murphy’s du fu von zach XIX

XIX, 1 i travel by boat from jiang ling to gong-an on the southern shore of the yang zi. respectfully i send this verse to underprefect zheng shen.
XIX, 2 i spend the night at a roadside inn in the mountains on my way to gong an
XIX, 3 i sit in the state pavilion and write this jesting poem for sub-district judge yan of gong an
XIX, 4 in a drunken state i sing this song to sub-district judge yan of gong an, and ask the calligrapher gu to write it on the wall
XIX, 5 i move from jiang ling to gong an xian, respectfully dedicated to chamberlain wei zhun
XIX, 6 in gong-an i escort sub-district judge wei, second of his clan as he leaves
XIX, 7 dedicated to police officer yu, fifteenth of his clan
XIX, 8 in gong an xian i think of ancient times
XIX, 9 the vulture snapping at the air
XIX, 10 in gong an xian i give this poem to my young friend li-jin-su, 29th of his clan
XIX, 11 the north wind
XIX, 12 remembrance of the past
XIX, 13 i escort the officers of the crown prince and the calligrapher gu jie she as they leave for hong zhou and ji zhou
XIX, 14 i send this poem back to the priest tai yi as i depart
XIX, 15 i leave gong an at daybreak
XIX, 16 a song at the end of the year
XIX, 17 i leave liu lang pu
XIX, 18 dong ting leaves for deng zhou
XIX, 19 life as a hermit
XIX, 20 i anchor in the town of yo yang
XIX, 21 because of the strong wind my boat remains tied up.  i respectfully send a joke-poem to judge zheng, 13th of his clan
XIX, 22 i climb the tower at yo zhou to look out over dong ting lake
XIX, 23 i respectfully escort my old friend, sub-district judge wei yo, as he leaves for jiao guang
XIX, 24 at the end of winter i give this poem to gentleman-in-waiting qian zhang sun as he returns to his house
XIX, 25 in the company of imperial commissioner pei i climb to the tower of yo zhou
XIX, 26 i escort my cousin judge wan li as he leaves to go to nan-hai in guang dong
XIX, 27 to visit the giant southern mountain i travel on dong ting lake
XIX, 28 i stay overnight in my boat on the qing cao lake
XIX, 29 i spend the night on my boat beside the postal station at white sands
XIX, 30 on my journey up stream i express my feelings
XIX, 31 the memorial temple for the two wives of emperor shun
XIX, 32 the evening view on the south side of the memorial temple at evening
XIX, 33 i describe what i see
XIX, 34 finding a bit of peace at the end of my dangerous boat trip
XIX, 35 staying the night in cuo shi pu
XIX, 36 i depart early in the morning
XIX, 37 i come to the jin kou ferry crossing
XIX, 38 i come to kong ling gorge
XIX, 39 i stay overnight in the hua shi fort
XIX, 40 i set off early in the morning
XIX, 41 i come to the island of wan zhou
XIX, 42 i leave the moldy rocks of bo ma tan
XIX, 43 returning geese
XIX, 44 looking out over the landscape
XIX, 45 i come to qiao kou zhen
XIX, 46 i seek shelter from a storm in the bay at tong guan mountain
XIX, 47 north wind
XIX, 48 my feelings (1 of 2)
XIX, 49 my feelings (2 of 2)
XIX, 50 looking up at the giant mountain heng shan
XIX, 51 festival day (1 of 2)
XIX, 52 festival day (2 of 2)
XIX, 53 a guest from the south
XIX, 54 i leave tan zhou
XIX, 55 shuang feng pu, the landing place by the two maple trees
XIX, 56 i send a poem in reciprocation to judge guo shou, fifteenth of his clan
XIX, 57 in heng zhou i escort my old friend head censor li mian as he leaves for canton
XIX, 58 i wish to leave heng zhou and return to xiang yang
XIX, 59 on the xiang river a farewell feast is given the censor pei as he leaves for dao zhou
XIX, 60 respectfully i give this poem to wang qin, prefect of ying zhou, as he returns to the north
XIX, 61 i mourn the death of chief censor wei zhi jin
XIX, 62 sick in the tower in a riverside apartment at chang sha, i send these verses to censors cui and lu
XIX, 63 in chang sha i give this poem to ministerial secretary wei tiao as he leaves for shao zhou
XIX, 64 i answer a poem that prefect wei tiao has sent
XIX, 65 up in the tower





i travel by boat from jiang ling to gong an on the southern shore of the yang zi. respectfully i send this verse to underprefect zheng shen.

where shall i go when i set out to leave the shores of jiang ling
i have nothing left but a dubious faith in this wobbly old boat
my body has always been an encumbrance like a clod of earth
recently i have rowed around exploring the river and the lakes

the country is shackled and in the hands of sinister forces
armed unrest still follows me, now only an old wizened scholar
my entire life i have been nothing but a discarded object
everywhere i have traveled i have found only misery

the rain has washed clean the sandy shore
the river winds away into the hills to join the sky
a cicada sings from its floating piece of wood
a swallow flies south from out the river plants

i was only able to stay in jiang ling for a while
finding no peace i force myself to travel into the distance
i have found no one here who is willing to help me
though i offered my services to all who would listen

the sea of china is in turmoil from churning flukes of whales
so now this flying wild goose flees south to hu nan
there i seek to find a friend as once chen fan sought xu zhi
or i might go east as once did confucius in despair

in vain have i hoped to be of use as was ning-qi for duke huan
and i always feared the fate of the sobbing bien he who was not believed
on my trip i remember how zheng zhuang offered horses for his guests
and i ask that you consider helping me in my desolation

murphy grasping at proverbial straws

von zach XIX,1





i spend the night at a roadside inn in the mountains on my way to gong an

there are many fogs during the day here in the southern regions
a north wind now blows and brings with it cold weather
i wander between mountain peaks on a narrow mountain trail
far away from other people i am next to the clouds

later my lamp flickers from the breath of the mountain goblins
my servants talk with the guest-house chef deep into the night
at cockcrow i wake to wonder where my next guest house will be
and whether i will ever find a place where i enjoy a lasting peace

murphy always betting on a better day ahead

von zach XIX,2





i sit in the state pavilion and write this jesting poem for sub-district judge yan of gong an

now in the cold season the clopping sounds of washing paddles are pleasing
it is evening and the sun is sinking behind the upper regions of the yang zi
my sadness of being in a foregin land is deepened by the sound of crickets
around this old state pavilion the river reeds grow thick and high

i sit here in vain through this night with only my candlelight for companionship
you have not come back on your horse decorated so nicely with blue embroidery
i am only an old man who waits for you, one of the jusges of the district
i had hoped to to help you drink slowly the “liquid sunrise” wine you fetch

murphy lacking only friends and wine to make a party

von zach XIX,3





in a drunken state i sing this song to sub-district judge yan of gong an, and ask the calligrapher gu to write it on the wall

it is not easy to find a man who can become an immortal like a second mei fu
but the talent of this offspring of the yan family is truly extraordinary
he is like an eager sky horse whinnying as he awaits his rider, the emperor
he is like an autumn hawk spreading his wings high in the clouds of heaven

does he know of the calligrapher gu jie she who comes from east-wu
has he not heard of the old man du fu from du ling in shen si
the poem of this old person and the strokes of that calligrapher will please him
a verse is painted now in gu’s strokes on the wall of his entrance hall

on this day the seven lakes of chu are frozen by an icy wind
the sun setting in the barbarian lands to the west reddens the town wall
i am drunk from the wine, my ears are red, and my white hair is tousled
i am stirred by the warm hospitality and wish to give an appropriate gift

therefore i have improvised this poem for the host and his guests to sing

murphy not needing a lampshade to be the life of the party

von zach XIX,4





i move from jiang ling to gong an xian, respectfully dedicated to chamberlain wei zhun

it is a high honor to meet a man like chamberlain wei
especially since he shows sympathy for my illness
his heart is warm and his feelings generous
he reaches out a welcoming hand to all he sees

all my life i have held him in the highest esteem
since my youth i have admired his elegant verse
we have always shared values which commingle
like the huang-he flowing to the sea or clouds sharing the sky

now my body is battered and i have quickly aged
i have withdrawn my guileless being from the affairs at court
hermits always complain the emperor does not recognize their abilities
brave men grieve over having yet to achieve lasting success

river fogs permeate throughout your garden paths
the autumn dew moistens the hollyhocks thriving there
i have come to gong an to escape the fighting with the rebels
i am a wounded bird hungry and desparate to escape

in spite of my white hair i am a fit guest for your banquets
i have brought nothing with me but my wit and black leather chair
in the past i have been disappointed in hospitality i have been offered
but this morning i feel refreshed and strengthened by your friendly welcome

murphy throwing himself onto the kindness of strangers

von zach XIX,5





in gong an i escort sub-district judge wei, second of his clan as he leaves

many descendants of wei jiang have achieved success
i attend one now to the moored boat as the banquet comes to an end
i trust you will remember me with a few of your poems
those i have given you should be held close and not broadcast

one can never be too careful in times of ongoing struggle
i am living my waning days here in the land of rivers and lakes
since ancient times men have always shed tears at partings
this personal rain is recognition of how alone we stand in the storms of life

murphy maintaining the courtesies expected

von zach XIX,6





dedicated to police officer yu, fifteenth of his clan

i have long revered the deceased minister yu shan nan as a model
and now i have the pleasure of making his grandson’s acquaintance
your facial features are similar to the portraits of your ancestors
the glory of your family shines forth in your vigorous appearance

i grieve in remembrance of the beautiful calligraphy of your ancestors
and i look forward to your sharing your wisdom with me
your cheerful nature is the clear wide sky of an autumn day
your conversations are sprinkled with shimmering beads of fresh dew

you are like the phoenix nesting in the giant southern mountains, singing
you are like the kun fish of the north sea transforming itself into the bird rock
and i know how much we can never learn about those we hold as our friends
but we two share a deep understanding of our confucian philosophies

you always welcome me as family when i have occasion to be your guest
we share fragrant wine throughout the days and nights of entertainments
the leaves of the trees sough in the winds from the sandy shore
the clouds above are parting as the moon shines into your windows

i regret that the major part of my life is now behind me
yet i clearly see the happiness of the other guests around me
in gratitude i would like to give you all the books i possess
but sadly many dark mountains separate me from them back in my homeland

murphy relegated to only an occasional vicarious happiness

von zach XIX,7





in gong an xian i think of ancient times

here in this vast wilderness lu meng once had a warehouse
here on the banks of the deep stream by the ancient fortress of liu bei
in this winter weather the sun sinks quickly to begin the long night
the wind lashes the waves and the spray rises to the clouds

how natural was the harmony achieved by liu bei and his minister zhu ge liang
how impressively high spread the fame of the always victorious lu meng
i moor my boat here on the southern shore of the great yang zi
i chant a drawn out song of grief replete with my historical memories

murphy carrying an immense load of pertinent experience

von zach XIX,8





the vulture snapping at the air

this ailing vulture finds himself quite alone
shunned by the more fit animals, despised
he sleeps in a hollow willow through the night
in the chill autumn at sundown his body is stooped

the geese flying by turn their eyes away in fear
even the ravens will not allow themselves to see
the vulture’s martial mien is no longer there
his alertness of mind has quite disappeared

his wing feathers are loose and disheveled
his energy nothing compared to the white tailed eagle
this is the bird whose power and energy
far exceeded that of the hunting blue falcon

now it is autumn the winds kick up choppy waves
in the cold darkness loom the solid mountains
bears and their kin now seek their winter sleep
dragons and snakes hide in their deep holes

i believe the vulture if not so sick would prevail
this winter would be a lean but vigorous time
but he has lost his voice and his strength
his blood oozes, taking with it his vital breath

murphy disgruntled by the loss of his long vanished youth

von zach XIX,9





in gong an xian i give this poem to my young friend li jin su, 29th of his clan

now when i am contemplating going on to giu giang
i find you here traveling down river to si chuan
our two ships move in opposite directions
as a crowd of wild geese fly by from across the northern border

i drive south on the han river toward the bronze border pillars
you drive onto the western upper reaches of the yang zi to cheng du fu
i give you now a hundred coins of copper and ask a favor
seek out a wise man there and ask where i will end up on my journey

murphy clutching at a soothsayer’s straws of certitude

von zach XIX,10





the north wind

he north wind visits unkindly here in the south
the red phoenix of the dynasty continues to lose its prestige
in the fall the snow falls on dong ting lake
the storks and wild geese know not where to turn

for ten years the orgiastic murders have continued
and the population has decreased throughout the land
i am favorably reminded of the four white-heads of the han dynasty
in seclusion they ate the miracle mushrooms even in the quieter times

murphy making up sories that fit his situation

von zach XIX,11





remembrance of the past

i remember when i once visited the xiao you caves
they are to be found in the wang wu mountains
while there i crossed the stormy waves of the mighty huang he
luck was with me for i had only a flimsy boat to use

there, in spite of all my valiant efforts
i did not find the immortal hua gai jun
the green tip of land where he had lived
was uninhabited and had fallen into ruin

the thousand crags were worn and desolate
the many valleys and gulches were abandoned
every three steps i climbed i looked all around
after five i had to sit for a while to rest and think

these autumnal mountains disappointed my eyes
there was no evidence there of the immortal’s spirit
i knew i was not to be able to meet the venerable sage
i sat while twin rivers flowed over my cheeks

i wondered if perhaps one of his pupils was still there
the delapidated reed huts might still afford shelter
an old man of lu was still there with the key
he opened the gates of the rusted castle

with a cloth he brushed the top of the table
he collected the fragrant residue of the crushed medicines
he swept the steps of the ashes from the sacred fire
that which was used to prepare the elixir of life

how can i go to look for him now where he resides in kun lun
it is much too difficult to travel there to the islands of the blessed
though i can imagine seeing the horse tails on his golden cane
and his garments of feathers fluttering gracefully in the wind

as the sun rises first in the east and sets in the west
traveling all this distance in but a single day
so too he is first in the east and soon in the west
because nothing is impossible for him to achieve

here among the wind whipped spruce trees
where the mountain torrents mingle in the gorges
i hear the bellowing of water buffalo
mingled with the roaring of the great brown bear

i can only search for remnants, traces the immortal left behind
i find myself looking out before me and sighing loudly
i must face up to the fact that my most sincere desire
that of meeting this immortal, is to be unfulfilled

i will be unable to be shown his mystic writings of apprenticeship
my dreams of enlightenment must be put on hold
but also i face up to my lack of monies to pursue my dreams
how can i continue to support such an effort in my sickly old age

yet i determine to turn toward heng yang to seek further
there i might be able to visit the immortal dong zhing
despite all i will point my boat south to continue this journey
i will travel there on the rivers xiao and xiang

murphy still mystical despite his scientific training, and proud of it

von zach XIX,12





i escort the officers of the crown prince and the calligrapher gu jie she as they leave for hong zhou and ji zhou

after cai yong inscribed the six classics on stone in the ba fen script
the ba fen writing became somewhat neglected by calligraphers
but then the calligrapher gu jie she appeared with his talented brush
he breathed new life and brought the style to new completion

then came the government period kai-yuan and its rebirth
han ze mu and cai you lin together with gu brought great beauty to the ba fen style
because the emperor tang ming huang loved this writing so much
he summoned these three men to become members of his court

as the imperial decrees became written in this script it became wide spread
it became evident that these three men had immense talents
the three worked together in the imperial court
and the same imperial mercy was shown to each

it was gui jie she who wrote in more than just the pa fen style
he paid much attention to perfecting the xiao chuan mode
on different days he visited individual princes to show his art
each example was outstanding and held a powerful mystery as its power

when gu and i were wandering about together as friends
he showed not the slightest interest in gaining fame or profit
for twenty years we delighted in each other’s company
and countless times we drunkenly roamed the streets of chang an

we sang in loud voices as guests of high dignitaries and ministers
our literary efforts were offered throughout the administrative bodies
he thought my style similar to yang xiong and si ma xiang ru
and vowed not to abandon me as a friend throughout our lives

when he came to visit me in my dilapidated alley on his proud horse
he removed the golden bridle work to save me embarrassment
remembering how deeply he felt friendship then
how could i dare to forget him in our old age

yet since the oldest time change is a constant in human relations
and i again weep tears for the returning hurt of a new parting
and i reflect on how few of those who once flaunted golden bridles
are now still occupying positions of high esteem

my skills have certainly declined as has my thin body
because of my diabetes i have been an imperfect official
but you, my old friend, have remained steadfast
you continue to help the nation in this our time of great troubles

i have resigned myself to old age and the ravages of disease
while you still have the ambition to assist the emperor better the world
but you seem to be concerned with clothing needs and food
your face seldom shows the glow of ease and satisfaction

now you are embarked on a difficult trip to distant areas
and in so doing you follow the wish of your extended family
but don’t forget that your boat is old and decidedly unsafe
that dragons lurk in anticipation of any disaster you might suffer

there are also pirates who roam the rivers in these dark times
and the heavens will often visit terrible and unexpected storms
it seems that in these war torn period bad news comes often
many are the reports of officials being murdered as they serve

now you are going east to visit the governors of hong zhou and zhi zhou
you must caution them not to be arbitrary in their decisions
without a prosperous people as foundation the empire is hollow
and hungry fish will be the first to take a tasty bait

i implore you to communicate to the officials to have compassion
that to ameliorate the deep wounds of the country will take time
moreover they must be careful in the election of new officials
only after a record of solid achievement should anyone be recommended

and remember there is a profound difference between good and bad officials
the good collect a fair share of taxes, the bad suck the marrow from the people
a patriot detests taking more than what he properly deserves
a hero takes pride in using only legitimate strengths to achieve his purpose

i dedicate these lines to you in the manner of the poem of lu zhi to the wild tiger
i accompany you to the outskirts of town and my tears flow freely

murphy sick and bedraggled, but with his head and his heart still in the game

von zach XIX,13





i send this poem back to the priest tai yi as i depart

i have now the desire to visit lu mountain
to make a life as a hermit as once did hui yuan
here in gong an i have met a marvelous priest
who writes poetry the equal of the priest tang hui xiu

he has visited me on my boat numerous times
and he has always left behind his admirable verse
now when i open my suitcase of books
i find his work which inspires me to emulation

i look out on the white sandy shore of the village
and marvel that it is as if the snow had never thawed
the red plum blossoms have just come into bloom
this is the always welcome time when spring returns

i plan to reach the incense kettle point of lu mountain
i will build a hermitage for us both and await his arrival
i see him coming slowly walking with his cane
he will leave the dusty world behind and fly to my side

murphy persistent in his pursuit of nirvana

von zach XIX,14





i leave gong an at daybreak

the clatter of the nightwatchman on the northern wall has stopped
the morning star has risen in the east and it will soon be light
the roosters will crow in the city as they do every morning
though the ephemeral beauties of spring will change again as always

now my boat begins its final journey into the unknown
i am headed deeper into the region of rivers and lakes with no set goal
the separation lasts for only a few moments and gong-an-xian is now behind me
i take my medicines and they are all that i have to sustain myself

murphy finally letting the current take him where it will

von zach XIX,15





a song at the end of the year

this year approaches its end with an encroaching cold
the north wind blows unwelcome and with pause
the area around the xiao and xiang rivers enters winter
they and the dong ting lake are surrounded by deep snow

the nets of the fisherman have become useless
they freeze solid on the boats in the bitter winds
the mo yao barbarians bend their mulberry bows
but it is only in vain attempts to shoot wild geese

the rice crop last year was short and thus expensive
the troops grew lean with inadequate scant rations
this year the rice has become somewhat cheaper
but all still suffer from deprivations

the ranking officials ride, comfortable on their strong horses
they feed gluttonously on fat meat and much wine
the looms of the farmers are covered in dust
their owners sitting idle in their reed covered huts

the inhabitants of the land of chu eat fish and eschew birds
but this doesn’t stop the mo yao from shooting at the geese
people have grown so hungry they sell anything of value for food
i have even heard of many selling their girls, even their boys

the parents overcome their love in order to pay their taxes
and thus to free themselves from forced public labor
in earlier times there were strict rules for the economy
it was strictly forbidden to adulterate coinage in any way

now permission is given to add base metals, lead and tin
no longer is it possible to find coins of real copper
anyone can make clay molds for making new coins
it is very easy for all to make false monies

but it does no one good to deceive the public in this way
flooding the market with bad money hurts everyone
the trumpets of war sound from the walls of all the empire’s towns
when will these melancholy melodies finally be brought to an end

murphy vainly wishing to meddle in the affairs of state

von zach XIX,16





i leave liu lang pu

i hoist the sail and leave liu lang pu early in the morning
a sharp wind blows and dark clouds dim midday
these days one meets no other boats on the waters
in the empty villages by the river one hears wolves and tigers

for ten days the north wind has blown its cold fury
traveling at the end of the year is a misery
my old white head is not up to this fisherman’s life
i wish my bamboo hat and sandals were back in my native country

murphy futilely pressing ever onward

von zach XIX,17





dong ting leaves for deng zhou

at the end of winter the wind-whipped waves roar past
it is almost impossible to raise the sails above the waters
because the scholars here cannot find enough food for an elder
he now leaves his berth and as a pious son ignores the cold

he will go search for his paradise further south
heading toward deng zhou, a lesser capital in he nan
as he leaves he takes his ideas with his oars
i feel great compassion for him with his thin clothes in this cold

i have long known of the loyalty of the prefect zhao of deng zhou
he is also known for his hospitality in this time of troubles
your mother already waits for you there in the town
she must not keep waiting for you until the snow has melted

as i stand here the mooring rope is being released
and i think ahead to my uneaten breakfast of rice
in this time of war, rioting and turmoil
when will my heart find a safe place to rest

the region of han yang is now calm and at peace
so i will remain in loneliness here in the xian mountains
when you remember me in the future with my white cap of a hermit
know that i will be picking ferns high at the edge of the clouds

murphy shedding the skins of all his friends

von zach XIX,18





life as a hermit

a lonely cloud looks out again on a lonely cloud
miraculous beings know when they should appear
the phoenix stays in the highest reaches of heaven
and is therefore almost never to be seen by mortal men

before i had thought to meet with hui yuan and xu xun
in the solitude of the isle of the immortals, when i was fifty
i cannot question the high heavens where they now are
they have discarded me and disappeared like any lost object

in my heart i must question whether i am capable of the solitary life
for if so i must have been found by them to be their inferior
meanwhile they are entertaining themselves beyond the world sea
having been rowed over the blustering waves to the isle of the immortals

the sun climbs high in the east, beyond the fu sang tree
and shines also on the coral trees in that blessed place
those here sit under the canopy of their sail boat
and hold to the thought of the east as the evening approaches

i try to live on my own saliva in hopes of attaining wisdom
those secrets of the mind world which feed on clouds in the red of morning
but because of my striving for position in this world
i am unsuitable for a life with the four wise men of shang mountain

the dong ting lake extends before me to vanish on the horizon
while i grieve in my old age that i may not follow those hermits

murphy counting lost opportunities which will never return

von zach XIX,19





i anchor in the town of yo yang

the great river yang zi stretches over a thousand miles
the city of yo yang lies high up river in the surrounding mountains
the onshore breeze of evening builds up the waves
on the boat the falling snow moistens my feeble lamp

despite all my problems as i travel my talent is still with me
the difficulties i encounter merely stiffen my resolve
one can never know when a big success may come
when i might depart past the bird rock and fly to the south

murphy still able to dream

von zach XIX,20





because of the strong wind my boat remains tied up. i respectfully send a joke-poem to judge zheng, 13th of his clan

the north wind blew fiercely on the shores of chu
the black cranes screamed their displeasure down by the water
the wind-blown sand covered the vegetaion along the shore
snowflakes danced in the storm lashing the stream and the lakes

the wind took my hat again and again, so i tied up here
it has been a few days without let-up and i am lonely
i humbly request you send a post horse here for me
then we can find a wine bar together for a few drinks

murphy finding a party where one least expects it

von zach XIX,21





i climb the tower at yo zhou to look out over dong ting lake

earlier i had only heard about the great lake of dong ting
so i climbed the tower at yo zhou to see it for the first time
the lake lies to the south of wu and to the east of chu
the winds of heaven stir its waters into choppy waves both day and night

i have not heard from my friends and relatives for a long time
the only companionship for this old sick man is his crew
north of the passes of shen si the war still rages on
far from home i stand on the balustrade and weep bitter tears

murphy seeing his latter days slowly slip away

von zach XIX,22





i respectfully escort my old friend, sub-district judge wei yo, as he leaves for jiao guang

there have always been heroes who helped the emperor govern
who were left nothing afterward but the dead ashes of fame
their sons and grandsons could not maintain the status of the family
this has been a continuing story under many dynasties

wei-yo is the great-grandchild of wei zheng, duke of zheng
and has suffered all his adult life from continuing hunger
this, although he stands out from others by his qualities
one notices immediately that here is a young unicorn

in numerous affairs of the zheng guan government period
wei zheng gave his advice to the emperor simply and sincerely
the fame of the family spread to all lands under heaven
there is no reason for his descendant wei yo to wander in need

you have met me here in the north of the cong wu mountains
it was a surprise for we had not seen each other for a long while
your wit in conversation is as always extraordinarily versatile
one believes you should soon be made use of by the nobility

yet you have striven in vain for a lofty well-paid position
you now laugh at yourself for this failure of your ambition
but even si ma xiang ru was not used by the court for many years
so you should not give up your appropriate aspirations

you are as poor as su chin when he returned home in his ratty sable pelts
where he was mocked unmercifully by his wife and sister-in-law
still you are here now the guest of the provisional governor
though he as yet uses you only as a small official for mundane tasks

now you leave to the hot region around the southern sea
leaving me here lonely, behind in the far distance
in your straitened condition you accept the wisdom of the heavens
so you leave your home unperturbed trusting in fate

it is just at the end of the year that you unfurl your sails
i would like it if you might return to visit on the spring winds
while there you will be the guest of many respectable families
their houses will be decorated with delicate carvings of dragons

the food they offer is next to the magnificence of princes
the music of their parties will touch your heart and make you sad
their servants are so attentive as to lull an entire city to ease
thier silk garments are as light and ephemeral as fog and smoke

in one hand they will hold a mug carved from amber
the other will pour the wine with an elegance of form
these joys will be new to you and will continue deep into the night
inside will be the gleaming of candles, outside the sparkle of stars

within a short time the benificent hearts of the hosts will shine
as pearls and precious stones are showered on the guests
within this embarrassment of riches show sincerity to your superiors
and harbor no suspicions when dealing with your subordinates

if you present your innermost thoughts directly to the governor with conviction
you will be given worthwhile tasks to bring to necessary fruition
this would be like once shi chong, heedless of the emperor’s wrath
fearlessly shattering the coral tree which jin wu di had given to wang kai

on the one hand you must have determined bold behavior
but on the other you must have consideration as befits a guest
that is the darkening world of war you are entering into
i regret we must part now and go our separate ways

murphy living in his mind the struggles of his young friends

von zach XIX,23





at the end of winter i give this poem to gentleman-in-waiting qian zhang sun as he returns to his house

i gave up my position as a military counsellor of the governor
now i wander about as a vagabond and cannot return to my homeland
i live in a foreign land to the south beyond the xiao and xiang rivers
while the western barbarians extend their sway in hu xian and du ling

i have made your acquainance here late in my life
and you have tarried long with me without thought of lost time
i trust you will let me know soon when we can meet again
my sad soul watches the unmooring of your boat

the sky is cloudless and the dancing gulls make festive play
whereas the wild geese fly in disorder due to the harsh winds
i offer this box which contains two extremely sharp swords
if you like one take it and use it as gan-jiang and mo-ye have done

murphy arming his dreams as a feeble old man

von zach XIX,24





in the company of imperial commissioner pei i climb to the tower of yo zhou

across the expansive lake lies the ever present clouds and fog
the lonely tower of yo zhou stands out in the serene evening sky
you treat me kindly as once did governor chen fan his friend xu zhi
your lovely poetry reminds me of the famous du xie tiao

on the snowy shore of the lake one sees many plum blossoms
the mud is just beginning to show the coming fresh vegetation
why should i go against the advice of the fisherman as once did chu yuan
and continue to move on even further south than i find myself now

murphy using any excuse to justify himself

von zach XIX,25





i escort my cousin judge wan li as he leaves to go to nan hai in guang dong

my great-great aunt on my father’s side was the mother of your great-grandfather
when your great-grandfather wang gui was yet minister she was his wife
at the end of the da ye government period in the sui dynasty
the fang and du families befriended your great-grandfather

the oldest of the two families once lived in your great-grandfather’s house
in those years of drought it was difficult to find enough food to live
once your family was in such need that the guests could be given no food
next to their seats was only a broom and shovel for the waste

but then suddenly wonderful dishes were brought to the table
later the house returned to quietude once the guests were gone
when your great-grandfather entered the women’s quarter
he had to sigh when he found his wife without a hair chignon

she turned to him and said that this is a time of war and need
that one must extend oneself to nurture men of competence
she had checked the importance of the invited guests
they were all of substance and were talents within the government

she mentioned that she knew wang gui would be there
and that the young li shi min would show his wavy beard
and she had decided that her husband’s future
might be decided by these famous and powerful men

she reminded that the moment of action belongs to those who act
then dragons and tigers combine the richness of their voices
now was the time for her to show the bravery of a man
and to throw off the weakness of being a woman

prince li shi min prince of chin was indeed among the guests
his majestic apearance surprised the entire house
later at the beginning of the zheng guan governmental period
wang gui was elevated to the position of ministerial director

his wife then was normally carried around in a sedan chair
she often visited the palace to congratulate the emperor at festivities
her deportment was noted by the women of the harem
and her modest devotion and morality influenced the imperial women

the emperor treated her as if she were the wife of his older brother
her influence and character is attested to in the histories
the descendant of such a phoenix pairing cannot be an ordinary person
and who else but you will evidence their level of talents

when at the moment of the uprising of the traitor an lu shan
the entire world was filled with the moaning of the people
i wished to establish myself back in tong zhou
and your family accompanied mine as they fled there

in that time of terrible chaos i was without a horse
forced to travel alone on foot i kept hidden in the high grasses
my staying behind worried you and though you had gone ten miles
you came back and called to me to come out of my hiding

you had me climb up in the saddle to leave that place
you gave me your powerful sword to defend myself
you led the horse with the reins in your left hand
you ran beside us while i sat high in all good comfort

thus it is that i owe to you the life i now have, for my beating heart
i will never be able to thank you adequately for your merciful aid
now it is much later in this time of warlike riots, and we are parting
since the earliest recorded history separating has been full of pain

waves of emotion overcome this useless old white-head
while your green uniform reminds of the sprouting spring grass
now you proceed to your position as a judge alongside the higher officials
surely the governor of guang dong will recognize your extreme competency

for here you will proceed first by carriage to han yang in the north
then you will go south from there on the shuang river
when you arrive you are sure to uphold the fame of your family
and wield a sharp sword to delineate the keen fairness of your decisions

the governor there, li mian pf pan yu belongs to the imperial family
his strategy is always to rely upon the aid of incisive minds
as governor he is more upright than lu huan or song jing
he has forbidden the bestowing of jewels and precious objects as bribes

the headmen of the barbarians have submitted to him, one after another
the ships of foreign peoples come in the thousands to trade there
i would love to accompany you there to get cinnabar, the elixir of life
but the strain of the long trip would be too much for my feeble body

why is it that i find myself deeply mired here in the mud
while i have the ambition of a whale or giant turtle to ride over the seas

murphy as an old man seeing with more and more clarity the dimunition of his worth

von zach XIX,26





to visit the giant southern mountain i travel on dong ting lake

as we approach the lake the waves become suddenly higher
around a bend we see this difference comes from dong ting lake
i have left the high woods of hu be behind me
my ship is headed toward the giant southern mountain

i notice that the fragrant water grass has raised her green sprouts
while the reeds in the cold water exhibit their green knots
where can i travel by walking with my severe diabetes
at the beginning of spring my strength is at its lowest ebb

i see farmers are beginning to plow even though snow still falls
all the fishermaen have built their small huts out of mud
the sails are swollen by the strong winds and the boat heels
i can see in the blurry distance the lonely postal station

behind me beyond the vast waters lie the red walls
before me the cang-wu mountains where emperor shun is buried
both the daughters whom yao gave to shun in marriage have grieved there
and remember that cao cao’s plans were thwarted by the famous red wall

the throne of the sublime tang dynasty was then in bright ascendancy
with only the turfan remaining as a danger to be reckoned with
talented and honorable men are now found among the servants and workers
and in these critical times even famous nobles withdraw into loneliness

in the qin times shao-ping returned as a private man to chang an to plant melons
and the notable zhang wan proceeded in the end to his native country of wu
yet i remain here in exile with my cheeks frequently wet by bitter tears
even on through the night my boat with its high mast is followed by crows

murphy without a better plan moving just to be moving

von zach XIX,27





i stay overnight in my boat on the qing cao lake

the dong ting lake lies still farther on ahead of me
it is actually a broadening and continuation of this qing cao lake
i am staying on my boat near a field along the shore
my hourglass warns me of approaching night so i do not sail on

blocks of ice in the water constantly bump against my sides
the moon stays mostly hidden behind the thick clouds
occasionally wild geese fly up from the lake surface to go north
i berate them for being able to do so while i must remain here

murphy playing out the bitter end game though it is already lost

von zach XIX,28





i spend the night on my boat beside the postal station at white sands

it is still quite light when i decide to stop here to spend the night
on the shore i see the postal station and men around their dwellings
the lake bank here has had snow-white sand along the bank since the oldest times
it is quite beautiful when seen beside the fresh new grass which begins to grow

all of nature now burgeons with the young strength of spring
i am only a dim star here on my lonely boat and as ever a stranger
though i do enjoy the light as it gaily glimmers on the rippling waves
it makes me feel as if the heavens were descending to the lake surface

murphy still able to recognize a propitious time when it occurs

von zach XIX,29





on my journey up stream i express my feelings

earlier when peace reigned i had already become quite sick
now when the rioting and unrest have enveloped us i remain unwell
my whole life has been misfortunate because of stupidity
how could my hair have not turned white and grown sparse

i have wandered about incessantly between the four seas
and my children have been forced to rely on the support of foreign people
now i am constantly meeting young people who are unknown to me
the times i meet friends and relations are welcome but very rare

i can tell from the friendly words and kindly faces
that they continue to hold me in esteem and wish me well
but the younger generation is overly proud and not courteous
they react negatively to my age and my physical decline

my extreme distress has worn down my earlier ambition
i have always been on the move with a sense of desperation
already twelve years have passed since i left chang an
after traveling throughout si chuan i find myself in the southern regions

my lonely boat floats through many blossoming water plants
i pass my old days between reed flowers and willow branches
in blurred darkness the grave of emperor shun lies in the cang wu mountains
the bones of the five wise men are already long disintegrated

i have been unable to participate in the period of emperor yao
xi he has driven his sun chariot for too long since i have been away
in the interim period both qu yuan and jia yi have found misfortune
as they swam against the current they suffered the calumnies of enemies

perhaps both of these tormented souls have drifted here
to disappear into the loneliness of these rivers and lakes
as i proceed up the tansparent xiang river i see many rocks
all along the shore i see only thick impenetrable forest

the rowers show their craft as they take great care as they go
they develop a joy in their work and are often tipsy with laughter
they urge each other on to greater effort with loud songs
they communicate with the man at the rudder with winks and gestures

i infer that every human activity develops special skills
and within any of them there are men who attain true expertise
why should competent officials be be so rarely found
they were not just appointed by the emperor but earned their places

now as the evening grows dim the colors of day dive into the darkness
giant black pythons hang from the trees and one hears the snuffling of bears
it is said the brown si chuan bear climbs up into the branches
while many tigers prowl on the ground around the bases of the trees

where should i now drag my skeletal, sickly old frame
surrounded by mortal dangers i strive only to continue my life
i trust that knowledgeable men will understand and not blame
as i struggle along my way through the mire of this riot torn world

murphy determined to keep the ship afloat and not abandon it

von zach XIX,30





the memorial temple for the two wives of emperor shun

i stand before the still impressive temple for the two wives of emperor shun
the swollen spring waters of the xiang river flow beside the now desolate walls
worms have left trails of their travels over the girdle belts of the statues
swallows fly up and disturb the dust lying on the overhanging green canopies

it is evening so i moor my boat and climb through the woods on the shore
to express my reverential respect i ritually sacrifice some water plants
the grief of these two women at the death of emperor shun was extraordinarily deep
i imagine the stains of the bamboo trunks to be solemn vestiges of their tears

murphy standing erect and stoic over his father’s grave

von zach XIX,31





the evening view on the south side of the memorial temple at evening

my boat is pulled with a long rope upstream on the xiang river
the lonely boat swims over the golden surface lit by the setting sun
i become desirous of walking on the shore despite my old age
into the far distance to the south along the river i see only clouds and sand

the mountain goblins would surely be lost in the effusive spring bamboo
it seems to me as if the spirits of the two women float by the flowers
travelers have always been attracted to this beautiful area south of dong ting lake
they seek to experience the atmosphere where qu yuan was exiled

murphy as always appreciative of natural beauty

von zach XIX,32





vi describe what i see

respectfully i take prolonged leave of my gracious hosts
i hoist my sails and ride out on the high choppy waves
the high waters of spring have flooded the entire south
the sun half obscured by clouds stands high over the red cliffs of dan zhou

my oarsmen have forgotten how to stop to sleep or eat
they are continually working the ship in this stormy weather
my trip thus far cannot be said to have been a very happy one
that we have come this far i owe to the heroic efforts of the rowers

among the rocks along the shore i see women collecting ferns
they wish to sell them in the market to help pay their taxes
their men have all died in the army serving the state
they commisserate with each other in the evening after their work

i had heard before about the extent of this problem, and now see it
even the smallest bit of profit is heavily taxed by the officials
are these government men without even a semblance of humanity
do they really consider the people to be worthless as weeds

they are always inventing new ways to leech money from these women
and everywhere one hears the moaning of the poor dying of starvation
why do the young officers treat them with such gratuitous violence
why do they continually push them to the brink of becoming vagabonds

i am certainly happy i have a free, unfettered life with a warm spring coat
as a former official i do not pay taxes and can afford an occasional flagon of wine

murphy painfully aware of the poverty on the indian reservations

von zach XIX,33





finding a bit of peace at the end of my dangerous boat trip

i take part of my rice ration and distribute it among the oarsmen
when traveling is dangerous it pays to rely upon mutual benefit
at this moment on the far side of the dangerous rapids
i reward them for what they have acomplished for us all

yawning abysses were slithered through in a moment
even though the boat sped along seemingly out of control
when one is close to success and failure simultaneously
one should always take care that the worst outcome does not occur

if one is aware of danger and has prudent regard for safety
one acts as did the honored wise men in the past
this warning should perhaps be considered for the entire empire
i earnestly hope that the nation should not be oblivious to its dangers

murphy imagining himself the head of his clan

von zach XIX,34





staying the night in cuo shi pu

the boatmen are tired and even though it is not late in the day
i decide to stop at this beautiful station and enjoy the spring landscape
but since the storms come quickly here and frequently
we can do nothing more than anchor our boat and enjoy our surroundings

the water calms down somewhat as the evening progresses
the sun has fallen and the stars have begun their scintillation
the waning moon has not yet appeared with its weak light
the wind blows out our lamp leaving us in a deep darkness

many outstanding men are suffering and miserable at this time
in this chaotic world there is no kindness or sympathy anymore
i am only an ordinary man continuously a victim of my carelessness
the days trickle by and i make no progress as i slowly age

my confucian apprenticeship taught me to beware of danger
i take solace in reading and contemplating the book of changes

murphy driven back to the pivotal lessons of his youth

von zach XIX,35





i depart early in the morning

this morning i sing with joy, yet soon i will cry again
in my long journey i must constantly be moving on
as yesterday i remain alone on a solitary boat
i hear the same noisy storm, the same people as before

everywhere i see birds flying, fearless in the weather, feeding
why must only the fish be frightened hiding beneath the waves
earlier rulers invented nets and many other methods
the fish long ago learned to fear the wily methods of men

green water plants grow in these waters in great profusion
but i cannot tarry alongside their beauty and must hoist sails
the truce has not yet produced an end to the vicious rioting
i am as fearful of the unrest as the fish are of the nets

murphy making coffee before everyone else begins to stir

von zach XIX,36





i come to the jin kou ferry crossing

the great southern mountain heng is not far from here
there the xiang turns east and becomes ever deeper
a friendly breeze helps the rowers along our way
the spring sun brightens the cloud crowned peaks

after a bend in the river we pass jin kou crossing
from there we see dense maple forests on the banks
white fish are caught here in specialized narrow nets
i can hear the beautiful voices of yellow orioles

even the smaller creatures of nature have luck or misfortune
and often men are moved to compassion when they see them suffer
fortunately i have a jug of wine beside me for comfort
and my lute sits on my knees, soundless for the moment

saints and decent men of the past i have known are dead now
i am left alone with wine and music as my only consolations

murphy practicing his latest song for the upcoming gig

von zach XIX,37





i come to kong ling gorge

i am going upriver fighting through the wild waves
while on both sides beautiful scenes pass me by
fortunately the row boat can make only slow progress
so i can enjoy the landscape completely at my leisure

the reddish rocks of kong ling gorge soar skyward
maples and conifers hide behind the rugged crags
the green of spring brings joy here as everywhere
and even the sun is shining which is here a rarity

i could build a house here and make a happy life
i could remain and whistle all i want until i die
the toxic miasmas of the south would not prevent this
but i do fear the rioting in this wild borderland

i have passed by beautiful scenery before without enjoyment
i am ashamed to say that i was afraid of being ridiculed by people
but now with the boat’s slow passage through gorgeous terrain
i can loose my greedy delight in this marvelous spectacle

murphy listening to his grandmother remember her bus trips through the northwest

von zach XIX,38





i stay overnight in the hua shi fort

during lunch i passed through the kong ling gorge
in the evening i was able to reach the hua shi fort
here along beside the ancient flow of waters
i find a jumbled forest of both mature and fresh growth

the perpetual southern winds bring a muggy warmth
the spring days become hot even into the evening hours
the four seasons are normally distinct in their feeling
why is the weather here in such a confused state

this infinite world amazes with its bewildering differences
why should i be so surprised when order and disorder alternate
my boat is docked by an old reddish circular fort
i stumble up a path with my cane like an old lumberjack

the heavy taxation of the people has caused the village to be deserted
only the springs are flowing in their abandoned gardens
although the doors of the abandoned huts are hidden by weeds
the iron farming equipment appears still to be in good shape

over east of tai hang mountain rebels continue to maraud
yet the heavy burden of imperial taxes are still ruthlessly collected
who will it be who finally knocks on the emperor’s door
to inform him of the need to reduce this unbearable burden on the people

murphy toting up the appalling results of confiscatory laws

von zach XIX,39





i set off early in the morning

one hundred doubts accompany any request for help
especially from an old sickly man such as i
although i still have many friends and acquaintances
i find myself continually travelling even into my dotage

asked to leave quite early the oarsmen are cranky
the sails are hoisted but the winds are unfavorable
wise men in the past counselled caution to avoid dangers
so why must i be in such a rush to be under way today

the waves are thick and black while serpents leap about
the rising sun ignites a yellowish hue within the fog
i feel tired and suspect the miasma may be affecting me
i stretch out on the boat and try to get some sleep

later my servant wakes me and i wash and comb my hair
my aged locks affront me as i gaze into the mirror
i fasten my hairpin quickly and put a cloth cap on my head
as i gaze on the flowers of the forest i am ashamed of my appearance

i listen to the people complain about robbers who came in the night
but i have little to fear since my pockets are quite empty
as a result of these riots i am travelling in these alien lands
to be ingratiating and ask for help grates on my self respect

bo yi and shu qi once starved themselves rather than ask for aid
but then su qin and zhang yi came later and received rice and horses
i am only a poor man and know not which example to follow
the trouble is that i can make arguments for doing either

murphy hide-bound to make his own way

von zach XIX,40





i come to the island of wan zhou

it is a cloud bedecked, mighty, rocky island
choppy windswept waves beat upon the shore
this island of wan zhou deserves its notoriety
its rugged beauty is absolutely unusual

my boat grazes the branches to which monkeys cling
the high waves lift me above the low flying shore birds
the ceaseless waves make it difficult to read my books
so i go onto the steep sandy shore for a while to pick flowers

despite the rigors of travel the beautiful scenery invigorates me
but soon enough grief comes back to my lank decaying body
back in the homeland of china proper, battles still rage
how can anyone look into the future without foreboding

murphy striving as always for equanimity midst the struggle of life

von zach XIX,41





i leave the moldy rocks of bo ma tan

the high water this spring now covers my mooring rope
as is normal for me i leave this wilderness place at sunrise
night finds me the same as yesterday as birds fly around
the flowers on the shore smile at me but i pass them by

the people i meet have pity for this white haired old man
i have been entertained steadily with wonderful wines
but i cannot accept the generous offers by my new acquaintances
i must drive myself further south and never come back this way

murphy maniacal in the pursuit of his goals

von zach XIX,42





returning geese

i hear the geese migrate oddly this spring
they leave guang zhou for further south
they now depart from the warm sea in the flower season
though they came here to escape the snows of the north

the movement of these birds brings the premonition of more war
when can an anxious ttraveler find some peace and rest
in previous years these birds flew down in the autumn
and they never went further south than dong ting lake

murphy feeling global warming reverberate through nature

von zach XIX,43





looking out over the landscape

all encompassing is the size of heaven and earth
this powerful country recedes far, far into the distance
mountain after mountain wreathed in billowing clouds
the plains of the miao people endless before me

the vast forests are threatened by surging spring floods
the rough reeds along the shore grow quickly when the ice melts away
i am getting older and fading away on my small boat
i will find no shining court to serve as a useful sage

murphy no longer harboring thoughts of achievement and glory

von zach XIX,44





i come to qiao kou zhen

in the far mists of the distance lies the capital chang an
the way back untravellable by this old feeble traveller
in these my older days i exist in the river and lake region
at sunset now i am surrounded by the charms of spring

the bees are whirring through the flowering bushes and trees
light winged swallows slip in flight to sip the mud on the shore
jia yi’s bones have long since decayed into a fine dust
i am close to his last place of exile and grieve over our similar fates

murphy finding parallels in all that he sees

von zach XIX,45





i seek shelter from a storm in the bay at tong guan mountain

although it is not yet evening i lower my sails
i seek protection from a storm on the xiang river
here now the first grass in the paddy fields are flooded
in the spring the hillsides are cleared again by fire

as i anchor here the area is darkened by the coming storm
i could not continue upstream now against the high waves
a pair of white cranes fly high above me and continue on
i can never hope to follow and catch up with them

murphy being prudent despite his inclinations

von zach XIX,46





north wind

the spring brings a bad miasma here in the southern regions
it is dispersed only by a brisk north wind
toward evening today as the world darkens it begins
by full darkness the whole world is shaken by it

fresh air replaces the fetor of the moist lowlands
while the sound of the wind tears over the vast dong ting lake
the fish and dragons tremble under these broad waters
the birds and beasts are awake in terror even at midnight

but i feel as if i am cleansed and look forward to further travel
though i am worried that the boat will be harmed by the harsh winds
after the prolonged oppressive sweltering heat of the south
the cooling effect of the north wind is certainly desirable

now i feel my asthma has been helped by this weather
and i feel i should tarry no longer but be on my way again
yet i ask my oarsmen to wait again for a second night
and while we wait out the strong winds i feel much healthier

the next morning the storm has abated and we set off
in the bright sunshine we make good progress
sitting in my armchair i watch the wind filled sails
as the cloud wreathed hills cheerily pass me by

murphy always game for an adventure

von zach XIX,47





my feelings (1 of 2)

in life it is of great consequence where a man is born
the sky above reflects down his individual talents
as a young man he must prepare himself to be of service
when he attains officialdom he must ably discharge his obligations

unfortunately my entire life has been filled with frustrations
even into my older years i am dogged by difficulties and dangers
for it was my lot to be living when an lu shan brought his distress to the throne
and countless disloyal minds decided to flock to his side

the huang he and lo shui rivers ran red with blood
the high nobility wept bitter tears along the road side
even the capital in chang an fell into his hands
the imperial coach of state forced to flee into the dust of the roads

the entire nation was made to weep as do small children
for both our emperor’s were made to abandon their palace
since then almost twenty four years have passed
and all during this time the country has been torn by riots

our dynasty renewed itself under emperor dai zong
but it has not achieved the eminence of the zheng guan period
now the state income is used to meet the needs of the army
the highest ministers concentrate their efforts on raising more and more taxes

even men of high standing are rebuked for their failure
who can possibly take the chance to help the people
especially such a decrepit old man as i who wishes to help
his views are disregarded even before they might have been offered

the former emperor recognized this problem and took blame upon himself
but the current leader has not done so which bothers me considerably
and of course the years do not wait for me or any man
and i am hampered by my illnesses as the time for action flees

at night i imagine myself rising righteously with my sword
i, the avenging dragon, emerging from my seclusion in the pond
but i am, alas, too aware of the ravages of my age
and must make do with the verity contained within my brush

murphy opening his romantic heart to the possiblility of total rejection

von zach XIX,48





my feelings (2 of 2)

the country is in danger and all the success of the past is crumbling
i am grief stricken, filled with longing for the time of great sovereigns
i am stuck sailing far from home on the xiang river
at dusk i search in vain for the tomb of emperor shun wu

i am a fish in his deep hiding hole who refuses to bite
i am an escaping deer who never looks back as he flees
my heart when young was full of love and freedom
now i am severely twisted into an embittered old man

i am driven solely now by my need of food and clothing
so i constantly seek prospective new friends in these distant places
i have struggled my way through the wind and waves of spring
for a hundred miles up this forest-lined sandy river

on the trip upstream there were only a few pleasant days
the date of the qing ming party i usually celebrate has now passed
i abandoned my house in the old country to rot and decay
and have pushed my oarsmen to take many uncertain trips

in addition to the miseries which afflict the aging man
i have been hindered by everyday trivial necessities
everyone must eventually die and pass into the darkness of eternity
why bother to seek fame as an official to put a name on a grave

i am truly saddened never to have found the fabled peach blossoms spring
here because of my stupidity i stick to my plan of going ever more south
i have come to accept the toxic miasma of the approaching hot season
as i have begun to neglect the dangers of traveling in the lake district

tigers and wolves are chewing on the central section of the empire
that is why i persist in my evermore southerly journey
go hong and xu jing were forced to flee in ancient times
and their destinations were the same as mine today

though i cannot hope to match these men in wisdom
i too became a vagabond drifting about in the southern lakes
i still lose weight and cannot gain it back, how can i continue to travel
i now lose consciousness while undergoing acupuncture and moxabustion

because of the slowness of my journey the servants have become lazy
they complain constantly about my need to interrupt the travel for rest
my hope is once again to be able to hoist the sail and be on the way
but it is as always difficult to tell the will of heaven in these matters

i would like to reach the far south where the giant mountains rise
there i believe i could force myself to rise up once again
i would look out in friendship on the old polar star
i might even try to stretch my legs to the top of the southern peaks

murphy never knowing when it is time to give it up and quit for a while

von zach XIX,49





looking up at the giant mountain heng shan

the giant mountain here lies under the red bird constellation
it has always been revered by hundreds of princes through the ages
it brings the miraculous breath of life as its force on earth
with its mighty presence it overlooks half the southern regions

the different dynasties’ sacrificial ceremonies have honored its influence
but each ruled by their own virtue not through the incense of the prayers
how quiet it has now become since the ceremonial processions in the past
emperor shun who sacrificed here has long ago left this earth

the entanglements of the world have thwarted my ambitions
so i have undertaken this long journey on the xiao and xiang rivers
as the thirsty sun bursts over the steep mountain walls
my boat rocks gently in the purity of sunlit waves

the zhu-rong tip juts above the other salient points
the other peaks follow in heights lower this top face
only the zi gai top which is broken away rivals the zhu rong
and peers over at her with a similar looming power

i respectfully report what i have heard of wei-hua-tun
this daughter of wei shu is said to fly here surrounded by immortals
but now there appear in the air surrounding the five peaks
rapidly advancing clouds bringing snow to their majestic heights

because of my poor health and the rigors of my journey
i fear i have not the energy needed to climb onto the mountain
when i return here i wish to order a palanquin to carry me
i wish to perform my ablutions at the fabled palace of the immortals

there i will invoke the god of this heng-shan with three ritual three sighs
asking for his help in finally restoring our empire to its glory
although the degenerate morals of our time have forgotten proper sacrifice
i ask the great god of the mountain to bestow blessings on the country

murphy shredding sacred tobacco into the wind

von xach XIX,50





festival day (1 of 2)

this morning the new smoke arose from the new fires
during the han shi festival kindling was forbidden
i look out on the colors of the lake and the splendor of spring
my boat is a stranger in this land at the time of the festival

the birds are afire with color carrying flowers in their beaks
they are certainly content with their lot in this time of birth
the children are flush from their riding around on bamboo horses
alas i have grown too old for that sort of pleasure

the dress of the barbarian boys is of their finest
they are not always so well groomed as they are for today
the narrow waists of the girls of chu are also beguiling
it is a treat to see the natives celebrating in their happiness

i note that the old town square is no longer to be found here
and with it gone the fame of the han prince liu fa has also faded
the house well of jia yi, counselor of the prince of chang sha, is said to still exist
and i have always wished to see the remains of this famous house

the local people here endure a month long fast in their celebration
that is too much for me in my old age though i normally eat less these days
because i have no money to buy meat for my meals
i am tempted to earn money like yan zun by telling fortunes

but i cannot see the future, though i do note differences
between the people from the town and those from the forests
i spend my days now eating coarse rice and drinking dull wine
i have become more like the hermits come fresh into town

murphy on the outside looking in

von zach XIX,51





festival day (2 of 2)

my physical body continues to wander west then east
while i am unable to move my right arm and am half deaf
i am alone and restricted to this ship, tears fall from my eyes
i am seriously ill and write in the air with my left hand like yin hao

for ten years now i celebrate festival day watching my children play ball
the local custom is the same as that thousands of miles away
at this time wild geese fly into the heavens to return to the great wall
here they use green maple wood instead of willow to make our ritual fire

back in chang an the palaces are now surrounded by lush flowers
the mountains and rivers there burst with color like embroidered carpets
here the wind swept dong ting lake is swollen with spring runoff
i am saddened by the white chestnuts reminding me of white-haired old age

murphy going through the motions

von zach XIX,52





a guest from the south

a guest visited me from the southern seas
he gave me some pearls called mermaid tears
there were strange cloudy characters on the pearls
i wanted to decipher them but found i could not

i then put them away in my suitcase
i wanted to save them for use when the tax man came
now though when i opened the box they had turned to blood
my regret is simple, i have nothing now with which to pay my taxes

murphy without a prayer of catching a break

von zach XIX,53





i leave tan zhou

last night i celebrated long with a delightful chang sha wine
this morning i again make my way on the spring swollen xiang river
blossoms from the shore plants fly through the air to give me escort
the swallows flit around the mast and beguile me with their twittering

no one can hope to match jia yi, counselor to the prince of chang sha
nor attain the beauty of the writing of zhu sui liang governor of tan zhou
the first in the han, the second in the tang achieved high fame
i am thinking of them this morning and my wasted life saddens me

murphy so old and decrepit everything turns to remorse

von zach XIX,54





shuang feng pu, the landing place by the two maple trees

i moor my boat at the place named for two maple trees
both have long since collapsed but their logs remain
i myself have seen a precipitous decline in my strength
who would have thought two such sturdy trees would ever fall

the waves are so high they threaten to wash over me and take my gauze cap
one must strip the moss from the trunks of those trees to use as a raft
i would like to ask for them from the owner of the land where they lie
so i could make a raft and return home like once zhang-qian rose into the sky

murphy the victim of a rambling decrepit mind

von zach XIX,55





i send a poem in reciprocation to judge guo shou, fifteenth of his clan

i am a victim of limited talents and senile decay
but i still enjoy an undeserved reputation among a few
i have lain sick abed in this area of rivers and lakes
while spring renews and invigorates the land

because of my illness i think mostly about my medicines
and have completely abandoned any efforts at poetry
only now when i begin to feel i can blossom flowers again
i receive, as in the past, some verses from a dear friend

my verses remind one of the useless pebbles of the kingdom of yan
and my ability compares to the useless rocks in the meteor shower of the zuo zhuan
but your lines shine like the pearls of the duke of sui illuminating the night
and since i received them my nights have seemed much more cheerful

the wind-whipped waves hasten past qiao kou the island of oranges
they remind of the speed with which you sailed from here toward chang sha
why didn’t you moor your little sailboat here for a bit longer
and we could have talked together and shared our poetry

murphy grasping at any sign of warmth and pleasure

von zach XIX,56





in heng zhou i escort my old friend head censor li mian as he leaves for canton

you came with your insignia of rank from the highest heaven
your official barge floats proudly across the expanse of dong ting lake
you are the north wind bringing fresh breezes from chang an
the rebels of the south will give way to you and your brilliance

by day and by night i languish here like a bird trapped in a cage
between heaven and earth i am but duckweed floating on water
you are my old friend come as an elder from the imperial house
you behold here a floating thistle-down grown old and decrepit

murphy sitting on the sidelines while the game is played by others

von zach XIX,57





i wish to leave heng zhou and return to xiang yang

when younger i tried to accept my lot in life as predestined
and feared to follow my own heartfelt desires, but no longer
life is a result of fully accepting consequences of actions
i have spent too many years now searching for food far from home

streams and lakes around the giant heng mountain are difficult
there is a great deal of malaria along the zheng xiang river
i have become a useless person begging here and there for my food
living thus in foreign lands i stand ashamed before worthy men of the past

why should i think to brush the dust off my head scarf
why, when only empty wine jugs pile up on my boat
the muggy heat exacerbates my feeble attempts at keeping clean
torrential rains constantly assault the feebleness of my body

when i make rice to eat water-mallow soup makes it easier to swallow
i spend the entirety of my idle days drinking cup after cup of tea
i long for the relative cleanliness of the han river in xiang yang
i remember the refreshing coolness at the summit of xian mountain

when traveling downstream one can use the current to advantage
but when turning back north one must use sails to catch the winds
still today the stone tablet of my forefather du yu stands on mount xian
as also still sits the well of the famous author wang can

here in xiang yang i want to spend my old age in a chair with my cane
i will build myself a small reed hut for necessary shelter
as i have before i will take joy in watering a small garden
and i will live out my days in peace as once did liu hui fei on guang mountain

there i can life as a fisherman in harmony with my inclinations
i will not need to hunger for fame as once did lu zheng lian
i ask these long suffering oarsmen to take me back to the north
to begin now in the hot summer to go to the cold waters of xiang yang

murphy saving it all up for last go-round

von zach XIX,58





on the xiang river a farewell feast is given the censor pei as he leaves for dao zhou

a bright sun falls on the escort boat and the official party
the fluttering red flags enliven the festivities on the broad river
ranking officials bid the new governor of dao zhou farewell
they approach the ceremonial mats with a well-ordered dignity

even i, though unworthy, have received a gracious invitation
since i have expressed admiration for him from my earliest youth
our relationship is, as it were, that of blood brothers
and i can freely express all my feelings toward him

he has become famous as a result of his many successes
while i stand before him talentless and ashamed
yet his feelings for me have not changed though i have had misfortune
our relationship has the strength of metal or stone

my thick-headedness is even greater than the lesser writers
but in his presence i become in good measure reborn
unfortunately our time together will be curtailed
the joy of reunion quickly followed by the grief of separation

most of our old friends have disappeared as if taken by the wind
the past lies ever more distant, ever more hazy
i am drawn to the drinking by my hundreds of worries
and while i wish to show a stoic face, tears gush forth

muggy clouds gather within a dark night sky
masking the arrival of the waning moon
in this heat my white fan is soon broken from overuse
long billows of smoke rise from the mass of colored candles

the cang guo and he tan birds sing to the rise of the morning star
at this time i take my leave and return again to my boat
my parting wish is for him to reduce the military in his district
and to promote widely the resumption of agriculture

and i trust he will remember the old man ill from diabetes
and send me letters to the top of the high mountain where i wish to be

murphy dutifully keeping up appearances

von zach XIX,59





respectfully i give this poem to wang qin, prefect of ying zhou, as he returns to the north

the emperor’s court has ordered two separate things to be done
crush the robbers and rebels, and show compassion for the common people
to accomplish this the emperor chose from a splendid group of officials
and decided that you would become the prefect of ying zhou

it has been a heavy worry of the emperor for some time now
to alleviate the heavy burden of the people and see to their needs
since your appointment smoke again rises from the houses in your district
the wounds of the people have stopped bleeding and begun to heal

only in your district near the sea can one hear happy songs
and triumphant trumpet calls come down from the mountain fortresses
i am now only a white haired old man whose habit is to retire early
the young farmers though are diligent and once fallow land is now producing

your official duties over, now people kneel before your carriage as you return
yet you sent out a rider to fetch me like once liu tan searched for zhang ping
you have no need to seek me out for any official matter
so i ask myself how can i repay the kindness you have shown me

dust piles up on the paintbrush of our earlier collegues, the censors
during these long years of misery my black sable has lost its luster
your special friendship shall remain with me until my end
though your example of high confucian ethics now leaves me for good

we must separate like the rain separates from the clouds
our future lives spreading apart in the vaults of heaven
even now as the birds groan in the heat of the forest
and the fish shake their heads in the depths of their pools

although many rebels in the north pledge themselves again to the emperor
i like si ma tan have chosen to remain here in the south
troop movements must be minimized as much as possible
yet all the lands of the emperor must be retaken and brought to peace

i trust you will still be able to give the emperor your sage advice
how civility must be shown to the foreign people in the eight areas of action
i look forward with growing hope to hear the decisions of the dynasty
fully confident that the crown will bestow honor on the ancestral temple

you my old friend will carry with you your innately proper being
while i remain here in the distant borderland with my worries receding
i would like to see another government like that of emperor yao
where i could wander freely forever within a joyous population

murphy connected to the old boy’s network still

von zach XIX,60





i mourn the death of chief censor wei zhi jin

i remember with melancholy xun xia in the land of jin
i enjoyed your friendship there in our younger years
there i recieved undeservedly your gracious attention
and blossomed under your thorough tutelage of the classics

your official offices were originally in the imperial city
then at the end you were resplendent as the governor of hu nan
you richly deserved the high dignity of this position
you always stood out from the midst of our colleagues

i followed your career closely though from afar
i was unfortunately separated from your voice and face
i came to hu nan to see you but to my horror you had died
when i think of our earlier friendship in the north i weep continuously

you died in chang sha where once jia yi received a portent of his death
your were truly loved and honored by all the people in hu nan
i will be at your funeral weeping most bitterly as did fan shi for zhang guo
i will place a suitable sword near your grave as ji zha did for the prince of xu

it is fortunate that now the tang dynasty has begun to blossom anew
your son has your abilities and should follow you into positions of dignity
he carries himself with the same graceful harmony as you did
and will surely stride through his future times as a worthy imperial servant

it is now just at the height of summer in chang sha
the streams and the lakes show their beauty in the fair weather
now your marvelous house among the trees is closed
funeral flags fly high over the hall where your coffin sits

curtains in the hall move as though swallows fly through in the wind
flutes sound a quicker pace and more sadly than the evening cicadas
all the joy of life has stopped in your abandoned house
you will never again visit my boat as once liu tan visited zhang ping

now it seems as if all the friends of my youth have already died
and i am left alone worrying about the cost of living in chang sha
since i have become old and feeble i find myself often in tears
the pain and shock of your death has prompted me to write these verses

who will be able to match your administration of this part of the empire
the court of officials are reluctant to appoint a general to follow you
the final judgement of history will praise you for your service
the talent you personified led you to a just and lasting fame

murphy the old man melting away in the summer heat

von zach XIX,61





sick in the tower in a riverside apartment at chang sha, i send these verses to censors cui and lu

the kitchen of an itinerant is poorly equipped
but the bed in this tower is pleasantly fresh
the illness of my old age has made me a stick manikin
while on these long summer days thoughts turn to the generosity of friends

i look forward to the smooth taste of steamed rice
and savor the subtle aroma of water-lily soup
these dishes are soothing and bring warmth to the stomach
perhaps either of you might send the makings for a few such bowls

urphy concentrating more and more on the immediate present

von zach XIX,62





in chang sha i give this poem to ministerial secretary wei tiao as he leaves for shao zhou

you are now appointed the prefect of shao-zhou on the hot southern sea
before this you were ministerial secretary in the offices of the imperial city
the emperor has offered you an office fit for your exceptional talents
because i was your colleague earlier in life i also bask in your radiance

my hair is white and growing more sparse in my illness of old age
the time of autumn has returned and the cold last night affected me
the wild geese do not fly farther south than the dong-ting lake
thus you shouldn’t expect my letters, but please send me news of your doings

murphy settling for the life of a spectator

von zach XIX,63





i answer a poem that prefect wei tiao has sent

i remain in my simple seclusion in the land of rivers and lakes
the emperor’s court no longer has a memory of my being
i am thus abashed that you chose to come visit me
and i have received many of your wonderful letters

my wispy white hair does not comb properly these days
your new poems, however, have the intricate sheen of brocade
although the wild geese still do not carry letters farther south than here
i am grateful to the fish that swim north carrying your felicitous phrases

murphy occasionally able to do the properly civil thing

von zach XIX,64





up in the tower

i am stuck up here between heaven and earth
scratching my head, fiddling with my white jade hatpin
the sedan chair of the emperor remains far, far to the north
while my health declines here south of dong-ting lake

a longing for the palace torments my liver and lungs
yet i know my timber is not up to serving any useful purpose
driven here by the unrest i have been unable to sustain myself
i will end my days here on the banks of the xiao and the xiang

murphy ready to give up the ghost

von zach XIX,65




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