murphy’s du fu von zach XIV

XIV,1 on the first day of the seventh month i write two poems on the water pavilion of district judge zhong (1 of 2)
XIV,2 on the first day of the seventh month i write two poems on the water pavilion of district judge zhong (2 of 2)
XIV,3 on the third day of the seventh month the heat of afternoon bothered me, but i slept soundly in the chill of an evening breeze. i write a poem about this and send it in jest to my young friend, the section head yuan, 21st of his clan.
XIV,4 the cattle shepherd and the weaver
XIV,5 in this dreadful heat i send this verse as a letter to my younger cousin on my  mother’s side, cui, 16th of his clan, an officer of the da li si
XIV,6 rain (1 of 3)
XIV,7 rain (2 of 3)
XIV,8 rain (3 of 3)
XIV,9 i plant greens in the fall
XIV,10 fair weather in the evening
XIV,11 overnight in the apartment by the river
XIV,12 white salt mountain
XIV,13 the yan yu rock
XIV,14 in chu tang gorge thinking of antiquity
XIV,15 yellow grass gorge
XIV,16 in the company of the chief censor bo zhen jie, governor of kui zhou, i watch the officers and men share a banquet (1 of 2)
XIV,17 in the company of the chief censor bo zhen jie, governor of kui zhou, i watch the officers and men share a banquet (2 of 2)
XIV,18 respectfully i receive a personal letter from prince li yu from han zhong wherein he informs me of the death of censor wei and the taoist priest xiao
XIV,19 i look in the mirror and seal these verses to be given to chief censor bo zhen jie
XIV,20 i listen to the songstress yang
XIV,21 on an autumn day in kui zhou i sing of my feelings. i respectfully offer these verses to zheng shen, the sub-director of the secret archives, and to li zhi fang, the master of  ceremonies for the crown prince. poem in 100 rhymes.
XIV,22 life and death, impromptu poems in two stanzas (1 of 2)
XIV,23 life and death, impromptu poems in two stanzas (2 of 2)
XIV,24 i give my younger cousin, fifteenth of his clan, an escort as he leaves as censor to serve as imperial commissioner at cheng du fu
XIV,25 i give this poem to gung-cao officer li as i escort him on his journey to jing zhou to replace censor zheng as auditor.
XIV,26 i say goodbye to cui who travels to ho nan and send at the same time these verses for xie ju and meng yun qing
XIV,27 from my wretched hut in the yang zi gorges i respectfully dedicate these verses to my fourth uncle on my maternal side (the censor) as he leaves for li zhou and zhang zhou
XIV,28 have you not seen  (verses i send to su xi instead of a letter)
XIV,29 i dedicate these verses to su xi, fourth of his clan
XIV,30 i take leave of su-xi who proceeds to the headquarters in ho nan
XIV,31 wanderings of my youth
XIV,32 the fortress at bo di cheng
XIV,33 rain
XIV,34 fair weather after the rain
XIV,35 my hair is almost completely white
XIV,36 in the women’s room of the palace
XIV,37 once
XIV,38 an excellent painter
XIV,39 cock fighting
XIV,40 many and diverse the joys
XIV,41 lo yang
XIV,42 the pleasure palace on li shan mountain
XIV,43 the lands of the fief princes





on the first day of the seventh month i write two poems on the water pavilion of district judge zhong (1 of 2)

under the mighty beams and within the high windows it is cool
already the autumn winds test the warmth of my garments
soon there will be the snow which comes from the yin mountains
i do not wish to leave this water pavilion and go back to my stuffy office

clouds moving over steep mountains look like brocade and embroideries
the spindly spruces on the far side of the pond are pushed by the wind
you should be appointed like wang qiao was as district judge of she-xian
i feel strongly this appointment will soon by announced by the emperor

murphy keeping up his contacts within the heirarchy

von zach XIV,1





on the first day of the seventh month i write two poems on the water pavilion of district judge zhong (2 of 2)

fu zi jian in his leisure played music while justice of the peace in dan fu
zhong jun threw away his passport, confident of appointment in shen si
your character is that of the zhong family insuring its continuation
you lead with cheerfulness and competence as did the venerable fu

how marvelous that such a gathering of dignified officials honors you
yet i wonder how this old unimportant man who writes verses could possibly fit in
in wu gulch here beside the yang zi it is always cloudy or rainy
on the chill mats behind the bamboo screens i watch the guests play go

murphy always the odd man out

von zach XIV,2





on the third day of the seventh month the heat of afternoon bothered me, but i slept soundly in the chill of an evening breeze. i write a poem about this and send it in jest to my young friend, the section head yuan, 21st of his clan.

now once again autumn comes with its cooling days
the heat of summer has begun to give up its reign
during my elder years i live as a stranger in the hot south
yet once again the weather has brought my desires back to life

now i sweat less in the heat of the midday sun, and at night
i sleep soundly through the clamor of my neighbors
the evening breeze cools my black cap, my muscles
though nearly broken down begin to revive again

during this summer my eyes closed for a hundred nights without sleep
and even the yang zi could not slake my never ending thirst
the rain gained my hatred because of its continuing absence
the demon of drought approached with its dulling steps

the gardens produced few vegetables which were rare as gems
and one usually found nothing which was worthy of picking
thick clouds came only a few times but then disappeared
no rain fell to earth for the entire, interminable season

in antiquity zang wen zhong proscribed burning witches to bring forth rain
duke wu of zhou himself helped victims of heat stroke felled on the street
now finally yin  and yang have switched places as host and guest
and the seasons have changed again from high heat to become cool

only the final clarity of autumn pleasantly refreshes
when the oppressive smokes of summer are fully cleared
then one hears the rushing flight of the wild geese
flying from the great wall south in their precise formations

i am suddenly reminded of the time in my youth when white frost appeared
and the steps leading from the gate were covered with slick ice
i then rode a tatar horse with a curved bow in my arms
and when my arrow was sent whirring it always found its mark

i pursued the crafty hare with an iron tipped shaft
the bow became as the full moon when fully drawn
now in my old age i sing sad songs about the snow in my hair
gone forever are the places where earlier i indulged my joys

from my window i look over to see your mountain villa
blurred from the formidable distance which separates us
my ecstatic friend there prepares his elixir of life
yet he has as yet refrained from inviting me over

when i was young i pursued only fun and pleasure
and thought not of elixirs but now that joy has disappeared
i walk my floor with a cane in this time of war
old and sick as i am your elixir would be hard put to help such as i

you should gain immortality with its use, like the dragon in the pond
you are waiting to be lifted to heaven by the divine wind
i can only hope for a steady sleep which is akin to immortality
after i seize the brush to form this poem i trust i shall achieve such sleep

murphy kvetching again about the twinges of age

von zach XIV,3




the cattle shepherd and the weaver

the star of the cattle shepherd is west of the milky way
the star of the weaver lies on the eastern side
since the oldest times they have stared across at each other
even on the seventh night of the seventh month they cannot meet

one cannot wait for the union of their miraculous rays
thus their story seems in the end but an idle fiction
yet spirits are able to unite instantaneously over far distances
why should any of these wait until autumn to come together

on double sevens it is said the weaver‘s slender figure is bedecked for travel
and a wagon drawn by dragons awaits her in the heavens
because of her that evening, people come together for shared festivities
even the children are happy to join in the invocations which are offered

everywhere the parties are celebrated in the family as a group
from reed-covered huts to the palaces of the highest nobility
in the palace halls the tables are covered with sacrificial food
jeweled pendants of the palace women add a somber sound as they enter

everywhere in china clothes are hung out to air on this night
in belief that the light winds of the lunar light will bring a freshness
at the party superstitious women believe they gain skills in crafts
if cobwebs cover the sacrificial fruits; and the spiders collude to make it so

the party begins when the dew first begins to gather on the ground
and it ends only when the sun shows the first light of a new day
unfortunately the slender weaver will never be married
one takes this to heart and gives voice to one’s grief

the weaver always protects her body and keeps herself chaste with her loom
as is the custom for all young women who obey the customs and laws
although the weaver does not have to provide for the parents of a husband
she dare not neglect her work of spinning and weaving her webs

her relation to the cattle shepherd the loyal connection of ruler and minister
despite their proximity an offense against ceremony can not be tolerated
a woman shows all through the public wedding ceremony
that her love originates in her esteem of her husband

everyone whether rich or poor should marry in the end
and the ceremony of the occasion must always be observed
if a marriage should occur without ceremony the shaft does not fit the axe
and the husband will become a tyrant who disrespects the wife’s lapse

murphy bringing the spirit to the people by building his ceremonial fire

von zach XIV,4




in this dreadful heat i send this verse as a letter to my younger cousin on my mother’s side, cui, sixteenth of his clan, an officer of the da li si

the big fire star refuses to give over to the time of autumn
the lands of jing and yang have yet to feel a cooling breeze
the birds in the woods sit with drooping wings
there are no ships which venture onto the low river waters

in the houses nothing is done but sweeping the ground to sleep upon
the gates remain closed and all human activity has stopped
i am an old man who is filled with a hundred worries
cheerless i sit while strangers fight amongst themselves

in the evenings snakes come brazenly forth
i am afraid of lying down in darkness on my wretched bed
but one hates to burn candles during the hot nights
so i sit sleepless while my thoughts turn to the native country

i open my jacket and think longingly of my cousin cui
because of the excessive heat i bare my white head
if i put on a belt it digs into my back sharp as thorns
even a short walk in the neighborhood is difficult for me

when will the welcome chill of fall finally arrive
i would greet it then on the tower beside the stream
where can you and i speak again about the lines of the yi jing
where will we again share the recitation of poems

you are distinguished by your restraint and modesty
you unlike others require nothing extraneous to intrude upon self
you have been an excellent imperial commissioner
you stand above others with your righteousness and skills

you are among the officials who are as valuable as the wood from ji and chu
you stand out as a great racer among the steeds in the imperial stables
this short poem will inform you of my thoughts of the moment
and my sad condition will be understood by you, my life-long friend

murphy older and somewhat more embittered

von zach XIV,5





rain (1 of 3)

now in the early morning clouds rise above the gorges of the yang zi
fogs which hug the ground are reluctant to release their hold
wind rises above the broad blue stream
rain runs down the sheer cliff walls

cold has become more and more bitter
bringing here a continuous roar of thunder
the temperature of the region has suddenly changed
the long held heat has finally disappeared

birds have left their perches within the sodden high trees
while the people around me have not yet opened their gates
though the palace of duke xiang of chu is long now gone
the rain reminds of the sad sounds of his dancer’s girdle pendants

the chamberlain of the duke recorded his dreams in verse
these poetic descriptions surpass in their beauty all others in antiquity
the blue dragons borne on the wind which bring the rain
were first described on the wu shan balcony at that time

murphy unable to parse anything new without a remembrance of past readings

von zach XIV,6




rain (2 of 3)

this rain has made it impossible to see the green of the mountains
the shining dews of the season are indiscernible in these downpours
numerous clouds crowd the sky above the yang zi
the sandy banks are awash with the rushing runoff

the unusual customs of this area remind of nesting birds
high balconies abound which look down on the wind-whipped shore
a good friend has just left on a long arduous journey
i am sunk in my thoughts of longing for his presence

i think i see his craft far, far off midst the high waves
the river is very choppy between the lands of chu and wu
now during the long rain dragons and reptiles come out everywhere
i can only trust my friend does not meet up with swarms of robbers

murphy cursed with a lack of mobility in his old age

von zach XIV,7





rain (3 of 3)

at midnight a change in weather looms over the desolate mountains
a light breeze blows cold over my my small compound
but by early morning a whirlwind clears the air
and all of nature appears in its luxuriant green

the clouds seem to rise from out the mountain caves
the sky high rocks seem dark and blurred
the rain removes the glimmer shining on the yang zi
where will the sun smash through this darkness

on the river i see mast after mast of ships from jing zhou
the soldiers on deck shoulder their spears and hooked lances
they have the task to defend cao zhen to the south
and, pitiably, they are thoroughly drenched on their long trip

the rebels have come down from bi shan to kui zhou
and the general plans to confront them there if he can
clouds gleam again in the far distance above the deep river
the small boats begin to be rowed to their destined places

only the fishing boats remain idle along the shore
as the foreign songs of the woodcutters rise from the forest
i am only a feeble old man left here in my loneliness
i grab the paintbrush and ply it from morning til night

murphy watching the news on television in his glassed-in cave

von zach XIV,8





i plant greens in the fall

now finally it has begun to rain again though fall has also arrived. i decided to try to grow a small vegetable patch outside my hall despite the season. i divided the small separate patches of plants with salad greens between. it has already been twenty days and the salad plants have not grown, nor has anything else except the wild spinach. i am saddened that this is so and am reminded that noble men of the present who have only a small salary late in life need such endeavors to work in order to get by. accordingly i have written this poem.

when both yin and yang are mixed with each other
excessive heat or rain do not pervert the natural world
however when dryness rules excessively in the south
these areas are pushed sadly to become brown and to burn

half the vegetation which supports life has died
and the rice is also nearly gone and withering to the ground
but then storm clouds suddenly moved in, driven through the skies
the gods of rain and wind combining their great strengths

they ordered the red shining sun to hide from our eyes
thick black clouds roiled overhead disturbing the blue heavens
just before the rain came a roaring, tearing wind
the driving rain bent everything toward the west

everywhere on the mountains watercourses streamed into the yang zi
their thundering noise is still yet ringing in my ears
it rained the whole day through and into the night and next day
only after two nights did the noise of the rushing waters begin to fade

but now one can perhaps grow a few plants in a vegetable garden
i call the servant and tell him to begin work to do so
salad greens are what i most desire for him to grow
and ask him to outline the small patches of other plants with their seed

the soil is soon broken up in the small patches as ordered
all the work is proceeding according to plan
yet now after twenty days the seeds have not yet risen as plants
and all around the area i can see only the mud

the only plant to be seen is the wild spinach all around
i do not know where its seeds come from but it grows in abundance
perhaps this plant grows late into the fall months
but eventually even it will be killed by the cold dews

in contrast to lettuce the spinach grows very quickly
and soon covers much of the ground around my court
i infer from this that evil will ultimately counteract the good
and that the good is covered until it cannot sustain life

a man of high moral standing even as he attains office
sticks to his ethics and resists exploiting others to become rich
weeds will overgrow magic mushrooms and beautiful orchids
they do so even more than the hated bushes of thorns

when the garden covers itself with weeds as it has done
this old gardener is forced to bow his head in shame
if only wild spinach could be served to rest on jade plates as salad
or be presented as a precious gift lying on cloud-like silk

yes, if wild spinach cannot be used for such splendid ends
it must be thrown away to disappear in the basket of rubbish

murphy picking out ripe pears in january flown in from chile

von zach XIV,9




fair weather in the evening

the slant of evening light begins to fade and disappear
thin clouds not yet retreated to their home above the mountains
a shining rainbow dips into the stream to drink its distant floods
the gorges accept the last few drops of today’s rains

wild geese and cranes soar high overhead in the winds
wolves and bears imagine themselves full and fat for the winter
it is now autumn and i am still far from my home
later on dew on the bamboo shines in the moonlight

murphy happy, fishing on the riverbank at dusk

von zach XIV,10





overnight in the apartment by the river

evening here, the shadows creep up the mountain path
here, here in my eagle’s nest, close above the water gate
some few thin clouds tangle the edges of the cliffs
the bright lonely moon scatters its heart on the waves

that line of cranes i see stays silent
i hear wolves howl over their meat
i can’t find sleep, i worry of war
how can small i change the world

murphy hard at it over breakfast

von zach XIV, 11





white salt mountain

the mountain rises steeply, topped by a mass of peaks
its foothills interlaced with the swift huang long tan stream
all other mountains sit broadly on the sure earth
you alone elevate yourself to approach heaven in the sky

a town lies in the foothills with a thousand homes, all white
countless merchant ships lie at anchor in the chill autumn
poets are inspired to write verses while here
but who in the end will spread these words of praise

murphy moved by the muse and spreading her seeds

von zach XIV,12





the yan yu rock

an immense rock lies here in the middle of the floods
during the cold season it lies high out of the water
then a bull is drowned to honor the gods of the rain
after the rains only the tip of the rock is left to warn off ships

the gods have placed many dangers so men must always take heed
this rock has been here since the creation of the world from chaos
because of the war and the riots i must moor my boat at many places
and i remind myself not to sit at the edge of a hall lest tiles fall on my head

murphy not walking under the painter’s ladder

von zach XIV,13





in chu tang gorge thinking of antiquity

ten thousand streams course their way here from the southwest
meeting they race through mighty cliffs facing each other like enemies
the earth has split here down to the roots of the mountains
to accept the outrush from the west in the lunar caves

both cliff walls rise steeply to the height of the bo di cheng fortress
in a desolate hollow of the gorge lies the yang balcony of duke xiang of chu
the entrance to this gorge of the da yu is an extremely large opening
the immense hand of the creative power is made manifest

murphy taking film snapshots with his old 35mm

von zach XIV,14





yellow grass gorge

the ships which have gone from the gorge west to si chuan
have not returned, not one person has returned to kui zhou
here at the foot of the chi jia mountain few men are seen
they have all gone as soldiers to fight in si chuan

alas, we have also learned nothing of the fate of li zhi fang
the imperial commissioner held in cheng du fu by the rebels
we know there have been battles in cheng du fu
but we have heard little of their outcome, and all of it contradictory

we have had the autumn winds spread their rain over ten thousand miles
all the tributaries have greatly swelled the size of the yang zi
goodbyes were said everywhere to the young men moving out to battle
the gauze garments of the women were awash with bitter tears

do not give up hope, all will not be lost
sword gate pass will not remain in the hands of the rebels
i have recently heard a small bit of good news
the city of song zhou has been encircled by our brave men

murphy reading tea leaves in a vain effort to foresee the future

von zach XIV,15




in the company of the chief censor bo zhen jie, governor of kui zhou, i watch the officers and men share a banquet (1 of 2)

the officers and men are festive in their exuberant behavior
who would think they have only recently seen a hundred battlefields
they certainly deserve the abundant feast you have graciously provided
they sit long with you, bearer of the golden seal, in intimate entertainment

i am drunk from repetitively emptying my mug formed from a mussel shell
the dancers twirl in their costumes festooned with images of the phoenix
since you recently arrived here as an imperial commissioner
troops are royally entertained with dancing, food, and plenteous drink

murphy thankful for the feast, seated in the back of the hall

von zach XIV,16





in the company of the chief censor bo zhen jie, governor of kui zhou, i watch the officers and men share a banquet (2 of 2)

the edge of the canopy is decorated with richly embroidered silk
golden flowers are inlaid on the bodies of the musician‘s drums
a soldier rises and performs an intricate sword dance
a choir of a hundred voices sing songs of the woodsmen of kui zhou

this city lies midst trees on the banks of the yang zi, isolated and abandoned
you are the first commissioner to come here from chang an for a long time
the emperor appointed military leaders for the fight against the enemy
they have picked a man comparable to he qu bing in the time of the han

murphy giving flattery where it is richly deserved

von zach XIV,17





respectfully i receive a personal letter from prince li yu from han zhong wherein he informs me of the death of censor wei and the taoist priest xiao

this autumn xiao and wei have died which has occasioned a letter to me
li yu, prince of han zhong, has reached his hand to the gorges of the yang zi
it is hard to believe a second lao zi such as wei should die while still young
and that xiao did not benefit from his devotion to the elixir of life

both these deaths are regretted by all learned men of today
and they remind me that my way in this life is nearing its end
this pain of mourning merely adds to my great sickness
they were both my friends since my childhood

everywhere i hear flutes in the neighborhood which bring back memories
and i continue to wander this earth like the wind blown thistledown
i force myself to sing the sad fu of pan-yo on the recollection of old friends
i who have the long memories and white hair of an old man

murphy watching his cronies fall one by one

von zach XIV,18




i look in the mirror and seal these verses to be given to chief censor bo zhen jie

the wei river flows in shen si where i long to be
there also lie the zhong nan mountains near beloved chang an
my energies were lost in the caves of tigers and wolves in si chuan
my tears fell there in the alien lands of the barbarians

now in my sickness i arise too late to serve as an official
and my slow faltering steps preclude my becoming one with the immortals
in the mirror i see only a dilapidated, withered old face
perhaps my old friend bo zhen jie will look upon me with compassion

murphy wondering how long into old age a stiff upper lip will last

von zach XIV,19





i listen to the songstress yang

i am listening to a beautiful young woman sing wonderfully well
she stands before the assembled crowd and bares her white teeth in a smile
the guests in the hall are saddened and do not applaud
the sad sounds seem to come down from the heavens on high

moonlight beams onto the town beside the yang zi
the song is even more sad because it rises into such a bright night
the elderly people in the audience lament their growing so old
the young are moved to the copious tears of their fresh emotions

the jade mugs of wine are forgotten for a while
the gilt flutes stumble in their notes overwhelmed by the song’s power
it is not as if only the listeners are struck dumb
everything, the gates and the very air seem frozen in their place

did not the outstanding people in antiquity wish for one special friend
one who would be able to touch their hearts with understanding
i have heard that once the songstress qin qing
was able to capture the ear of the entire world

murphy quieting self to let nature intrude

von zach XIV,20




on an autumn day in ku zhou i sing of my feelings. i respectfully offer these verses to  zheng shen, the sub-director of the secret archives, and to li zhi fang, the master of ceremonies for the crown prince. poem in 100 rhymes.

to the north of the black barbarians on the outermost border
here where the lonely fort of the white emperor lies
i still try to walk every day within the broad area of kui zhou
but for the last three years here i have been ill with an insatiable thirst

but now like a sword rattling in an open box i feel my spirits rise
and i have loaded my heaps of books and writings onto a docked ship
the heart of this refugee from the unrest finds little amusement in life
the days of an aging man are sad indeed, and lonesome

i have always endeavored to provide for my wife and children
but time has taken my best days and left me broken and weak
yet i have seen many beautiful sights in my wanderings
and i have endeavored to keep up my creative powers in poetry

the yang zi springs forth from a narrowness of gorge
and where the rocks become more open old trees have spread
rising high toward the clouds they darken the air of zhu
and then on to the sea the stream flows under the sky of wu

here salt is quickly prepared by boiling the water of salt springs
by burning the undergrowth one makes the dry land quite fertile
one may often be frightened by the piles of mountain ranges overhead
then one looks frantically for the coming of a level bank area

mandarin ducks play in the waters, most often in pairs
monkeys hang down in groups from the branches of the trees
long tendrils of green ivy remind one of hanging girdle bands
strewn on the shore are stones of striped granite small as copper coins

here the spring grass never wilts from dryness nor cold
and blossoms continue to delight during the colder seasons
the hunters all around stoke the everburning guard fires
hostels in the country all pipe in drinking water from nearby mountains

the people wake me here and i scratch sparse white hair
i have worn out countless shoes walking with my cane
in the capitals of chang an and lo yang i still have a little property
but alas all my old friends and patrons are gone

for a time in the past i served yan wu as his personal secretary
and then had the good fortune of working in the employment bureau
but then just as the melons were becoming ripe i was removed
and began to float again like a waterchestnut with nothing to hold onto

my medicines lie before me now in a tangled mess
but really the brisk winds of autumn will do more for my health
i would open my heart to one who would ease my suffering
he who would clear all the fogs and clouds from my being

a gala banquet is given as a politeness from the governor
the honored guests of kui zhou are treated to beautiful singing girls
as i sit to enjoy, the plaintive pipa saddens this sick old man
though the banquet hall would be the envy of the immortal geniuses

now we hear melodies created in the southern palace in the kai-yuan period
those which originated in the emperor’s pear garden opera troop
these taoistic songs intertwine melodies in several voices
all the audience are moved to shed copious tears

i sit in the cloud of my loneliness here in kui zhou
the longing for my home village of du ling overwhelms
once only the wei river flowed through the long-jiu gate at chang an
cursed was the day the same gate let in the stinking turfan

men like geng yan and jia fu supported the imperial house during the han
men like xiao he and cao can assembled round the throne of great su zong
relying on the imperial prestige they exterminated the wasps and scorpions
with their combined forces they swooped like kites and falcons

the traditional possessions of the dynasty survived in their vastness
but even this did not change the wickedness of the rebels
the government determined to continue the fight to exterminate the aliens
but the people were tired and desired a return to normalcy and peace

but what should slaves know but what they have been told
the beneficence of the emperor had given them a false sense of power
the star of the western barbarians came roaring like a comet
and the chinese people found themselves sore in their need

the emperor issued painful edicts assuming blame for the tragedy
he began to abolish all the laws considered oppressive
the new rule began in the first year of dai zhong‘s trip to shen zhou
he wrapped himself there in the expectations of the holidays

the new regulations promulgated by the emperor were carefully constructed
the assistance offered to the throne on high was perfectly prepared
zhou wen wang brought back the wise tai gong instead of bears and wolves
and the people praised zhou xuan wang because dai zhong used good men

i listen with reverence to the speeches of the ruler of this rebirth
with drawn out sigh i wish for men such as you to fill the needs of this time
letters have often come to me from zheng in jiang ling
and from my friend li who lives a thousand miles away

the poetry of you both have been praised throughout the land
your literary abilities far outshine the modicum i possess
your poems have always shown a clarity and cleanness of form
it is as if we had another shen quan qi side by side with song zhi wen

melody in your verses reminds of bamboo flutes of the kun lun mountains
music in your poems reflects the slow and quick string playing of han ying
the independence of your styles has been praised by all
one forgets at times the relevance of your models to the poetry of antiquity

your hospitality, zheng, compares to that of zheng dang shi of han times
you, li, have attained honors comparable to the estimable li ying of yore
and even though i am not qualified now to participate in ceremonies
i have not forgotten the kind treatment you both have given me

and because of your honorable points of view others gather round you
they come without prejudice to praise your high morality
the horses who come to the capital are all first class racers
the call of the cranes demonstrate they come from the qing tian mountains

you, oh li, came to be the master of ceremonies for the crown prince
and have only recently been fitted for your special brocade coat
you, oh zheng, came from dung guan as sub-manager of the secret archives
and have taken your new silk hat into the seclusion of your position

in your leisure, oh li, you are said to write poems on the walls of your house
while you, oh zheng, beat time for your songs on the hull of your boat
you both take time to visit places with marvelous scenery
and you write me letters with your verses on flower scented paper

many times now i feel as if i should retire to my loneliness
but unfortunately i am held back from this ease by my many worries
i feel that my entire life has been wasted and served no purpose
and added to this is the precarious state of the empire today

my beloved straw hut in cheng du fu has been laid waste
all the places i found pleasure in have been taken from me
the pain of separation from my brothers and sisters is especially deep
on the holidays my inability to sacrifice to my ancestors brings copious tears

chrysanthemums in chang an are beautiful when glistening with dew
the autumn vegetables throw broad shade in the eastern capital lo yang
who now can speak to me about the glories of the past
how many new cemeteries are filled with my old friends

i have given up striving for wealth and the respect of officialdom
in this noisy fight for existence i no longer respond to the crack of the whip
yet while the dust of the war and its battles fills the air in thick clouds
the moon still gleams with its old beauty between the rivers jiang and han

in my confined movements these days i still watch the swallows of autumn
and i look forward to the last sounds of the cicada before the winter
and the modern stylist lurking in my brush has not forgotten you
in your letters you always ask about me, this old sickly person that’s left

i envy yan zun his house built with the riches he earned as a soothsayer
in my house i have only a carpet left behind by the barbarian raiders
if my pocket becomes empty i must sell hairpins and bracelets
when the rice is used up i must ask my wife to sell her headdress for money

yet oranges in my garden prosper in the shade of their glossy leaves
though the roof of my humble hut here has barely 8 or 9 rafters
ruins from the war of zhu ge liang lie on the sandy shore north of kui zhou
while the jetty for mooring ships lies on the spit of nag xi

my heart is continually depressed caused by separation from my homeland
yet this period of enforced rest has seen a betterment of my overall health
various herbs from the min mountains have helped my congested lungs
as well as lotus plants which come from ponds of the lu family in zhe giang

the pears which grow around have rosier cheeks than those of a pretty girl
and chestnuts are almost fist size and in a luxuriant fullness
yet there is only a small courtyard to supply my kitchen with most things
and if i were to feel full i would eat eel three times a day

the children often go down to watch the fish traps to amuse themselves
when guests come to visit i can only offer horse blankets to sit upon
the narrow door to the house is formed of wood slats tied together
water drips down from the towering bamboo onto entering guests

the ditch around my home fronts on state fields
the village leans against the wall of a landed cloister
the gaps in my fence are filled with thornbushes
overhanging rocks thwart attempts to climb over them

i ask myself is it necessary to always go to audience early in the morning
or whether it is permissible to sleep soundly until midday
who could say when it is too far to go to reach the court
and i can build up my strength by staying in kui zhou

i haven’t worn the imperial silver embroidered uniform for a very long time
i think with longing on the times i spent in clouds of incense at the ministry
for both of you the violet phoenix is always near to fly to the heights
for me i am content to see a yellow sparrow return to his nest in my tree

my education was such that i am now out of touch with modern times
you, however, the enlightened, must muster your forces for the emperor
your fame has already penetrated to the innermost court
sooner or later you will both become treasured ministers

you will choose frank advisers for the throne, as did kuang heng
you will recognize important scholars as well, as did fu jian
you will offer your deeply felt true opinions to the emperor
and thereby perhaps the government will continue its improvement

the emperor now is full of grief and restlessness, eating only after sundown
the people as a whole are generally miserable and afflicted with illness
on the cloud balcony you may be consulted the whole day through
who else but those like you have biographies in the historical works

the strain on me to travel to visit you will be difficult
but i will persist in my resolve to see you with my own eyes
quick oars are always ready to begin such a journey
and this time i will remember to bring weapons to oppose any robbers

for a long time i have wanted to withdraw into a cloister in the mountains
as philosophy i lean toward contemplation of the seven buddhist patriarchs
after my arrival in the enclave i wish to consider the history of the past
wearing my hair shirt i will dig into the texts of antiquity

zheng, your fame is like that of the brilliant xie an in the jin dynasty
you, oh li, are like the hospitable zhao wang whose guests gathered round
on my way to you i will not wail as did once ruan ji not knowing his way
but will reach my goal as once did the renowned zhang jian

there are still clouds which must be parted to realize our reunion
i must stay here for only a bit longer for my health
but in the end my ship will cut the waves with favorable winds
and the water monsters will be unable to throw up too much foam

soon enough i will say goodbye to the wu shan fairy here
and will hear no more the call of the cuckoo in the spring
our pure friendship will continue whether we eventually meet or not
but i so wish to move through waters from my cloister to your side

i have always felt akin to the kas’yapa buddha reincarnated as lao zi
i have always found repose apprenticed to the geniuses of the dao
the incense cauldron shines in my memory of the lu mountains
the well of oranges is yet to be found in the higher reaches of the ma ling

in the east i wish to visit liao-dung where ding ling wei returned as a crane
to the south i want to see where ma yuan threw a vulture to the waves
lately i have heard of available apprenticeships in buddhist monasteries
with this last journey i wish to correct some of my earlier mistakes

gu kai zhi was glorified in the picture by wang che
he has written a beautiful grave inscription for the dhuta temple
all possible fragrances rise from the depths of these marvelous sites
how many more cloisters will i see in their settings of shining greens

brave determination shall become the purpose of my heart
and if i do not nurture it my weak body will become even thinner
but i fear i use the golden knife in vain to sting the star of ignorance
i cannot free my heart from doubting thoughts of the reality of this world

murphy revisiting the angst of his teenage identity crisis

von zach XIV,21




life and death, impromptu poems in two stanzas (1 of 2)

the daoist priest xi qian is no longer seen playing chess, yet he still lives
however, one still finds new poems from the dead poet bi yao
many people laughed during earlier days around the go board of xi qian
how few mourn at the grave of bi yao where the white poplar tree stands

murphy lurking out of sight and thus out of mind

von zach XIV,22





life and death, impromptu poems in two stanzas (2 of 2)

the painter of nature zheng qian has passed into the everlasting night
the painter of horses cao ba has already become an old man
where in the world are landscapes like those of zhen qian produced today
while the worth of a horse painted by cao ba is now inestimable

murphy checking off his list of friends who have gone

von zach XIV,23





i give my younger cousin, fifteenth of his clan, an escort as he leaves as censor to serve as imperial commissioner at cheng du fu

your progress in the literary arts pleases me greatly
as you leave i am deeply moved by the woe of resignation
we drink together the departing mugs of local wine
now your boat will be pulled up by ropes to your destination

the fights of the rioting wolves still rage around cheng du fu
i aged quickly in my time there and was unable to help stop the fighting
you as a young man can make the return trip to chang an easily
you should report to the emperor concerning the ringleaders this autumn

murphy cheering from the sidelines with muscle memory twitches throughout his frame

von zach XIV,24





i give this poem to gung cao officer li as i escort him on his journey to jing zhou to replace censor zheng as auditor.

when first i learned that song yu’s house was in jing zhou
i wished to visit there and have always kept this desire since
here in kui zhou i spend difficult days in my advanced age
i now rage against the coming of autumn as did once song yu

when you are there you can stand on the famed balcony
and admire the sun setting over the more than nine arms of the river
although your position brings with it much prestige and glory
you will find sadness in the sight of the green maple woods so far from your homeland

murphy letting go some of the treasured dreams of his youth

von zach XIV,25





i say goodbye to cui who travels to ho nan and send at the same time these verses for xie ju and meng yun qing

a prudent man travels far only when it is necessary
but when a good friend calls one is hard pressed not to go
after all one cannot spend one’s entire life seeking perfection
by protecting oneself from the contamination of the outside world

one hears day and night from everyone how the emperor needs good men
now that you have been chosen you must hurry to help save the country
in jing zhou you will meet both my friends xie ju and men yun qing
please tell them of my desire to once again discuss poetry with them

murphy still able to pull strings in the old boy’s network

von zach XIV,26




from my wretched hut in the yang zi gorges i respectfully dedicate these verse to my fourth uncle on my maternal side (the censor) as he leaves for li zhou and zhang zhou

the sun of autumn sinks behind kui zhou on the shore of the yang zi
silence reigns, even the mountain goblins remain quiet in their dens
my uncle has interrupted his trip to stay here for a few days
he has chosen to visit this old man in his miserable hut

the world continues to be disturbed by the rebellious insurgents
and those who could help me in my plight are unable to do so
please inform the people of the peach blossom spring in lang zhou
that i continue to lead the fabled life of the hermits in qin times

murphy making the best out of a broken play in the fourth quarter of a tie game

von zach XIV,27





have you not seen  (verses i send to su xi instead of a letter)

have you not seen the parasol tree on the shore of the desolate pond
have you not seen the chestnut tree with its many broken limbs
it is true that the wood from a tree dead for a hundred years
can still be carved into a marvelous flute with a beautiful sound

but in an old water puddle next to that desolate pond
a wise young dragon may yet be hidden within its mud
only if the coffin of a man is finally closed
can one say that his work in this world is truly at an end

you fortunately are not an old shell of a man like me
and have the strength and wisdom to serve the emperor well
how piteous it is that despite your abilities and desires
you atrophy within the loneliness of your mountain retreat

you should resist the temptation to remain in your isolation
and come out of through the deep valleys of your desolate mountains
up there you will find nothing to extend and flesh out your being
nothing but thunderclaps, demons, and the wildness of storms

murphy forced to give advice from the sidelines aching to get into the fray

von zach XIV,28




i dedicate these verses to su xi, fourth of his clan

earlier while walking together near the district of foreigners
we said we are both tired of being thistledown blown by the winds
it is the first time we have seen each other for five long years
and we are still forced to wander about without surcease

the riots of war are hopefully winding down to their end
and the imperial coach has again returned to the capital
i am forced to consider my destiny as i am approaching my end
why i ask are talented men of your caliber without a steady position

earlier i was given the responsibility of an official position
but i lost that post and have been afflicted since by lingering illness
and why is your face so dark and careworn when turned to mine
how can you expect me to show my happiness at seeing you again

the land of si chuan is continually perturbed by the raids of the insurgents
the citizens are reduced to acting as silly geese in order to survive
though the lands of yu and xi have been afforded a time of rest
the use of the curved bow and arrow still rules in si chuan

now you have left there and have come here to the yang zi gorges
this could be compared to how once ma rong brought his ethics to the east
although the world is large and affords many opportunities
everywhere i go i cannot find a living and remain very poor

everywhere the meat eaters despise the poor vegetarians
and the strong young people push aside all older men
this is all the more so when a man is a guest in an alien country
there one is always pushed aside by the local men of the land

now you will travel from here to jing zhou and yang zhou
you are a lonely sailor much like a lonesome wild goose
both these districts are richly served by many brave men
there the people and horses are proud and daring

yet i would ask you to also pay attention to the poor and the downtrodden
they are hungry and cold and would benefit from your wisdom and strength

murphy the monday morning armchair quarterback par excellence

von zach XIV,29




i take leave of su xi who proceeds to the headquarters in ho nan

your father, my old friend, has a wanderer for a son
who stayed in the desolation of si chuan among the abandoned people
early on i fully expected your skills and dexterity would bring success
but unfortunately all of your plans have gone for nought

for ten long years you have not soared high on your wings
if i did not have admiration for you i would have castigated your failures
because of my heavy affliction by diabetes i have been unable to help you
this has brought much shame to this decrepit old man

who would predict the commanding general in ho nan would send for you
but he once served with your father and myself and needs a young phoenix
for the phoenix finds its food by flying around pale bamboo
and finds its branch to sit upon within broad chestnut trees

the lodestar of the emperor’s position controls the whole world
he has sent the general to ho nan to the center of the yang zi and the lakes
the empire is darkened by the smoke and dust of the rioting
in ho nan one needs new conscripts to be trained for the war effort

you will advise the general concerning his duties in ho nan
hopefully the outcome of his efforts will reflect well on his headquarters
in parting i give you a ceremonial whip like once did rao zhao
but caution you to use it lightly and never on young colts newly harnessed

murphy chary with his advice to the younger generation

von zach XIV,30




wanderings of my youth

as a young man of barely fourteen i felt ready
and stepped out onto the battlefield of brush and ink
the learned confucianists cui shang and wei qi and others
compared me to the authors ban gu and yang xiong

even when i was seven i was already concerned with heroic deeds
my first verses were praiseful songs for the fabled phoenix
by nine i was able to form large characters of beauty
and my poetry stacked high enough to fill a bag

i was from the first wild in my temperament and showed a love of wine
i hated all that was bad and my heart was filled with sincerity
i didn’t care to mingle as friends with my contemporaries
but rather chose to associate only with experienced gray-beards

mellowed by wine i was carefree, even reckless in my outlook
and all the common people were to me only a blurred background buzz
that was when i moved to the city of su zhou, and then further east
i was beginning to prepare for an extended sea voyage

to this day i reproach myself for not continuing this adventure
my plans were to visit the fabled islands of far off japan
in su zhou the memories of wang dao and xie an lay in the distant past
even the grave-mound of prince he lu had become neglected

yet the encircling wall around sword lake still protruded its odd skew angle
and the lotus blossoms of chang-zhou park still spread their fragrance
north of the chang gate a memorial temple stood imposingly on a hill
the famous forefather temple of wu tai bo was reflected in the lake below

i often came to to pay my respect to this honorable man
thinking of his refusal of the throne often brought me to tears
i thought of gou-jian ever alert sleeping on his lance
and the indomitable first emperor of qin coming south and crossing the zhe

i heard how the assassin zhuan zhu hid his dagger in a large boiled fish
and of the belt seal of zhu mai chen which so impressed the lesser officials
i remember the girls of yue zhou being the fairest in the world
and how the wind over the reflecting lake felt chilly into the fifth month

the beauty of the yan gorge never failed to delight with its charms
even when i had to end my visit the beauty of the region stayed with me
i returned to the north on a boat which passed by the tian mu mountains
i was in the prime of my early life and prepared to take the examinations

in my pride i thought i was far stronger than qu yuan and jia yi
and felt i had a slight advantage over cao zhi and liu zheng
but despite my expectations i was failed by the bureau of examinations
and left the headquarters of the governor accompanied by no one

i wandered slowly through the lands of chi and zhao
dressed in a fur coat and riding a fine horse
in the spring i sang songs on the cong balcony
and in the winter i went hunting with ching qiu in shan dung

i hunted with falcons in the woods of zao li
and pursued game in the hills of yun xue
i shot at flying birds having let free the horse’s reins
pulling back the curve of the bow the crane was already falling

when count su yuan ming saw this he rose in his saddle and smiled
it seemed to him he was in the presence of another go qiang
i spent eight or nine years indulging these amusements
but then i finally decided to return to chang an

there my friends praised me as a master of literature
i was invited on extravagant excursions by the worthy prince li jin
my careful steps led me up into the banquets of this worthy man
he gave me the chance to offer poetic descriptions to the imperial palace

the emperor was kind enough to send for me
numerous dignitaries assembled to hear my work
i left them with no further thought of position or salary
i indulged heavily in wine and was indifferent to their response

my fortunes plummeted and my sable coat became ragged with wear
my hair turned white and i kept toasting others with a wine cup in my hand
my old village of du ling lost all the elders i had known
all around were their graves surrounded by white weeping willows

the longer i remained the more honored i became as an elder
i began to mourn the swift passage of my time on earth
this was when the rich and powerful murdered and plundered
but in the end they and their families met their just ends

the imperial studs ate all the grain collected as taxes
imperial cockfights used the rice and millet meant for the people
these are merely example of the pointless squandering of resources
the lessons of history were ignored and waste led to decline

then came the storm of war in the north of huang he
and the emperor xuan zong was forced to move to si chuan
there then arose two courts with separate imperial guards
their affection for each other was evident across their vast separation

the emperor su zong gathered brave troops in the area of ping liang
the flags of the young emperor became brown from the dust of the desert
at once xuan zong handed over the government to su zong
who moved personally against the armies of an lu shan

the imperial banners were concentrated in the wu mountains
and fighting like dragons and tigers they defeated the rebels there
but when the imperial troops faltered only a bit
the rebels were invigorated and attacked once more

the imperial army became hard-pressed and pinned down
the misery of the common people became more and more desperate
i tried to help as a supernumerary official for the emperor
i was filled with indignation at the destruction and the plight of the people

at that time i knelt on the green mat before the emperor himself
and spoke urgently to him about my anxieties
the burning of the nine forefather temples, the plight of common people
and the emperor became angry and dismissed me

even then the emperor was the embodiment of benevolence and sagacity
and shortly afterward the empire regained a measure of peace
i participated in the lamentation for the ashes of the imperial temples
all the officials shared the misery in the wei yang palace

then i was finally dismissed and my advice was no longer wanted
old and ill i proceeded to wander in distant areas
i shared my sadness with the poor wounded birds
whose wings were broken and could no longer fly

the autumn winds rushed through my desolate valleys
and for me the green herbs began to lose their smell
i looked for no rewards for having retired into exile
and lived like a hermit beside the river in a hut

even the fullness of an earned glory cannot last
at the end of the year the bitter frost nips all who live
i now believe fan-li is our greatest hope for success
and i trust he will finally succeed in supressing the rebellion

murphy careful in the selection of anecdote from his vast memory bank

von zach XIV,31




 the fortress at bo di cheng

above the city of kui zhou is a fortress whose gates issue clouds
below this edifice torrents of rain rush to engorge the yang zi
it rushes high and swollen between the steep gorges
the noise it makes is that of angry thunderclaps

behind the old trees and the entwining green vines
the fog dims both the sun and the moon with its murk
horses which are ridden out to battle in far fields
do not show the same fire as when they turn toward home

now from a thousand families only a hundred are left
the miserable widows left alone to be squeezed by high taxes
in all the surrounding villages in this gloomy time of autumn
one hears only moans and loud lamentations

murphy empathetic and surrounded by suffering

von zach XIV,32






the countless trees run up into the lowering clouds
the rain persists through the surrounding mountains
the gate is closed but swings open with these winds
water birds fly past, then circle back again

the rushing of the rain reminds me of the noisy looms of the sea nymphs
or possibly lumberjacks chopping up the wet wood of their boats
the air is chill and has blown away the hot, toxic miasma
oh, to stand on the balcony of the fortress above the rain, to see the view

murphy inordinately affected by the dank, clammy weather

von zach XIV,33





fair weather after the rain

when the mountain begins to reappear after the rain it is still unchanged
only after the weather is again perfect can one see the fresh washed gorges
here at the end of the world i see nothing else but foreign ways
and the sight of the autumnal stream brings a crushing melancholy

the many apes keep up their endless cries which sadden me
and i have no faithful dog to carry my messages as once did lu zhi
my sad eyes turn inward to envision my old home country
i sing slow sad songs to myself and indulge my continuing depression

murphy picking the scab of an itching wound

von zach XIV,34





my hair is almost completely white

my hair is almost as white as that of feng tang in the han dynasty
in the clarity of autumn i am saddened as was once song yu
i am perpetually kept from sleeping by the rushing water of the river
so i spend a great deal of my time pacing on the high tower

how can i, this broken old man, possibly help the empire in its need
being so far away from home merely intensifies my weakness and ill health
i would like to drink deeply to a drunkenness of a thousand days
but that might lead to maudlin verses like some drunken poets of the past

murphy carefully rationing the best of his sake‘

von zach XIV,35





in the women’s room of the palace

in the women’s room of the palace the gems of the girdle sashes are still
yang gui fei is dead and the sad autumn wind rises over the desolate jade
now in chang an the new moon rises still where once she watched
and the dragon pond remains as full as when the emperor struggled

but now my boat is anchored far away from my beloved capital
and i can’t hear the pure hourly sounds i once heard from my office
countless miles north of here is the garden of the huang shan palace
there the grave of the emperor lies overcast and frosted with rime

murphy in the melancholy throes of memory

von zach XIV,36






once the imperial procession could be seen leaving the peng lai palace
they often passed through the green east gate of the capital chang an
marvelous, brilliant flowers were planted at the base of the trees
even dragons in the still pond were pleased by the nature of the departure

at sundown the emperor yang gui fei would stop his entourage
while a light breeze sprang up he would embrace the sisters chin and guo
but i, having no real connection to such affairs,
only know a few things about the mysterious joys of the court

murphy filling in the blanks about the life of the hollywood stars

von zach XIV,37





an excellent painter

mao yan zhou was an excellent painter
and the chamberlain guo was an excellent archer
both were applauded loudly by the emperor
who bestowed his mercy as does the coming of spring

the imperial government flowed as a quiet stream
the imperial justice was shown through the examinations
competitions were regularly organized for everyone’s amusement
and yet annoying riots and uprisings arose in the background

murphy reading tea leaves to get ahead of the curve

von zach XIV,38




cock fighting

under emperor tang-ming-huang gamecocks were first dressed in brocade
that was a time when horses were trained to mount board scaffolding
harem ladies appeared behind screens and sang their special songs
they were famous for chin zheng lou written by the emperor

yet everything came to a sad end at the time of the emperor’s death
from that time on the perfume of the singers was no longer enjoyed
the road from the hua qing palace to the li shan mountains was abandoned
and now chill autumn yellows the vegetation all along the way

murphy hearing about the big party he missed over the weekend

von zach XIV,39





many and diverse the joys

many and diverse the joys of the kai yuan period
they stood before our eyes clearly and distinctly
yet without a warning the rebellion began
and since then much time has passed us by

the wu gulch where i now find myself is in the upper yang zi gorges
far from chang an it is near the northern bushel of the zodiac
my hair has become white whie serving as a ministerial secretary
and now i find myself tied up with illness and restricted to bed

murphy succumbing to the melancholy of a fading physicality

von zach XIV,40





lo yang

once the capital at lo yang fell into the hands of an lu shan
the tatar cavalry immediately attacked the fortress at the tung guan pass
then the emperor was overwhelmed with anguished thoughts
when he fled to si chuan the people of chang an were thrown into despair

later after the tatars retreated from chang an blowing their trumpets
the emperor came back to the capital from his palace in the mountains
the old people rejoiced and were suffused with happiness
to once more have the emperor be seen amongst the populace

murphy enjoying the ride on the teeter-totter with his grandchild

von zach XIV,41





the pleasure palace on li shan mountain

the pleasure palace on li shan mountain no longer awaits the emperor
the hua e tower is no longer used for gay festivities
the emperor is dead and buried and holds morning audience no more
but among the people the gold he has given away can still be found

the dragons left behind in this world by the emperor have gone into hiding
golden geese now swim in the mercury pond all around his grave
the sun which shone so long on his peng lai palace
appears now over his grave protected by the yu lin guard

murphy on a fifth year pilgrimage to his father’s grave

von zach XIV,42





the lands of the fief princes

the numerous lands of the fief princes ranked within the dynasty
have all remained loyal to the reigning emperor
yet i would like to ask if the people might be governed sparely with virtue
and the troops be used to defend more the threatened points

those now under the new emperor must call competent men to the court
and follow their advice, then you need not fear incursions of the barbarians
i wish you would be as careful with weapons as one should be with fire
then you would let extensive mercy come down to nurture the people

murphy remembering how it was to go hungry as a child

von zach XIV,43





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