily scratch my head
how long has my life been like this
six or seven autumns, come and gone
free from heart to last bone in my body
my fate foolish retreat, glory unsought

yes the world may laugh at me
but i have no bothersome worries
yet quietly consider that i am grieved
in this oppressive heat of summer
for i hear that intendant yang
has been demoted to qian zhou

murphy retired and safe from the hurly burly






idly written for daoist zhang
by the family pond

there is a white glistening rock
the waters of the pond ripple past
there is an old man with a head of snow
idly walking back and forth

he doesn’t hurry as he moves
no important issues are on his mind
moving still he doesn’t enter the mountains
they loom too forlorn, far away, vast

nothing measures up to the family pond
happy and at ease, no worries or fears
there is plenteous food for the tasting
copious wine to befuddle, to redden my face

i am delighted to achieve my tipsy state
where i can reach the profound gate
fully conscious of the dao de jing
my last twelve years have been this idleness

i do not look back to with envy at wealth
i have no need to seek petty eminence
i yearn only for your occasional visit
coming here from heaven altar mountain

murphy always up for a philosophical chat






medicine isn’t the answer

life passes by quickly with a rushing urgence
each of us a flitting, fragile speck of dust in the wind
there is a limit to life but not for the yearning for life

one dying early envies a man of middle age
one middle aged envies one old in his years
one old in his years maintain his greed for life

elders seek medicines promising the path of no-death
mornings they swallow the golden sun-essence pill
evenings they drink the tea of the autumn-stone herb

they seek good fortune but create their own disaster
too many make sad mistakes with their medicines
greedily craving life they seek to prolong their years

but the principle they follow is profoundly false
the ways of heaven decreed for all men below
the true way of the world is not prolonging life

in the words of the great sage lao zi
“when i put my body behind me
my being first comes to life”

murphy expounding the doctrine beginning, middle, end






in a small garden, note to self

i never wanted a splendid mansion
nor required acres of garden for repose
but i do strive to be my own master
i’ve lived here now for more than ten years

turning back i can see rows of mansions
bold red gates, white walls on either side
they face each other from lofty distances
no master home, he leaves, seldom returns

the pond is the natural home for a fish
trees in the forest naturally fill with birds
what better than to be master of a small garden
taking leisure there, leaning on a cane

when guests arrive, a small party
the qin and wine for nights on end
i am content with exactly this
nor need larger pond, nor tower vast in size

murphy warm, dry, with plenty to eat






reading at leaisure, sent to young friends

flooded by rain the tall grass stands cold and white
in the autumn winds fruit has fallen in the courtyard
this idle old man sits by the window reading his scrolls
they show him the ceaseless cycle
of blessings and disasters

the more one gets the more one has to lose
the quickest horse will be the first to fall
i urge you youth to seek fame less
fame is a chain that locks up the body

i urge you youth to seek profit less
profit is a fire that consumes the body
long have i known this in my heart
neither fame for wealth are worthwhile goals

no wonder i love the sparrows clustering around
my brushwood gate rarely opens for visitors
beleieve me when i say to you
i am not lonely nor am i forlorn

murphy content with the vicarious pleasures
of his reading mind

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