murphy’s du fu von zach XI

XI,1 return in the spring to the straw hut at cheng du fu
XI,2 the homecoming
XI,3 away from my straw hut
XI,4 the four pines beside my straw hut
XI,5 the river weir
XI,6 the useless boat
XI,7 six quatrains (1 of 6)
XI,8 six quatrains (2 of 6)
XI,9 six quatrains (3 of 6)
XI,10 six quatrains (4 of 6)
XI,11 six quatrains (5 of 6)
XI,12 six quatrains (6 of 6)
XI,13 about my peaches
XI,14 at the gate-turn-off from cheng du fu
XI,15 i visit the wet pavilion in the center of the pond of my southern neighbor, the hermit zhu
XI,16 i visit the villa of the late proofreader hu si, (1 of 2)
XI,17 i visit the villa of the late proofreader hu si, (2 of 2)
XI,18 i send these verses to the archivist cui of qiong zhou
XI,19 i send this poem to the hermit si ma who understands how to prepare the elixir of life
XI,20 i dedicate this poem of 40 rhymes to censor yang qi, 24th of his clan
XI,21 i write these verses upon the resignation of tang jie and send them with jia of the ministry of ceremonies
XI,22 i sing these verses languidly
XI,23 the wild goose flies back to her native country
XI,24 two quatrains (1 of 2)
XI,25 two quatrains (2 of 2)
XI,26 praise of the horse portrait in the house of archivist wei-feng, painted by the general cao-ba
XI,27 i escort wei feng as he leaves for lang zhou to take up his post as army archivist
XI,28 i send this poem in 12 rhymes to ministerial secretary li bu, 14th in his clan
XI,30 i send this poem of 10 rhymes to general dong jia rong
XI,31 the white horse with the black bridle
XI,32 the huang he river (1 of 2)
XI,33 the huang he river (2 of 2)
XI,34 flying flags
XI,35 after carousing in the field with the army of yan wu i send these verses to my friend shen, eighth of his clan; and to old liu
XI,36 a party while it is raining at the beginning of autumn. i seal these verses in yan wu’s headquarters in cheng du fu
XI,37 in respectful imitation of the poem by yan wu, duke of zheng guo, “confined to camp in autumn”
XI,38 a beautiful evening at headquarters. i think of my straw hut in the western out-village of cheng du fu
XI,39 i come into my village
XI,40 it rains in my village
XI,41 a sleepless night
XI,42 i give voice to my sorrows, a poem in 20 rhymes, that i deferentially give to yan wu
XI,43 a night at headquarters
XI,44 under the trees at headquarters
XI,45 i escort my brother du ying as he leaves for qu zhou (1 of 3)
XI,46 i escort my brother du ying as he leaves for qu zhou (2 of 3)
XI,47 i escort my brother du ying as he leaves for qu zhou (3 of 3)
XI,48 the newly planted spruce before the stairs of the office apartment of governor yan wu. i receive the rhyme “chan”
XI,49 yan wu and i sing in the bamboos before the house of the general. i receive the rhyme “xiang”
XI,50 respectfully i look at a picture of the min mountains in the office of governor yan wu, poem in 10 rhymes. i use the rhyme “wang”
XI,51 i accompany yan wu on a boat ride in autumn over ma ha lake. i receive the rhyme “xi”
XI,52 in yan wu’s company i enjoy the scenery of the north lake
XI,53 the onset of winter
XI,54 chang, the prince’s secretary, gives me a piece of fine brocade
XI,55 after the winter solsticev
i look at the landscape painting in the house of li gu, painted by his younger brother the police officer (1 of 3)
XI,57 i look at the landscape painting in the house of li gu, painted by his younger brother the police officer (2 of 3)
XI,58 i look at the landscape painting in the house of li gu, painted by his younger brother the police officer (3 of 3)
XI,59 i must leave


return in the spring to the straw hut at cheng du fu

the mossy path leads down to the bamboo grove near the stream
the porch of the reed hut is covered with wildflowers
since i left this place many months have passed
i return now to all the splendors of spring

i walk with my cane to visit the lonesome rocks
i sit to drink wine on the sandy shore of the shallow river
in the distance gulls swim quietly on the waters
swallows dart obliquely through the winds

all my life i have met many obstacles
soon i feel my life shall come to its end
after awhile i keel over from the drink
where i feel fine, there is my home

murphy nursing his head from the night before

von zach XI,1


the homecoming

i went away from my straw hut to zi tong and lang zhong
only by coming home did i realize the sheer drudgery of traveling
i open the gate and see the martens fly away from me
i untie my books and see they are filled with dried bookworms

i wash my old mug and pour myself my new-bought wine
i lower my head to adjust my old small cap
who will supply me with such wine in the future
i sip slowly and contemplate growing old by this shore

murphy finding his final roost

von zach XI,2


away from my straw hut

when i left my straw hut years ago
cheng du fu was filled with western barbarians
now as i return to my old home
the town is free from all such dangers

i would not like to describe those riots
they occurred quite unexpectedly
the general yan wu had left to the court in chang an
seditious plans were made by the rabble

a white horse was killed during the night
conspirators coated their faces with blood and ran rampant
from the southwest came barbarians from lin qiong xian
in the north corner of si chuan the pass at sword gate towers was taken

some dozen prominent officials were approached
they all agreed to take the most important official posts
but there cannot be two equal entities to rule a land
and the han and the renegades soon fell out

the rebels brought in from the west turned against their brothers
soon after their leaders began killing themselves
who could have predicted that internal strife
should have led the beasts to mutual destruction

loyal patriots had become more and more outraged
there were no lawful barriers among these people
the empire had all at once three supreme leaders
and the entire population were as fish on the chopping board

the rebels and their followers behaved as tyrants
heeding not guilt or innocence they meted out marks of favor
they had many brought before them in fetters
while behind them courtiers played music

they ordered death as they blithely enjoyed their banter
and the blood flowed down in the streets
even now during storms in the place of execution
one hears wails and groans as if the axes were still swung

the women and horses of the murdered
were fair game for the pleasure of the murderers
the fact that the state finally restored order and law
fills me with righteous satisfaction

but then there was nothing left for me but to flee
for three years i thought about going to the souheastern coast
but continual fights darkened that region of the yang zi
and it would have been difficult to escape to the tai hu lake region

so i have not given up my old straw hut for good
i have returned and begun to remove the thornbush and the weeds
by the gate entrance the four pines i left behind are still alive
though the bamboo around the garden are fewer in number

my old dog is still here to greet me with happiness
he pushes close to my side, filled with devotion
the neighbors appear and wish me well
bringing much wine in gourds for a party

the governor yan wu sends mounted messengers to ask me
if i have any special needs that he can help with
indeed, the entire town seems happy to see me
guests from everywhere crowd around my small area

yet since the world at large is still not at peace
warriors are to be preferred to scholars such as i
in these times of warring riots i uselessly wandered
where will i now choose to stay into my elder years

i know that i have become only a parasite
but my bones are not rotten as of yet
i will be ashamed if i only eat and drink without action
if nothing else i can end my days picking wild ferns in the wilderness

murphy returning to his work after too long a vacation

von zach XI,3


the four pines beside my straw hut

when i transplanted these four pines next to the hut
they were hardly more than three feet tall
since i have been gone for these three years
they are unmoved but of the size of a man

i inspect the roots and find they are firm and well set
the limbs are a bit dry though and droop
fortunately they retain the deep rich color desired
and the lower branches have a strong spreading presence

i replace the small fence surrounding them
it will afford them a bit of protection
if they had in the end been damaged
their yellow needles would have pierced my heart

i do not dare to think all the old woods are clear of menace
many of my neighbors have still not returned
i have just returned from my escape from the rebels
and the spring grasses are full around my hut

i go to inspect the weir and the boat i left behind
i sit under the spruces and sigh over their advanced decay
a chill breeze arises and refreshes me
it blows over my face like a light frost

the pines will please me in my old age
i must wait a few years til their crowns are mature
my life has been rootless unlike them
and my life with them is still uncertain

they have moved me to write these verses
and to make common destiny with their lives
do not become too proud, but think that in a thousand years
your dark green canopy will reach the sky’s vault of blue

murphy drowning in his books

von zach XI,4


the river weir

the river weir has been destroyed by the waves
it must yet again be fully restored
the blue stream suffers constant wind and storms
clouds and rain fly by, day and night

even my straw hut has been damaged by the flooding
it will also finally succumb to the waves
this traveler stayed away too long
and his straw hut was left without any guard

in the end the water reached high on the shore
no wonder the ramshackle old river weir was destroyed
people admonished me to support the structure better
but i felt a support beam for the hut would be laughed at

to support the river weir is more difficult than to support the house
what would a beam do there since a beam did not fully support the house
from the shore of the big stream one sees for miles nothing but water
how should a flimsy weir be able to stand up in such a rush

people are predilected to remember things with melancholy
i am seized by grief at the destruction of the river weir

murphy pulling up the stringer holding his still living catch of fish

von zach XI,5


the useless boat

all my life my heart longed for the rivers and lakes
i have had a small boat with me for years
and it was my wont to row up the creek every day
to get out and beyond my brushwood gate

since i abandoned my hut because of the rebellion
i have longed from afar for the comforts of home
now on my return i find many new neighbors
with only the wild bamboo still growing tall

i can no longer knock cadence on the side of the boat as i sing
it has long since become buried and begun to rot
standing on the shore i watch the birds flying west
looking down at the water flowing east i am ashamed

i can dig out the old boat again
or buy myself a light new one
what bothers me is my constant moving
even in my old hut i cannot guarantee my peace

murphy walking far to maintain vigor in his old age

von zach XI,6


six quatrains (1 of 6)

the sun rises over the water to the east of the hedge
clouds arise from the mud to the north of my buildings
a kingfisher sings from high in the bamboo grove
on the far bank a wild partridge dances for a mate

murphy relaxed within the cocoon of his physicality

von zach XI,7


six quatrains (2 of 6)

dazed by the bewildering effusion of blossoms
bemused by the fluttering butterflies
i am sunk in delirium in the shade
what should a visitor think of my indulgent seclusion

murphy getting up to refill his cup with sake‘

von zach XI,8


six quatrains (3 of 6)

dig a new well, plait ropes of palm leaves
harvest bamboo, make pipes for drains
the little boat tied securely at its mooring
a narrow footpath winding, binding to the village

murphy writing out his shopping list for the gourmet store

von zach XI,9


six quatrains (4 of 6)

the rain pelts against the banks of the creek
sunlight gradually penetrates through the trees
the oriole stays hidden, dry in her nest
some bits of reed float by… there, a white fish leaps

murphy replete with the growing warmth of late spring

von zach XI,10


six quatrains (5 of 6)

bamboo sprouts go under the wall, sprout inside the hut
climbing plants in the courtyard disappear into the eaves
gossamer threads of summer float above the sun-lit ground
green reeds on the shore outline the shining stream

murphy nuking the leftovers for lunch

von zach XI,11


six quatrains (6 of 6)

waves of the stream move moon’s reflection
visage of the stream accepts the clouds, flowers wax on the shore
the bird which returns to his nest understands the dao
a passing sail drifting to an unknown fate

murphy relaxing into the apartment after a hard week’s work

von zach XI,12


about my peaches

the narrow path to my hut used to be straight
now i’ve let the peach trees take over
i placed the trees so i could see their flowers
the very next spring they were fully abloom

i let those five peaches take over there
and in the fall they give wondrous fruit
and the very next spring they will fill with blossoms
the kind that are ephemeral and amuse the eye

i will always let in the swallows by the gate
they can stay within the bamboo curtain
and i insist the children do the same
but they must leave old crows alone

how could i believe it could be a time
when all the killing and raping would go on
our footpaths are left for our children and kin
we are all part of our children and clan

murphy setting up the table to play dominoes

von zach XI,13


at the gate-turn-off from cheng du fu

the flowers are rife here, near the high tower
they assuage the souls of passers-by
i have come here to think about the many riots
i need this healing place, this consoling

the spring vigor of the brocade river knits heaven and earth
it spreads to bring the entirety of nature
clouds float above yu lei mountain, change comes
now it’s back to the quiet way of before, the waft of cloud

only the court retired to the extreme north of chang an remains
through all the events, in the end everything has stayed the same
there should be no more dreams by the turfan of the western mountains
though the commemorative temple for the deplorable hu zhu is here in cheng du fu

as the sun sinks i sing the song of chu ko liang
i can think of no more fitting end to my contemplation
and what this says about casting aspersions
and how they might deflect a ruler from his duties

murphy seditious but quietly so

von zach XI,14


i visit the villa of the late proofreader hu si (1 of 2)

my old friend has already died
but his neighbor du fu’s distress continues
up until his end he was not appointed to the court
only after the encomiums began was he so raised

his widow and children are forced to accept help from strangers
now even his garden where we were wont to walk has changed
only the white shrouds of the death room remain
the autumn winds stirring them to plaintive life

murphy becoming ever more the recluse as his contemporaries drift away

von zach XI,16


i visit the villa of the late proofreader hu si (2 of 2)

the swallows fly into no other house but this empty villa
the gull returns to the old pond again and again, as if searching for him
the old bridge has gone to ruin and has no more solid boards
new branches peek out from the fallen trees in the pasture

this is a small try at what xiang xiu once wrote for the apartment of xi kang
i am a bit ashamed at likening my efforts to his high wisdom
but my old friends are dying bit by bit, every one
that is why my white head pours its streams of tears

murphy holding on to the old habits, good food, good drink, and attention paid to each day

von zach XI,17


i send these verses to the archivist cui of qiong zhou

i have heard that the archivist cui of qiong zhou himself
has taken up residence in the guo yuan district of cheng du fu
i have expected his visit for some time now but have heard nothing
i wonder what important work has taken up each whole day long

maybe he has been told my straw hut is too far away
and fears finding only a coarse hut in the wilderness
perhaps he has not been apprised of the peaceful atmosphere
as well as the delightful smell of well fermented wine

murphy waiting for the world to beat a path to his door

von zach,XI,18


i send this poem to the hermit si ma who understands how to prepare the elixir of life

once we parted with appropriate ceremony in chang an
now i have become a whirling thistledown blown to the end of the world
but i don’t wish to speak so much of my current conditions
our earlier colloquies in chang an always revolved around the same subject

i have always thought deeply about becoming a daoist appprentice
and from early on you have been my teacher about such matters
all families recognize and revere you as a second ji zi xun
everyone knows you as truly a second hu gong

for a long time now you have kept yourself to the north of e mei mountain
or you seclude yourself around to the east of mount yu lei
you are rumored to ride on the back of a wild tiger
and in your spartan cave you use an immortal as your servant

why does my pitiably thin hair remain white
how can my dilapidated face regain the bloom of youth
i look up to the clouds to complain about my wretched life
in my old age i envy you your youthful looks

with these riots this old body cannot find its rest
i am full of grief that no letters reach me from the old country
everywhere one sees soldiers standing guard at checkpoints
i even take my sword with me to the postal station in case of bandits

it seems i must wander in foreign areas for the foreseeable future
and i am already an old man with only a limited number of days remaining
oh, if only you could truly rejuvenate the passion in my bones
perhaps you could teach me to ride on the pure winds with you like an immortal

murphy facing the inevitable with his lop-sided grin

von zach XI,19


i dedicate this poem of 40 rhymes to censor yang qi, 24th of his clan

during my wanderings i have often found myself remembering about you
i couldn’t help thinking how ashamed i am of my ephemeral life
i cannot say that i agree with you in your attitude toward public service
and, at any rate, i have always fled from the fighting arenas

since that night we parted on the pleiades bridge in cheng university
the signs of the zodiac have slowly revolved three times
the rebels have still not been dealt a death blow
these brigands remind me of the yellow turbans of hou in han times

while you returned to chang an in all peace of mind
i had to hide, though hardly like a hermit visiting loneliness for itself alone
i saw no wild goose fly over who could take a letter to you
and i was reduced to wearing old, torn clothes like a beggar

i was always fearful in packing up my belongings
i staggered on in my escape because i was weakened repeatedly by illness
the orioles knew how to draw tears from me, mornings with their song
the autumn moon always brought back the memories of the old country

in chang an then you sighed when you looked upon my distraught face
while i gabbled on and on about my burdensome woes
you were originally from cheng du fu and moved to chang an
i cannot get to chang an now and must remain in si chuan

i have come again to my straw hut in cheng du fu and my medicines
here on the huan hua xi river i will again cast out my fishing line
with my heavy illness i can do nothing else except deplore my fate
i get up late in the mornings, and have found no one who could be a friend

i have heard that you would come early to the palace archives to work
now you might return to cheng du fu like zhang qian once did
you are like a phoenix or swan who has difficulty making friends
you are like a dragon or tiger who can never be tamed

after you give up your office you might come here as a traveler
and meet with a friend who was well known to you in earlier times
our inclinations then tended to always be in agreement
and we mutually valued only the truth of our characters

although i am a poor vagabond you are welcome to come live with me
i do not remember you ever being ashamed of my poverty
here in si chuan i still have a garden with sugar cane and root vegetables
we both have the same liking for spruce and bamboo

unfortunately i still make do with coarse rice as in my penurious youth
and i am very sick and spend many days in misery
though my adult daughter is a competent seamstress
and my big son is good with books; unmarried, both live with me

close to peng kou the river flows like a white ribbon of silk
and far off the snow on the zan yai pass glimmers silver in the sun
there your famous garden lies next to the green mountains
and one’s oars disappear among the waterchestnuts in the stream

i was always delighted to be in that house which belonged earlier to princes
i was often there upon gracious invitation to this vagabond
the time we spent together flowed by without notice
you always extended your hospitality for a full ten days

when one’s friendship runs so true and deep
one need not live together side by side
all distinguished guests head straight for you
and you understand as once did shao-dang-shi

we often spent our time in riding excursions
and i was overwhelmed by your kindnesses
early on we visited the temple at liu fei
riding out to visit through shao cheng gate in cheng du fu

we visited the grave of the king of shu‘s wife, with the stone mirror
at the lute-balcony we shared the secret of zhuo wen jun’s red lips
now only the dirty earth covers the poor queen
and the dead poet’s wife embraces brambles

you packed wine baskets high into the mountain’s woods
we often played go on the shore of the pond
i took pleasure in the opportunities to rest my tired limbs
and to recover a bit from my earlier troubles

when we drew in our cast-out nets, fat carp were delivered
we cooked their bounteous meat in fine vegetable soups
we drew out the singing and spent time sipping from well formed beakers
and then we would retire for a short siesta in our hammocks

however, in the months important for farming one must tend the fields
a farmer such as myself can never let this go undone
everyone who exists needs his simple food and i must so provide
so it is, unfortunately, back to the fields for me this morning

the provinces are still darkened by the fighting
but the peaceful serenity of the new ruler portends well
i would only like to hear that the rebels have been exterminated
and have quit trying to earn salaries and a place in the unicorn gallery

if we look closely at the world, friendship is short and full of self interest
we should remain friends whether one of us now has luck in life or not
it is not only the friendship of lei and chen that people should speak of
we should be counted as inseparable, mixed as glue and varnish

murphy stuck in a bad place with no way out

von zach XI,20


i write these verses upon the resignation of tang jie and send them with jia of the ministry of ceremonies

within the last nine years we chanced only once to speak
about how seldom we will meet in our retired lives
now we are to separate, you will move the immense distance to luo yang
i will accompany you in spirit up to the foot of the first mountain

two white cranes have lived long together in the woods
two fish living in the depths come both from the same stream
no one can knows whether the future will be good or ill
though we are old, dilapidated, we can still sing strongly a resignation song

if the song is to end we are both deeply saddened
oh, sun wagon drawn by the six dragons do not hurry so
when we look at our white hair we know how impossible
for the driver of the sun wagon xi-he to come to a stop

the leader of the western barbarians has been killed
but the earlier imperial general bu gu huai en still rebels
it seems unlikely but big rich china within the four seas
may see the citizens become fewer than the panthers and tigers

where there are few people approach them with care
where there are many tigers you may still get past
for when men starve they will sell or eat their children
while the beasts still fear the nets of the hunters

you possess a great organizational talent
but the emperor’s palace rises to an unattainable height
now you proceed to eastern zhou, to luo yang
your haste to leave reminds me of onrushing waves

my old friend jia zhi is in the ministry of ceremonies
he is a vice-president and rides a carriage with golden decorations
the strength of his paint brush rivals the best in the past
when he meets a nobleman neither has a bigger heart

i hope you will look upon him as a teacher and serve him
also in these bad times be watchful and keep a selfless character
xia will bring my excuses that i could not appear personally with him
that i am bedridden with bad lungs here on the shore of the yang zi

murphy still maintaining the proper politesse

von zach XI,21


i sing these verses languidly

over on the shores of the stream the gulls play as they float by
the shade of the pasture extends over the government bridge
at the moment while the blossoms are fullest comes the dragon boat festival
the grasses are thick and one thinks of small excursions

already i have abandoned all my books and working
and thrown myself into the joys and beauty of nature
i seal these unusual new verses with quiet assuredness
and sing them instinctively in a long drawn-out tone

murphy busy making up his own verse forms for the heck of it

von zach XI,22


the wild goose flies back to her native country

many travelers arrive from a thousand miles to the east
the riots are ended in the native country, when will i finally return
the wild goose seen on the river near cheng du fu tears at the heart
how he soars to inaccessible heights directly to the north

murphy anthropomorphizing with the best of them

von zach XI,23


two quatrains (1 of 2)

late afternoon lingers with sun gilding the mountain and stream
a spring wind brings the taste of flowers and herbs
swallows fly up from the soft, melting mud
mandarin ducks sleep on the warm sandy shore

murphy dipping his toes into the clear running river

von zach XI,24


two quatrains (2 of 2)

the white gulls contrast sharply with the jade blue stream
the massive dark background of mountain gleams with fiery red blossoms
i see that the beginnings of spring has passed me by once again
when shall i ever enter the year of my final return to the motherland

murphy marooned in tahiti with willing wahines

von zach XI,25


praise of the horse portrait in the house of archivist wei feng, painted by the general cao ba

in this dynasty the best painted horses have been by li xu, prince of jiang du
though in the last 30 years general cao has made a name for himself
now among the cognoscenti one sees again, if only in paint
war horses such as the bucephalus cheng huang from emperor shun’s time

once cao painted the earlier emperor ming huang’s horse
the one entitled “the white who illuminates the night”
when it was finished it thundered ten straight days
dragon lake seemed in celebration of its beauty

a blood red carnelian bowl was selected from the imperial treasury
to be presented in recognition of the marvelous work
the lady in waiting transmitted the imperial decree
and the lady’s maids presented the rich reward to the general

the gifted general extended his heartfelt thanks
and returned to his home replete with great honors
the best white silk was sent to him from all sides
requesting he paint the sender’s request

members of the imperial family were so honored
as well as the highest dignitaries who wished his work
they were all of the same feeling about this man
his art would surely add luster to their homes

first came the curly-maned horse of emperor tai- zong
then the pinto with the lion’s heart received as a gift by guo zi yi
now i see both these horses among the nine in this painting
they move a horse expert to sigh deeply in appreciation

both are vigorous war steeds to carry their rider
into the face of thousands of enemies
they throw up thick clouds of the white sands of the desert
but this is only on the white silk of the painting

the remaining seven horses are also unusual
and each is presented as individual in style
from a distance they give the distinct impression
as if they moved through a misty cold day of snow

their ice chipping hooves stamp the ground
as they move with power under great fir trees
they are surrounded by officers and servants
each one vying to stand out from all the rest

the eyes of each are clear and proud, the fire of their nature deeply shown
and they ask of each viewer, which horse do they prefer
now it is asked of wei feng a friend of horse painting
earlier it was zhi dun a friend of horse breeding

i remember the late emperor in procession at his summer palace
30,000 riders, all on excellent horses, swept in rows from the east
they all resembled in conformation the splendid horses in this painting
but now the imperial ghost receives the secret jade of the river gods

that was the last gathering of such magnificent animals
and dragons are no longer shot as did han wu di in xun yang
since the emperor’s death we no longer see such excellent horses
the bird’s plaintive cries at his tomb bemoan their loss

murphy cinching the belly rope on the brahma bull prior to settling himself on his back

von zach XI,26


i escort wei feng as he leaves for lang zhou to take up his post as army archivist

the destiny of the empire is still in danger
and the riots have still not been quelled
everywhere the people complain of famine
for ten years the armies have exacted their provisions

the entire corps of officialdom recognizes this problem
but cannot begin to ease the terrible deprivation
they know how hard pressed the people have become
and the worthy official will proceed in an even-handed way

wei feng is still a young man who is thoroughly educated
he has acquired all the required indispensable knowledge
he knows the law and how to uphold it
he sees complex matters tied up neatly with a string

he must now see to it that extortionist under-officials
should be made to understand and to fear him
if he really wishes to ease the festering wounds of the people
he must first eliminate the culprits gnawing at their marrow

my tears flow as i say good bye to him on the shores of the yang zi
the high turbulent sky reflects my conflicted state
he goes now to bring competency to managing his district
and this brings comfort to my grieving heart

murphy carefully picking his way through the thorn bushes

von zach XI,27


the song of the painter’s art, to general cao ba

general cao ba is a descendant of emperor cao cao of the wei dynasty
the family has lost its nobility and now has only private respectability
and is no longer interested in territorial occupation or past heroics
but their brilliant culture comes down to the grandson today

the general first studied the calligraphy of madame wei in the chin dynasty
and was regretful only that he could not surpass her pupil wang xi zhi
since he started to paint he has forgotten that he is aging
he has no need for wealth or respect, they being mere moving clouds

early in life for almost 30 years he was often called to serve the emperor
he was a semi-permanent visitor to the southern fragrance hall at the palace
the portraits of the past statesmen in the ling-yen gallery were faded
the general seized his paintbrush and restored the pictures to perfection

he painted the state ministers with the special cap of the emperor’s approval
all the generals were given arrows hanging from their belts
the hair of duke duan zhi yuan and yu chi jing de set aflutter in the wind
their fierce faces as imposing as if returning from the fight

the late emperor ming huan owned a marvelous horse call yu hua cong
many painters before had tried to capture his essence and failed
one day the horse was brought before the throne steps
he stood proudly within the chang he gates raising dust with his hooves

the emperor ordered the general to use white silk and get to work
cao ba sank into deep thought before he started on the cloth
then with sudden inspiration brought down a dragon from the ninth sky
with this painting he surpassed all other horse paintings from the past

the picture of the racer yu hua cong was hung above the imperial throne
the horse over the throne and the horse at the gate faced each other in astonishing similarity
the elated monarch smiled and immediately presented the painter with gold
so much so that stable masters of state officials were jealous and envious

cao ba’s pupil han gan has been improving for a long time
he also is a great painter of horses and returns their beauty time and again
however, he has never quite mastered the underlying structure of bones
he even let the horse hua liu appear weak in the picture of the eight horses of mu wang

general cao ba was a master at capturing the spirit of his subjects
as soon as he met an excellent man he painted his portrait
now during this time of war and rioting he walks in misery
and will often paint just any old nobody who happens to be around

in his distress he is often looked down upon now
there is no one in the world quite as poor as he seems to be
he should take heart by reminding himself of famous men in the past
who were met with frustration during their productive lives

murphy taking the vow of poverty to become a public school teacher

von zach XI,28


i send this poem in 12 rhymes to ministerial secretary li bu, 14th in his clan

your title, your name is listed among the guard officers of the crown prince
you were appointed to your especial office as once was chen fan by governor zhou jing
far back in the gulches of wu lies the district wan zhou where you are to be stationed
and thus it is a good time for me to send these verses out from my gate of thornbushes

now you are to begin a long, arduous trip and must take care
how is it going with your bouts of returning fevers?
just now is the high heat of summertime
and there are only a few roadside inns along your way

the huang niu rocks on the river are now deeply covered
and the boats with the painted bug mascot climb the waves into the air
to wait further allows the water whirlpool to cease to function
you must determine your day of departure to minimize your problems

if you are feeling depressed you might walk along my small garden path
i can come along and we can pick some vegetables for the table
the bank pastures lead out to a secluded place for us to enjoy
the village flowers do not impede our way when we return

during the rainy season many white apples are produced
and after these rains red water lilies bloom in a wild mess of color
during the summer as the evening comes to my garden
winds come off the river with a delightful coolness

the transparent water of the streams can clean your heart of despair
we can carefully comb our hair in the cool of the bamboo grove
come directly back to my straw hut with your clothes and other necessities
in the autumn then i will open my hut to the yachtsman as he leaves

murphy especially southern in his gracious hospitality

von zach XI,29


i send this poem of 10 rhymes to general dong jia rong

i have heard that you pitched your general’s tent near the sky regions
there you hope to prevent any autumnal nomad’s incursions
you look down from the snow mountains to the west
and far behind you lies the rope bridge of mou zhou

within the four seas of the motherland everyone is wearing battle armor
the audiences in chang an run much longer than is normal
the dogs and sheep, the enemy have spread everywhere
the palaces in the capital have still not been restored

the courageous generals must drink bile as once did gou jian  to remind of his disgrace
battle swords must be kept sharp and girded to the loins
the turfan must be made to pay for the stain on the imperial honor
the lunar caves of the west must be leveled in retaliation

it will not take an inordinate amount of time if you use the right strategy
and you keep your troops focused and always ready for combat
you will become the second ma wu in seizing your enemies
and with a successful effort you will rise to emulate the great he qu bing

at sundown i think of your light cavalry riding to the west
now in autumn i am reminded of your eagle defenders ready on high
in yun-tai palace your picture will be painted and hung
there you will be among the different victorious leaders of our people

murphy the old armchair quarterback reading his morning papers

von zach XI,30


the white horse with the black bridle

who is that man on the white horse
the one with the contrasting black bridle
with his wild blood lust he will not hang back
he has an abiding need to attack the insurgent turfan

have you not heard that the emperor in his mercy
has freed the harem women as once did han wen di
shortly the tung guan pass will be cleared
and the evil insurgents scattered like bees and ants

no one can stand up to the imperial guard
and it has now been unleashed on the enemy
the prediction is that the enemy will be crushed
and this will be no later than by this tenth month

would it not be better that their leaders would submit
and proceed alone to chang an to beg the emperor’s mercy
maybe if they wait on the steps to the throne
they might be given the imperial mercy

murphy always betting on the yankees to win

von zach XI,31


the huang he river (1 of 2)

on the northern shore of the huang he river is the hai xi turfan army
their incessant gongs and drums are heard throughout the night
the countless strong horses neigh loudly in their eagerness
and more and more large nosed barbarians show up every day

murphy sharpening his sword for the coming battle

von zach XI,32


the huang he river (2 of 2)

on the south shore of the huang he our si chuan army is encamped
because of their raids the enemy is not able to obtain food
if i had my way the entire people of china
would rise up to help our ruler defeat these curs

we would then have throughout the land
the same measures, and the same writing
and no more hording of gold and jewels
but all efforts be brought to maintaining the troops

murphy tightening the belt on his dress blues for parade

von zach XI,33


flying flags

the rain has reduced the heat of the long summer days
the official office along the yang zi feels chilly
general yan wu has invited guests to a party
his stately appearance adds to his pre-eminence

in the beginning of the festivities is a military show
the wide court of the ya men is used for the demonstration
in the large parade ground appear six riders
they are all swinging flags as they spur on their spirited horses

as they are waved before us they are caught by the wind
the sound is that of a thundering rockfall
when the embroidered flags are swung they form a canopy
the streaks of colors remind of shooting stars

they lay down the flags side by side on the ground
then riding by they reach to the ground to take them up again
it is as if they had rainbows in their hands
which they furl and unfurl with consummate ease

the three districts of song, wei and bao are in the hands of the turfan
on the west mountains we see the black smoke of the chinese guard fires
you, oh general, have come to train competent soldiers
you intend to win back all the western towns

your position is certainly not an easy one
yet since your arrival peace and calm has returned to the provinces
now we have plenty of food to eat and no great worries press on us
and we do not have to forage far afield to get our supplies

murphy on the parade ground for the graduation from boot camp

von zach XI,34


after carousing in the field with the army of yan wu i send these verses to my friend shen, eighth of his clan; and to old liu

i am thirsty after the pleasure of wine so i drink from the big stream
still very drunk i rinse my mouth on the evening shore
i lean lopsided on the soft sand to to steady myself
i awake from my drunken sleep on cold stones

i ate heartily of the field army food at bivouac
and listened to the chinese songs provided by the camp
because you were not there with me i only drank and did not speak
therefore i rather quickly became so drunk i became comatose

murphy bleary eyed and not very happy

von zach XI,35


a party while it is raining at the beginning of autumn. i seal these verses in yan wu’s headquarters in cheng du fu

the clouds move against the borders on the mountains
the stars have returned to their autumnal places
a rainstorm shakes the beautiful headquarters building
the beams groan in the hard autumn winds

because general yan has helped me in my misery, i stand ashamed
yet despite my age he has asked me to stand by his side
i do so and every morning i attend upon him
wondering how i might help my superior with his far reaching plans

i don my official robes and open the northern door of my private apartment
i go to the resting place in the southern tower where he stays
from the wet trees a chill wind blows refreshing my room
i look out on thick fog floating on the yang zi

because of my distinguished treatment by yan-wu my heart is at rest
the invigorating weather has improved my ill health
if my general and benefactor returns to chang an
i will return again to my old straw hut to stay a while

murphy finding a peace within non-action for the time being

von zach XI,36


in respectful imitation of the poem by yan wu, duke of zheng guo, “confined to camp in autumn”

gentle labor pains of the fall winds move the high flags of the troops
the general’s tent has sent out the order to attack the enemy camp
already the enemy withdraws from his high camp so our troops do too
they await further orders to press on to the turfan headquarters in peng bo

murphy waterproofing his boots and field-stripping his rifle

von zach XI,37


a beautiful evening at headquarters, i think of my straw hut in the western out-village of cheng du fu

in the headquarters a chill autumn wind blows day and night
soft billowing clouds and fine rain surround the center of cheng du fu
the red fruit among the leaves sag down in the ripeness of the season
an unseemly blue-green moss climbs the stairway steps

but now the rays of the evening sun falls on the tower and balcony
and it is a cliche to speak of the fine weather echoed by drums and gongs
the flowers on the huan hua river by my straw hut would laugh at me
since they know i cannot be at the same time both an official and a hermit

murphy simultaneously patting his head and rubbing his stomach

von zach XI,38


i come into my village

although the rain has been steady and my gulch is full
only a little mud has washed up on the autumnal sands of my stream
snakes and their young have gone to high ground
the lotus and waterchestnut are barely above the top of the waters

i was already old when i moved to this straw hut
and now i hurry my old horse in haste of my return
the rice and millet would already stand in rows had i stayed
now there are only thorns and weeds to hinder my way

for a long time i have wished to leave si-chuan and return to chang an
but i have been beguiled by this life on the land and have not gone back
for now i must maintain my friendship with yan wu in his headquarters
i am grateful for the work but wish to return to the straw hut for good

murphy finally accepting his diminished future

von zach XI,39


it rains in my village

the rain has pounded down for two straight nights
the cold of late autumn is finally here upon us
when i put my belt on i notice my old red sash of office
when i open my suitcase i see the black fur coat i wore in chang an

i am tempted more and more these days to simply sleep my life away
but i cannot escape from officialdom and the difficulties of the rebellion
the spruce trees and chrysanthemums are washed, and glisten in the rain
the straw hut and its beautiful surroundings comfort this old exile

murphy making do with what he has

von zach XI,40


a sleepless night

the coolness of the bamboo grove penetrates my bedchamber
the wilderness moon illuminates the far corners of my court
a heavy dew has begun to coat the surrounding world
i see only a few stars which flicker here and there

the fireflies seek each other in the darkness
the birds spending the night on the river set up a clamor
in the middle of the maelstrom of this war
i drift helpless as this clear, quiet night dwindles away

murphy restless, but protected within his habitual routines

von zach XI,41


i give voice to my sorrows, a poem in 20 rhymes, that i deferentially give to yan wu

i am the wanderer with a fishing rod on the shores of the shining water
i am the white haired old man full of sorrows in his autumn clarity
why am i in your headquarters at this time
i should have remained fishing in my boat

i am recorded as an official on the yellow register of service
accordingly i am wearing the green robe befitting my position
but my old wife worries incessantly about my rheumatism
and even my daughters are always asking about my frequent headaches

i dodder around and am even apt to fall walking on level ground
and i argue incessantly with my colleagues in office
i use all my feeble strength to perform my duties
and all for the kindness and friendship of yan wu

early on we talked often of poetry and our friendship
now your exploits in war bring fame that even i share
your patient forebearance excuses my bumptious nature
you have extended your help for my physical miseries

but when one is threatened by dew one seeks a wisteria arbor
in a fine rain one seeks cassia bushes for protection
i am like the river turtle caught in the fisherman’s net
or the bird who sings his songs from within a cage

the western mountains surround the north of my village
the south stream flows around to the east of my straw hut
the bamboo there remains green throughout the winter
the berries of the pepper plant show red after the rains

my boat might have been damaged by high waters
my wine jugs at home are empty and need refilling
my hedge has gone wild and sorely needs trimming
my young neighbors pray on my trees with their axes

for my friendship i have bound myself for work in your office
i remain against my better judgement to prove my loyalty
i had hoped to be of use by doing careful work
but my superficial nature has led me to shoddy errors

i always appear for work in the morning when the gates are opened
and stay through the day until the trumpet sounds at evening
i have not yet been able to spend any time at my straw hut
nor have i taken a brief vacation to rest my old body

i am the magpie who will never fly up to touch the milky way
i am the decrepit horse who does not deserve an embroidered saddle cloth
i hope your excellency will consider my humble nature
and return my freedom to rest beside my old wu-tung tree at home

murphy turning in his papers and accepting the gold watch of faithful service

von zach XI,42


a night at headquarters

the chill of autumn permeates headquarters
the scarlet sterculia trees shiver by the well
i sit alone through the night in cheng du fu
the wax candle is nearing its end

the sounds of horns are heard throughout the long night
while i hold a silent monologue with myself
the moon shines brightly from the middle of the sky
but there is no one here to enjoy it but myself

the reality here is that of incessant fighting
there is no more news coming from the native country
the border passes are dangerous and seldom ventured upon
already i have endured this loneliness for ten years

i am forced to spend my time here at headquarters
i must try to find my rest on the branch like a bird

murphy wiggling his toes to stay awake on guard duty

von zach XI,43


under the trees at headquarters

the two orange trees stand to the side, alone
their smell pervades the entire courtyard
their intertwined branches bend down to my field desk
their hanging fruit brush against my clothes, my walking cane

the whole year through their leaves are dark green like the spruce
their fruits come at the same time as the yellow chrysanthemum
i often become wet from the dew on the leaves
as i sit among their branches enjoying the moonlight

murphy finding his pleasures where he can

von zach XI,44


i escort my brother du ying as he leaves for qu zhou (1 of 3)

i stay in the min mountains of si chuan, north of the southern barbarians
now you proceed to xu guan, to the west of the eastern sea
who knows when you will finally arrive at your destination
i give you filial escort as i weep copious tears

only here at the end of the world in si-chuan can one find safety
and now i will be lonely on my walks in the chill autumn winds
in these critical times we have been fortunate to spend some time together
my white-headed old thoughts are muddled by the grief of our separation

murphy getting out of his brother’s car at the airport

von zach XI,45


i escort my brother du ying as he leaves for qu zhou (2 of 3)

the darkness of the riots is beginning to lift
but you leave and i know not when you will return
the separation of brothers is especially hard
and i am old and sick enough as it is

on the yang zi you will reach yi zhu guan tower this evening
while at sundown i will stand on the wang xiang balcony in cheng du fu
my thoughts will remain with you on your path to the northeast
my spirit will search for you in qi zhou where you are to be

murphy beyond all the rivalries of the past

von zach XI,46


i escort my brother du ying as he leaves for qu zhou (3 of 3)

our aunts now live on the shores of the sea
both younger brothers live to the east of tai shan
you will pass near the fighting in order to visit them
when you first came to visit all that was possible

but you must now wear military clothes and be prepared
you ride your horse into the gusting autumn winds
i trust you will soon reach qi zhou, not wander around aimless like myself
i will look for the lone wild goose coming from your area with news

murphy looking forward to the retired staff’s annual reunion

von zach XI,47


the newly planted spruce before the stairs of the office apartment of governor yan wu. i receive the rhyme “chan”

what could such a spindly spruce plant expect from the future
you have only begun to put down roots after being transplanted
yet wind rushing through your neeedles reaches the windows of the office
and your green gleams fresh on the pearl curtains in the sun

one has yet to see the red smoky crown high on a mature tree
up til now there has been no great growth despite tender care
when will you reach full height and broaden your crown
when will your shade protect the eaves of headquarters

murphy at a cocktail party and high enough to be witty

von zach XI,48


yan wu and i sing in the bamboos before the house of the general. i receive the rhyme “xiang”

the green bamboo is half burgeoning new shoots
the young points rise just above the court wall
the broadening new leaves wrap the books in evening darkness
the chill shade makes the wine seem even colder

the rain washes the plants to a pure freshness
the breeze picks up and brings their light odor
if they are not cut back soon for their own good
they will reach far too high in vain reach for the sky

murphy watering his prize bonsai sparingly

von zach XI,49


respectfully i look at a picture of the min mountains in the office of governor yan wu, poem in 10 rhymes. i use the rhyme “wang”

the to river flows past the middle seat of the great hall
the min mountains have been moved to the north wall
the white waves press on the white-washed expanse
the green mountain tips reach up toward the the roof’s carved frame

i am truly surprised at the coolness implied by the painted pines and spruces
i can nearly smell the water chestnuts and the other water plants
yet the snowy clouds appear to be a bit blurred
and the grass on the sandy bank is weakly outlined

the wild goose flying above the ridges is only a small brushstroke
the rainbow above the to river dives into the sleek water
a cloud of red shows the chaos of flowers on the island
the dark green lines of ivy tendrils search a large rock

the valley lies in darkness and seems to be in rain but it is not raining
we stand before a painting for the maple is red from paint not frost
the autumnal town is like the dwelling of a genius in kun-lun
the scenery of the painting reminds me of dong-ting lake area

the artistry of the work is quite astounding
my heart which loves nature leaps with joy
it is true what xie an said in earlier times
mountains and valleys once seen are never forgotten

murphy sitting quietly exuberant at the exhibit of monet’s waterlilies

von zach XI,50


i accompany yan wu on a boat ride in autumn over ma ha lake. i receive the rhyme “xi”

we pass quickly through the waves, the wind whips away our drunkenness
as evening falls we turn back and a fog rises around the levee
autumn has returned with its cold winds to the town of cheng du fu
the evening darkness hides the trees and we lose our way to the landing

we drift through the quiet mandarin ducks who then fly away
we destroy by chance the nest of a kingfisher which falls into the water
we shall not disturb the white heron who looms ahead
he will be our pilot as dark grows on the clear water of the river

murphy whiling away his youth in cold cambridge

von zach XI,51


in yan wu’s company i enjoy the scenery of the north lake

clouds above north lake blend with the waters stretching into the distance
the autumn wind reaches into the marvelous roadside inn on the shore
a lonesome crane maintains its vigil along the lake’s bank
a wilted lotus flower surfaces for a short time on the wind swept water

the stickered burr of the chestnut is gathered in the cold waters
feet stir the mud for the roots of the lotus plants which are then taken
people dip their leisurely oars to ply their trade here and there
some offer their fruit in a golden bowl along the footpath

the luxuriant grass moistened by the dew sparkles its green
a single red flag catches the eye as it flutters in the evening sun
yan-wu allows the guard of the lake to present him with a mug of wine
he has clothing handed out to the surrounding fishermen

in these distant areas chrysanthemums are in bloom early
in my native land they would just be ready to blossom under wu tung trees
on my everlasting travels i think often of chang-an, longing to return
yet i am stuck here with yan-wu until he succeeds in his military affairs

the strictly guarded town gates are about to be closed for the night
but yan-wu knows how to end the party in time for us to leave
what use can i be in advising him on mlitary matters
my job seems to be accompanying the general as he seeks pleasure

murphy the factotum of revelry

von zach XI,52


the onset of winter

although i am quite elderly i go around in a tight military uniform
but now i can go on a short vacation in the newly very cold weather
the fishing boats go upstream on the quick floods
a hunting fire glints its flickering light in the timber forest

every day now i have been in the society of general yan wu
when grief comes upon me i chant of calumny in the ancient liang fu
the fighting is still not coming to an end, and i am continually torn
should i remain in headquarters or retire to loneliness in my old straw hut

murphy standing at the cusp of uselessness

von zach XI,53


chang, the prince’s secretary, gives me a piece of fine brocade

a visitor comes here from chang an to the northwest
he brings with him a piece of fine brocade as a gift
i open the string of the bundle and find wind flecked waves
and within these waves a whale thrashes with his mighty tail

in long unbroken curves are many smaller creatures
and in their numerous variety too many to name
the visitor says, “if it is to upholster your cushion
you will sit upon it with joy at glorious feasts”

“display it in your hall to dispel all ghosts
sleep upon it and experience sweet dreamless sleep”
i thank the visitor for his gift but i am truly ashamed
for i am not a duke or a minister to merit such a treasure

if i keep this present i fear the envy of the gods
if i take this to my straw hut its glory will shine too brightly
the brilliance of clothing denotes one’s level of importance
such distinctions have been with us since antiquity

now i am an old man without any distinguishing rank
in my short, plain blouse i own no further ambition
this exquisite cloth is fit for the emperor’s palace
it will only bring misfortune to be shown in my bedroom

i sigh to myself that during this terrible time of war
men in high places still place an emphasis on such luxuries
because they are in high powerful positions they take advantage
they wear fine mantles of fur and ride on the best fat horses

general li ting perished in the feng xiang fu of old
because he possessed such a pride of self-conceit
and lai tian was ordered to commit suicide
because his arrogance showed his disdain of proper behavior

all my life i have heard the admonition against such show of finery
that the extremely wealthy will always pay for their ostentation with sorrow
how could such an old country bumpkin as myself
accept such a rich example of the trappings of power

i roll up the marvelous woven material with the thrashing whale
and return it to the visitor and feel myself on an even keel again
i shake the dust from my coarse sitting mat and offer a seat
though i am chagrined that i can only offer goose-foot soup to him

murphy in his favorite, ratty old jeans and worn cotton shirt

von zach XI,54


after the winter solstice

after the winter solstice the days slowly begin to lengthen
i am deep inside si chuan and look with longing eyes toward lo yang
i wear the office uniform of headquarters but am no officer
i ride the best official horses, but all this has no meaning for me

i go to the park in the golden valley with the street of bronze camels
the road there does not lead back to the emperor’s palace where i long to be
the plum blossoms here so far from my homeland are deciding to open
yet the beauty they bring leaves me cold and indifferent

being separated from my brothers, i think of them constantly
when my grief overwhelms i turn to poetry to express my feelings
yet when i have finished a poem and i sing it
i am driven yet deeper into my old regrets

murphy reflecting his understanding of the world’s sorrow

von zach XI, 55


i look at the landscape painting in the house of li gu, painted by his younger brother the police officer (1 of 3)

the man of high standing has an unfeigned welcoming of guests
he puts up a bed for me and heats his stove with bamboo
in cold weather he advises i stay with him and not go travelling
he recently added a painting of the green sea on his wall

i am surrounded with the natural beauty of si-chuan’s mountains
but i also look with pleasure at the picture of three isolated islands
since the crowd of immortals have no sad thoughts like myself
they fly over to sit with pleasure on the island of peng lai

murphy reading about the aesir in valhalla

von zach XI,56


i look at the landscape painting in the house of li gu, painted by his younger brother the police officer (2 of 3)

the islands of the immortals are surrounded by an infinite water
the tian tai mountain is thoroughly enwreathed with clouds
in this world one often sees images of this mountain and these islands
at my age i would not only like to see them, but to fly myself there

fan li’s boat depicted here is exceedingly small
wang zi qiao’s crane is also quite diminutive
my life follows that of the whole of nature
but there must be a way to be freed from the dust of this world

murphy wondering if narcotics might free his mind to new levels of insight

von zach XI,57


i look at the landscape painting in the house of li gu, painted by his younger brother the police officer (3 of 3)

the high waves in the picture threaten to upset the house of li gu
the overhanging cliff wall falls nearly on my bed
the bridge in the wilderness is sharply outined
the sandy shore limits the sea only in a blurry way

the red buried under the surface represents branches of coral
the green hanging down from the rocks looks to be fig ivy
the oared raft in the picture can still take up somebody
oh, how i wish the old immortal would take me along with him

murphy letting his daydream become too realistic

von zach XI,58


i lament the death of zheng qian, finance controller of tai zhou, and of su yuan ming, under-secretary of the cabinet office, 764

who among my old friends loved me throughout our lives
the two most true were zheng qian and su yuan ming
the living and the dead are forever parted
and now in this time of war i must forge on alone

which authors of immense talent are still alive with us
with both of these men gone, great literature has disappeared
while i was wandering wide distances from chang an
both funeral messages reached me in the same year

su died during a summer day in the center of chang an
zheng qian died on a clear autumn day in the bay of the big sea
su’s grave lies in chang an under the zodiac sign of the big dipper
the way into the underworld that zheng has taken lies in east wu

zheng was sent in exile to tai zhou because of an offense
at such a critical time a scholar such as he was sent away
su was appointed to the court at chang an, where he was reclusive
this august man died of hunger when rice became too expensive

my tears can bring neither of them back to this life
i am filled with indignation that neither was treated fairly
because of the way the nobility handles itself i have given my life to poetry
because my heart is so desparate, i have made wine my constant companion

both took me up into their circle of friends though my skill is low
i always strove to follow their example without feeling overshadowed
like ban gu and yang xiong they became more and more famous
like xi kang and ruan ji they both treasured their independence

they both should have been appointed to high positions
high character and unhappy destiny should not have been intertwined
the competent cannot always show their true abilities
and both these men were given only a short time in court

they were both active when emperor su zong suppressed the riots
as a result of divine regulations they did not receive adequate salaries
later su yang ming in his leisure examined the old classics
zheng qian swallowed his disappointment studying the secrets of yin fu jing

the doubts and misunderstandings of our long friendship receded in time
now in my misery about their deaths my will to live is filled with despair
now i live in si chuan whose customs are not those of the homeland
i live as a stranger surrounded by the snowy mountains

already in my youth i strove to be like these two men
our friendship has always been like the relations of brothers
my wish to offer libation to my dead friends must now remain unfulfilled
and alas they are both too far away for me to cry over their graves

i have become ill because of the waters of si chuan
here in my misery i have become old in cheng du fu
i can certainly not find my way to their sides wandering in si chuan
as the world becomes more and more choked by the weeds of war

murphy carefully reading the obituaries in the harvard magazine

von zach XI,59


i must leave

have you not seen the falcon on the leather sleeve of the hunter
as soon as he is fed he wants to break away and fly off free
how could he be like the searching house swallow
who seeks a warm little place to build a nest with the mud in its beak

a man of the wilderness is freedom loving and ashamed to carry a mask
how can such as he exist for long among princes and the privileged
i have not tried the method of li-you who mixed elixir with jade
i must be off to the lan tian mountains on the morrow to seek my gems

murphy smelling the weed carefully before the purchase is consummated

von zach XI,60

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *