murphy’s li tai bo von zach XXII

xxii-01 by the yu nu quan spring in ying cheng xian
xxii-02 on my way to guang ling i spend the night in the southern outskirts of that city in the hermitage of chang, second of his clan
xxii-03 at night i go past the zheng lu pavilion
xxii-04 i travel downriver to my old apartment in shi men shan
xxii-05 written in the hinterlands
xxii-06 early fall in tai yuan
xxii-07 written as i travel on the river (1 of 5)
xxii-08 written as i travel on the river (2 of 5)
xxii-09 written as i travel on the river (3 of 5)
xxii-10 written as i travel on the river (4 of 5)
xxii-11 written as i travel on the river (5 of 5)
xxii-12 autumn thoughts on the river flowing below jing men mountain
xxii-13 i come to the ya lan post office and climb mold cliff there: dedicated to censor pei
xxii-14 traveling by boat near jing men on the river shu
xxii-15 traveling upstream on the yang zi through the three gorges
xxii-16 going by boat to ba dong through the ju tang gorge i stop to climb to the highest point of wu mountain. returning in the evening i write this verse on the wall
xxii-17 in the morning i leave the fortress bo di cheng
xxii-18 in the fall i travel downstream past jing men
xxii-19 traveling on the river i send these lines to a special friend
xxii-20 staying at the foot of mount wu song in the house of old woman xun
xxii-21 i travel on the ling yang stream down to the se tan cliffs
xxii-22 i travel down the ling yang river and come along the banks of the gao river past the rocks of the “three gates” and “six spines”
xxii-23 in the evening i anchor near huang mountain and listen to yin, 14th of his clan, sing songs of the kingdom of wu
xxii-24 overnight on xia hu lake
xxii-25 the beautiful xi shi
xxii-26 general wang xi zhi
xxii-27 the pixie shang yuan
xxii-28 from the gu su balcony in su zhou i gaze on the ruins of the past
xxii-29 i look at the ruins of the old capital in yue
xxii-30 the four old men of shang mountain
xxii-31 i happen upon the graves of the four old men
xxii-32 contemplating the past on xian mountain
xxii-33 general su wu
xxii-34 as i cross over the yi bridge, i remember the fate of zhang liang
xxii-35 nan jing (1 of 3)
xxii-36 nan jing (2 of 3)
xxii-37 nan jing (3 of 3)
xxii-38 sailing near ban qiao pu on a moonlit autumn night, alone and drinking i think of the poet xie tiao
xxii-39 i visit peng li lake
xxii-40 the wife of the prefect of lu jiang fu
xxii-41 with under-censor song i spend the night in wu chang remembering the distant past
xxii-42 gazing on parrot island i think of ni heng
xxii-43 stopping overnight at the foot of wu mountain
xxii-44 the bo yang crossing at nan king
xxii-45 on the pavilion of the poet xie tiao
xxii-46 i write these verses on wu song mountain in nan ling
xxii-47 anchored at night below cattle mountain, i think of the distant past
xxii-48 ten songs about gu shu (1 of 10)
xxii-49 ten songs about gu shu (2 of 10)
xxii-50 ten songs about gu shu (3 of 10)
xxii-51 ten songs about gu shu (4 of 10)
xxii-52 ten songs about gu shu (5 of 10)
xxii-53 ten songs about gu shu (6 of 10)
xxii-54 ten songs about gu shu (7 of 10)
xxii-55 ten songs about gu shu (8 of 10)
xxii-56 ten songs about gu shu (9 of 10)
xxii-57 ten songs about gu shu (10 of 10)

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-01

by the yu nu quan spring in ying cheng xian

a fairy queen has disappeared in this hidden place
where a large hot spring flows into a relaxing pool
yin and yang have combined as in the burning of coal
the sky and the earth have combined to heat these waters

deep under the earth is a burning red fire
white smoke rises from the sandy shore of the stream
boiling water bubbles forth in the bright moonlight
the mirror smooth water of the pond reflects the empty sky

drifting clouds of steam are filled with the smell of orchids
the colors of peach blossoms glint in the rising mists
a closer look reveals a constant change of the pond’s surface
it is as if it communicates somehow with the different lakes of chu

there is no better place to seek cures for various diseases
the yi jing’s sense of the overflowing of resources is exemplified here
i use the clear transparent water to clean my hatband
as i let my hair dry i delight in the bubbling warters

the water from this spring overspreads the empire of the duke of chu
song yu has written of the fields of yun meng, a gift from the duke
this spring would be a magnificent stop for the emperor of his inspection tour
but unfortunately you are retired and far from the capital

for now one can only follow the water that rushes to the great sea god
where this small bit of water can be entrusted to the vastness of the ocean

murphy understanding that the path of water is always downhill

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-02

on my way to guang ling i spend the night in the southern outskirts of that city in the hermitage of chang, second of his clan

green water flows past the simple gate of your cell
it reminds one of the fabled peach blossom spring
you use the herb xuan to forget your grief
and have planted them throughout your yard

black clouds gather and rise up over the lake
a fine rain flies against the southern window
i stay the night with my friends in the thatched hut
much like birds settle of an evening in a willow garden

writing verse and drinking we find it difficult to separate
our words pour out in waves as when the great river greets the sea
tomorrow morning going into the city proper of guang ling
i shall be thinking of nothing more than this night’s carouse

murphy always hanging with the rowdy philosophes

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-03

at night i go past the zheng lu pavilion

as i sail on a boat down to guang ling
i pass the zheng lu pavilion in the moonlight
the flowers on the mountain are rouged maiden’s cheeks
the lights of the other boats fireflies flitting about

murphy seizing the moment to press into memory

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-04

i travel downriver to my old apartment in shi men shan

i

the mountains of wu are towering high
the waters of the yue are running clear
i take the hands of friends without words in mind
i am moved by the thought of our separation

i am to leave your friendly embrace once again
reluctantly i turn to hoist the sail and set out
but my mind cannot separate the forest
from the fog obscured outskirts of the city

who knows the deep sorrow in my heart
who could ever describe that terrible feeling
i am ashamed that i have been undeservedly treated so well
and described as one of the first scholars of the empire

earlier in the spring we sat in the beautiful countryside
drinking much wine we spoke of our love of nature
i was honored to be with you at the annual festivals at the capital
and i admired that you always had daoist scriptures on your desks

red characters dancing on the whitest of silk
enhanced colors recalling the splendor of dawn
i also once studied the daoist scriptures
and carefully considered the deepest secrets

in my dreams i traveled into the mountains
seeking the immortals who dwelled thereupon
when can i finally throw away my shoes
and take leave of the people in this world

in the taverns of ho gong are many people
a different world there under the sun and moon
here all the men are soon to be destroyed
soon we may see the empire’s fall

five colored clouds fly over zhong mountain
i usually see them looking out my window
when they are gone i see all the way to song mountain
and remember the fabled elf house one visits there

when i come back i will joyfully take the hand of master hong yai
and learn with him how to become one with the immortals

ii

at the yin chu monastery on yin chu mountain
tao hong jing lived and prepared his elixir of life there
his youthful character raged as he scaled those heights
but in the seclusion of the mountain his heart found peace

no one knows how old he was
nor did he wear a solemn face
since i left yin zhu mountain

many years have passed bringing much change
but i know the exact place where i used to live

as we now separate i say to all of you
do not stint yourself in these festivities
i know in advance how you love to entertain guests
i trust it will be soon enough you host me again

iii

peach blossoms swim in all the waters from shi men mountain
houses of the people who live there come from the qin dynasty
i do not know how they breed so many chickens and pigs
i also saw many mulberry trees and wide fields of flax

suddenly i was far away from the world and its affairs
if only i could fly away on a crane or phoenix to get there again
why should i always be in friendly conversation with literati
why should i spend my life amassing a huge fortune

i now bow to you as i take my leave
i will keep you all in my thoughts
as when clouds dissipate and the rain stops
we will separate ourselves from each other

if you would wish to know the state of my heart
it is broken from the pain of our parting
the image which comes unbidden to my mind
swaying willow threads on a spring evening

murphy the after dinner speaker par excellence

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-05

written in the hinterlands

the wine of the lan ling mountains smells of turmeric
when it is served in a jade cup it gleams like amber
if only the host could bring enough to make me drunk
i might forget i am in this place that is not home

murphy sleeping in a stranger’s bed

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-06

early fall in tai yuan

in autumn all the fragrant flowers wither away
it is the time when the fire star sinks in the sky
severe frost comes early beyond the northern border
while dark clouds gather over the huang he
my dreams are always of the moonlit city of tai yuan
my heart flies to my house in the old country by the border
i am continuously thinking of my homeland there
where the fen river flows steadily through the city
there is simply never a day without such thoughts

murphy a young boy fishing the waters of the colorado river in austin

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-07

written as i travel on the river (1 of 5)

su wu situates himself on the tian mountain
tian heng lives on an island in the eastern sea
ten thousand obstacles keep them from their homeland
what year will they finally be able to return

murphy understanding history was the current time in the past

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-08

written as i travel on the river (2 of 5)

you ask where cui yin has gone, back to his home
li ling surrendered to the barbarians and has not returned
the sorrowful face of cui is turned toward the first light of dawn
the short clothes of li have been replaced by tatar’s clothes

murphy describing the fate of his friends in viet nam

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-9

written as i travel on the river (3 of 5)

with the ease of familiar conversation i might have been able
to retreat with the great army of qin as did lu zhong lian
but unfortunately i had no way to initiate such
i have no friendly intercourse with the seven nobles of the kingdom

but i do have one arrow left in my quiver to use
i can yet write to lu zhong lian displaying my skills

murphy worrying over the wording in his resume’

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-10

written as i travel on the river (4 of 5)

han gu guan pass is to me what yu men guan was for general pan chao
and i also ask myself whether i will be able to return alive to china
the enemy has advanced so far the lo river replaces the yi as the border
and the giant mountain song replaces yan shan as the great divider

the language of the people in he nan has reverted to the barbarian tongue
and the people one sees on the roads have the look of the desert tribes
i can only give myself over to tears as once did shen bao xu
lamenting the gray hair which has come to my temples these last seven days

murphy in a tight spot at exactly the wrong time

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-11

written as i travel on the river (5 of 5)

i look out on the waters of the large lake
and note the long blue-green leaves on the reeds
where can the yearning heart find the peace of its true home
not here as the sun sinks to the west of the great stream

i let my horse forage on the lush spring grass
before i start again fearing i will not return
how can i endure the beguiling call of the cuckoo
which continuously calls out to me in my torment

murphy alone with his thoughts of failure

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-12

autumn thoughts on the river flowing below jing men mountain

since i came to live in ying men as a stranger
three new moons have risen in the land of ba
the north wind shakes the leaves from the trees
this wanderer is filled with doubt about his return

the sun is infinitely high above the mountains
the heavens are infinitely wide over the great stream
bemused i gaze out over the vast waters of dong ting lake
wild geese fly through mist rising over the xiao and xiang rivers

this freedom of nature ignites my old love for solitude
but throughout my years i have become worse and worse off
constantly on the move, filled with wanderlust
never taking advantage of ongoing changes around me

in vain i visited the grave of the emperor shun in cang wu
on vain i tried to reach the islands of the immortals
now i hear the sea around peng lai is too shallow to sail upon
i will never see the peaches which form only once every 3000 years

leaning on my sword i give way to deep sighs of sadness
clutching my breast i find only pity for myself
finally i decide to go to the five lake region
there to wash my feet in the cang lang river

murphy always moving and never reaching a place of rest

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-13

i come to the ya lan post office and climb mold cliff there: dedicated to censor pei

since ancient times the rocks here have been crookedly piled about
and just across the river rises the famed mold cliff
the water swirls with the speed of lightning there
shining drops fall from the rudder like glistening pearls

near the post office you, censor pei, have erected your red tent
i meet you there, you dressed in your embroidered uniform
but friends need not be leery of a horse when they visit you
you stand not on the high dignity of your office in welcoming them

murphy checking in with the powers that be, just in case

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-14

traveling by boat near jing men on the river shu

spring waters pour down from the moon canyon
flowing with the current i look ahead as far as the eyes can see
the ice has thawed in the mountains and the rivers have swelled
the color of the water here is the same as that of the jin stream

the massive volume of water is green and the surface glistens
it seems to disappear into the blue of the sky on the horizon
windings of the stream disappear behind me in the mountains
the clouds over the land of chu float aimlessly overhead

a flock of wild geese on the sandbank shine like snow in the sun
an oriole looks like a flying flower fleeing the valley
another fragrant island appears ahead of my craft
its green trees and lush vegetation seem to welcome me

wherever i look in the evening a light fog has begun to rise
i hoist the sail while the moon reflects on the waters
i can see the lights of jiang ling off in the distance
i will soon arrive in the city of the palace of zhu

murphy with restless feet which drive him ever onward

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-15

traveling upstream on the yang zi through the three gorges

the witch mountains reach for the sky
their bases narrowing the flow of water
the end of the three gorges area is almost here
but the blue heavens can never be reached

for three days we traveled past the brown cattle mountains
and we moved very slowly through these three nights
the real and apparent dangers of this part of the trip
has caused the hair on my temples to suddenly turn white

murphy wondering how he ever survived the wildness of his youth

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-16

going by boat to ba dong through the ju tang gorge i stop to climb to the highest point of wu mountain. returning in the evening i write this verse on the wall

how many thousands of miles have i travelled on rivers
the moon rising from the sea today has become full once more
today we were passing through the ju tang gorge
i took the opportunity and climbed to the top of wu mountain

the wu mountain is exceptionally high
when i was there i could see the whole kingdom of ba
i felt i was near the sun as i held onto the hanging ivy
i was next to the red morning clouds by a mighty rock

i had hurried to the top of the mountain
looking back i was surprised there was no mist
i could not discern the red valley below me
but looking up i felt close to the blue sky

the sky seems really within my reach up here
perhaps this is where the milky way disappears
i notice a cloud in the distance above cang wu’s gravesite
in the distance i can see the white water surface of the sea

i walk around the peak until the sun goes down
everywhere i look i find interesting things
accumulated snow streaks down into desolate valleys
the wind sounds plaintive rustling through thick trees

when i start home it is almost dark
yet i still look around seeking beauty
on the banks of the river shrill cries of monkeys
behind the dark pines the moon has already risen

how endless is the reach of its especial light
the sounds of the monkeys echo through the night
i leave the mountain so i cannot hear those cries
i swing my whip and ride quickly back to the boat

murphy always up for a detour to see something special

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-17

in the morning i leave the fortress bo di cheng

i leave fortress bo di cheng in the morning
it is still wrapped in the colorful clouds of dawn
one day i shall return to this famous place
but now i go a thousand miles away to jiang ling

there are incessant cries from both banks of the river
it is the monkeys making their melancholy noise
i am traveling as usual in my small light boat
and am now passing by mountain after mountain

murphy always on the move but promising to come back someday

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-18

in the fall i travel downstream past jing men

frost has transformed jing men
trees are bare on both banks of the stream
but my canvas sails are not harmed
the autumn winds have caused no damage

i take this trip not for the usual reason
to feast on the hacked perch of giang su
but because i am attracted to the mountains
so i am wending my way to shan xian

murphy on the road to somewhere for no obvious reason

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-19

traveling on the river i send these lines to a special friend

i travel to the countries of wu and chu on a hollowed tree trunk
this unusual craft is over 100 feet long and quite dangerous
but there is a strong wind blowing on the sails
and this evening i will be a thousand miles on my way

the farewell wine is still not completely drunk up
and already i am a guest in a foreign country
though i am lonely without your presence here with me
i can ease my grief by staring at the rippling green waters

murphy writing his thank you notes as a dutiful giftee

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-20

staying at the foot of mount wu song in the house of old woman xun

i am staying overnight at the foot of mount wu song
the place offering nothing for me to enjoy myself
in the fall the local people are all hard at work
even the young women as they shuck rice each night

the old woman kneels before me with a simple millet dish
the white bowl enhanced in the light of the moon
han xin once was made to feel guilt by such hospitality
three times i thank her and then cannot eat from shame

murphy preferring the company of common people

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-21

i travel on the ling yang stream down to the se tan cliffs

the current is fierce near the se tan cliffs
the mountains on both shores filled with monkeys
the white caps resemble a convolute field of snow
the sharp rocks threaten boats from passing

fishermen and sailors fear this dangerous place
here many boats have been stove in and sunk

murphy attracted to danger but then made more than careful

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-22

i travel down the ling yang river and come along the banks of the gao river past the rocks of the “three gates” and “six spines”

the rocks of the “three gates” are indeed formidable
the waves crash as they rush past the “six spines”
the cliffs looking down are frightened by the spectacle
as if a crouching tiger had pounced and buffeted the shore

the current here forms a swirling vortex of motion
as if a huge dragon swam in a tight circle
these rocks are as awesome as those of qi li lai
strangely enough i have a desire to fish these waters

murphy taking photos to prove he was there

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-23

in the evening i anchor near huang mountain and listen to yin, 14th of his clan, sing songs of the kingdom of wu

who sang last night the songs of the land of wu gui
as the wind rose and blew through the leafless forest
alarmed dragons no longer dared to sleep in the waters
monkeys screamed at the sound from the foot of the cliffs

i listened, watching the moon shine on the green waters
suddenly the plucking of a pipa came from the pines
only at dawn did i learn the singer was a hermit on the shore
i bought wine and fruit and we ate the ripe pears of autumn

when he was half drunk he sang some of his new songs
music like waves of the yang zi rushing to the sea
suddenly as i gazed into the cup of wine before me
i felt the great sorrow of living in a foreign land

murphy homesick even fifty years after leaving his texas home

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-24

overnight on xia hu lake

at cock crow i sail away from huang mountain
by evening i reach xia hu lake and anchor overnight
rain sparkles as it falls onto the chilly mountains
it resembles thin silvery bamboo in the wind

i have with me my lead holder for collecting magic herbs
but first i go swimming among the lotus along the shore
at midnight the heavens sparkle in all four directions
and the milky way stretches limitless before our eyes

tomorrow i am going to the da lou mountain
with its many hills and valleys to explore in depth
but first i will climb to the heights before me
with a woodcutter who fells the trees in the clouds

murphy always up for searching for sacred crystals

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-25

the beautiful xi shi

xi shi was from the yue xi river region near zhu luo mountain
her beauty outshone all others, even lotus flowers were put to shame
she washed her silks in the yue xi and valued its clear waters
she was rarely seen to smile there as she sat at sunset deep in thought

gou jian, king of yue, scoured his country for beautiful women
he chose xi shi as she was the outstanding beauty from all of wu
she was immediately taken to his palace and was seen by no others
and was never heard of again as the wu empire of fu cha was destroyed

murphy wondering how marilyn monroe would have fared without her movie career

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-26

general wang xi zhi

in this dusty world general wang was an honest man
he exemplified truth and purity in his behavior
once he met a daoist priest in shan yin xian
who convinced him that he knew who swans loved

then and there wang prepared a piece of white silk for a book
and copied the work of lao zi in his wonderful calligraphy
after he finished the book he took the swans away in a cage
but why did this great man take them away from their owner

murphy insisting he has ever eschewed the concept of ownership

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-27

the pixie shang yuan

shang yuan was a favorite of the fairy queen xi wang mu
she sported three tall chignons with loose hair falling to her hips
she wore as mantle a brocade trimmed with blue fur
with a close fitting red undergarment that glittered

she led by the hand nong yu, the daughter of duke mu of qin
she played the flute in harmony with the singing phoenix
their eyes met and sparkled with the glee of friendship
then suddenly they floated away upon the wind

murphy still believing in leprechauns

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-28

from the gu su balcony in su zhou i gaze on the ruins of the past

i look down on the old park by the dilapidated balcony
the meadows below are filled with fresh flowers
i hear the sad songs of the pickers of water chestnuts
but am overwhelmed by the glory of this spring

all that remains from the past is the moon
it is now high in the sky west of the river
it is the same moon which was watched before
by beautiful women in the king of wu’s long-gone palace

murphy aware of the vicissitudes of deep time

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-29

i look at the ruins of the old capital in yue

once gou jian, king of yue, had destroyed the kingdom of wu
his brave warriors returned home resplendent in their brocade
the king’s harem filled his castle with the spring glory of bloom
now one only sees a few turtle doves flit here and there

murphy aware of how easy it is to lose it all

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-30

the four old men of shang mountain

four white headed old men were proud
they lived on the shoulders of mount shang
world weary they rested under the pine and the clouds
unable to be found in their dark seclusion

their location was high near the blue of the sky
they built upon a rock in the middle of a green forest
the dragon and the tiger fought for supremacy
and these old men retired from the fray

when the qin empire began to ignore the dao
han gao zu ascended to the purple throne
a beautiful rainbow appeared and darkened the sun
and the crown prince all but sank into oblivion

the four old men helped the emperor at this time
and the crown prince grew wings and rose up again
then, though the four old men had engineered success,
on their own initiative they decided to leave the capital

they retreated into the anonymity of daoist darkness
their whereabouts hidden so they could never be found
the glory they left behind filled the entire heavens
and ever since then they have been especially revered

murphy knowing when to leave the gambling table

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-31

i happen upon the graves of the four old men

i wandered between the mountain and the shang lo river
lonely, i was looking for ghosts and immortals
where did the four old men come to final rest
only dense undergrowth would be there now

the gemstone source they used to make the elixir of life
has now been obscured under the trampling of many years
over the cold mounds is only the forlorn moon
while the pine trees have gradually become bald

the sound of the wind is the forest demon’s moan
the rain is the giant mountain goblin’s splash
the song of the purple mushroom has faded away
it is truly tragic that the four old men are now underground

murphy having long ago lost faith in alchemy

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-32

contemplating the past on xian mountain

to think about the past i climb xian mountain
from its top i look down on xiang yang
the air is clear and the distant mountain tops gleam
with little water in the river the cold sands dry in the wind

i think of the mermaids of zheng jiao fu playing with pearls
i remember jian shan intoxicated with strong wine
full of emotion i loose my autumn thoughts
to rush through the tall pines like the night wind

murphy always ready to tear up with feeling

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-33

general su wu

general su wu was held captive by the barbarians
during this time he still held his position as commander
once a white goose flew over the imperial hunting park
he had brought a letter to deliver from su wu

for ten long years the general was made to herd sheep
he was miserable and finally gave up his hope of return
when thirsty he drank water in the moon caves of the west
when hungry he ate the snow of the tian shan mountains

the way to return was too long and he was moved to tears
weeping he held general li ling’s robe and his tears turned to blood

murphy empathetic and always moved by the plights of others

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-34

as i cross over the yi bridge, i remember the fate of zhang liang

when zhang liang was young and not yet a minister
he wasted his property without regard to his family
he met an athlete on the shore of the great sea
they went to bo lang sha to kill emperor qin shi huang

their attempt failed and he could not avenge his country
but a great excitement rose up throughout the world
to hide and save himself he went to xia pi
can it not be said he was foolishly brave

here on the yi bridge i think on those past events
and am full of admiration for the heroism of zhang liang
below me there is only the green waters of the river yi
not any trace of huang shi gong can be seen here

i sigh because zhang liang has disappeared and will not return
leaving xu zhou and si zhou deserted and without a champion

murphy a great believer in lost causes

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-35

nan jing (1 of 3)

in the old days of the jin dynasty on the yang zi
nan jing was a residential town like old chang an
emperors and kings lived protected there
behind crouching tiger and sinuous dragon mountains

now the city is only a beautiful landscape by the yang zi
it serves no longer as the natural defense to the north
i am an intoxicated guest leaving nan jing in a rowboat
and i sing a song of wu to cheer me on my way

murphy inevitably in his cups

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-36

nan jing (2 of 3)

nan jing has a superb location for a city
the great river meanders around and through it
at one time it possessed many fine homes
and rose red palaces lined its wide streets

then when the empires of the six dynasties perished
spring grass grew among its ruins and the palaces disappeared
there remained only the moon above xuan wu lake
whose rays danced on the waves clear to the islands of the blessed

murphy remembering old marble falls back on the colorado river

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-37

nan jing (3 of 3)

the empires of the six dynasty flourished and then collapsed
after another three cups i will sing a song of their time
there were only a few large gardens, not like in chang an
but then there were the beautiful mountains like in lo yang

once there was rich vegetation surrounding the ancient palaces of wu
in the vast harems of the jin dynasty young girls swirled in silken dance
all of this disappeared in the unstoppable course of history
much like the waves of the mighty yang zi hastening to the east

murphy an hegelian historian at heart

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-38

sailing near ban qiao pu on a moonlit autumn night, alone and drinking i think of the poet xie tiao

i see in the sky the glittering constellation you sheng
hanging over nan jing and pointing toward the palace in chang an
the milky way is its age-old white silk ribbon in the sky
in the moonlight the autumnal stream runs clear

rolling waves glide through the water as the moon goes down
the many islands seem frozen in the cold of morning
as i sail alone in my boat near ban qiao pu
who from my past would i invite along

though i can no longer talk with the poet xie tiao
i raise my cup to him in my lonely discontent

murphy more friendly with dead poets than live ones

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-39

i visit peng li lake

xie ling yun sailed into the peng li lake
he was visiting song men mountain
i have just come up to the “mirror stone”
as i also seek to explore the great river

the places xie ling yun described are still here
as he described for all visitors who followed him
i also seek to continue in the poetic tradition of xie
and by such effort refresh my sensibilities

the sea of clouds above serve as inspiration
as well the deep stillness of the waters of the lake
i think of the distant moon over the green mountains
as the cries of the monkeys bring melancholy

water pearls mentioned in xie’s poems can still be found
but the mystery of his “white gold ointment” remains unexplained
how i want to don appropriate garments to fly into the heavens
to escape the chaotic noise of this dusty world

murphy always believing in an edenic place to flee to

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-40

the wife of the prefect of lu jiang fu

when the peacock flies to the east where does he rest
once the wife of the petty official jiao zhongqing of lu jiang
was, after her divorce, forced to marry a stranger
but fearing this leaped into the river and drowned

you, zhong qing witnessed this for yourself
now you sit along at night crying for your lost companion

murphy glad his cherokee people value women highly

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-41

with under-censor song i spend the night in wu chang remembering the distant past

with favorable weather we settle in the south tower
it offers elegant entertainment here in wu chang
i think back to you liang who also loved the autumn moonlight
and who also sat here on a bench inspired by the beautiful landscape

from the bank of the cold stream comes the sound of a dragon flute
under the glitter of the milky way the morning frost appears
and despite dawn’s arrival my concerned feelings remain
i finish my wine thinking of the similarity of the distant past

murphy building the ceremonial fire as it was always done

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-42

gazing on parrot island i think of ni heng

cao cao, emperor of wei, sought to subjugate the whole world
he considered ni heng to be nothing more substantial than an ant
huang zi, governor of jiang xia was not a wise, far seeing, man
his place in history is stained by his murder of ni heng

on the banks of the wu river ni heng wrote his famous ying wu fu
his brush created poetry surpassing that of all others of his time
the words of the poem sounding the tones of bronze and jade
verses seeming to soar as if lilting voices of the birds

then the notorious bird of prey crushed this lonely phoenix
though nearly a thousand years have passed since then
my heart harbors a bitterness as high as the five great mountains
its pain knows no end, how could it ever be calmed again

today is for me a legacy of ni’s enormous talent
unfortunately he fell into the low hands of the murderer
even now no orchids grow on parrot island which holds his grave
they could never bear the pain of his monstrous fate

murphy considering stalin’s obliteration of the poet osip mandelstam

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-43

stopping overnight at the foot of wu mountain

i spent last night at the foot of wu mountain
while drawn out cries of the monkeys penetrated my dreams
peach blossoms fell on the clear waters as they do in si chuan
swimming through the ju tang gorge in the third month

rain clouds scudded south in the gusty winds
as if they were hurrying to meet the king of chu
passing gao qiu mountain i remembered the poet you song gao
and this memory of long ago brought forth hot tears

murphy hypersensitive to everchanging nature

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-44

the bo yang crossing at nan king

the northern part of the bo yang crossing
is bordered on both sides by the chao gou channel
here we no longer see people of the eastern wu
but only grass growing over grave sites

in this world revolutions bring down palaces and cities
from the time of the six dynasties only graves remain
where the old people wept are crumbling ruins
with only loggers and grass mowers to be seen

murphy fully aware of the ravages of deep time

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-45

on the pavilion of the poet xie tiao

this is the place where xie tiao took leave of us
nature here communicates sad feelings in all seasons
the guests have left and i am alone with the moon
under a deep dark sky next to a clear mountain stream

every spring here the lotus flowers glisten in the sun
every fall the night winds smack the bamboo against the windows
so it has always been and links the present with the past
i am reminded of the old songs of men who used to wander here

murphy soaking up the vibes of an historic place

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-46

i write these verses on wu song mountain in nan ling

a wise man knows when to step up and when to step back
he knows to shade his brilliance and minimize his weaknesses
it is like the fish who live in the stream with the dragon
they are surprised only when the dragon begins to fly

there was a time when yue fu was a mason among masons
who among them truly understood their colleague fu yue
one day he became a minister for the princes of the yin
after his death his brilliant mind was acknowledged by all

yi yin was born in the hollow of a mulberry tree
he was a cook but left that job to help emperor cheng tang
he banished his grandchild tai jia to the palace tong gong for malfeasance
and firmly led the government without being intimidated

after three years tai jia changed for the better and was returned to power
yi yin then helped tai jia with the full force of his character until his death
how sublime was the disposition of fu yue and yi yin
they will serve as role models for official conduct for all time

suppose one lived in an unfavorable time such as now
would confucius himself have found a way to make a difference
where the phoenix nest has been overturned
one will never be able to find the unicorn qi lin

gui mountain prevented confucius from visiting the kingdom of lu
he did have a hatchet but his lack of a handle meant he couldn’t use it
if i were in such a quandry, i would like confucius return home
so tonight i turn my boat around and cross the high waves

murphy returning to teaching after a successful leadership role

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-47

anchored at night below cattle mountain, i think of the distant past

tonight i anchor below cattle mountain on the western stream
the deep dark sky is bereft of even the smallest clouds
i gaze from the superstructure of the ship up to the bright full moon
the only thought which comes is to remember general xie shang

then i begin to sing my songs in a loud voice as once did yuan hong
though i can never compare my life with such a remarkable talent
early tomorrow morning the sails will be set and i will continue on
autumn has painted the country and both banks are ablaze with maple

murphy always thinking to compare himself with his idols

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-48

ten songs about gu shu (1 of 10)

gu shu river

i love boating on the smooth gu shu
drifting downstream brings a boundless joy
i move the rudder and frighten the gulls
then i bait my hook and wait for the fish to bite

the quiet surface catches the first light of dawn
spring colors of the mountain stain the calm waters
the girl washing silk by the bank, where does she live
i haven’t seen her beautiful face here before

murphy returning to where he caught a big one

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-49

ten songs about gu shu (2 of 10)

dan yang lake

the lake seems to extend forever, to connect with the sky
as a storm brings continuous waves to crash against the boat
merchant ships appear, coming this way from the distant horizon
the sailors guiding their boats here as if from the distant clouds

later i see turtles near the bank on the lotus leaves
birds return to their place among the reed flowers
young women begin to harvest roots from light rowing boats
their songs rhythm like the waves on the lake

murphy floating along drinking his guiness

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-50

ten songs about gu shu (3 of 10)

the old house of the poet xie tiao

i imagine the sun dying behind the green mountains
where the old house of the poet xie tiao stands alone
no human voice is heard in the surrounding bamboo
the moonlight gleaming on the pond not seen

the abandoned farm sits in a sea of withered grass
the ruined fountain covered with a blue green moss
a fresh wind finds the leisure to rise from the rocks
where springs still feed small rills running to the sea

murphy alone in the woods of his imagination

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-51

ten songs about gu shu (4 of 10)

the ling xiao balcony

i climb to the old balcony to admire the view
its height allows one to see clearly into the distance
i am bemused by the chaotic jumble of the far mountains
as well as the riot of flowers surrounding the structure

slowly drifting clouds ease by the window
below lie green stretches of bamboo and pine
i wish to read the inscription on a stone tablet
but it is overgrown by moss obscuring its meaning

murphy baffled by relics of the distant past

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-52

ten songs about gu shu (5 of 10)

the fountain of huan wen

the famous huan wen died a very long time ago
but the dilapidated fountain he dug is still not dry
his mossy stone balustrade is cool to the touch
the lonely moon reflects from the chilly spring

when autumn comes the leaves of the mallow will fall
when spring returns peach trees will bloom again
the way here is very far and few people come to visit
thus few experience the transparence of its pure water

murphy obsessed with visiting far-away places

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-53

ten songs about gu shu (6 of 10)

the stand of bamboo on zi mu mountain

wild bamboo flourishes here among the rocks
the stalks poking through the island mist
its green colors diving into the waves
hollow stems rattling in the morning breeze

carved into flutes it produces dragon tones
made into panpipes it sings the phoenix song
the bamboo does not wither like the willow
its chaste white heart remains steadfast

murphy coaxing tones from a shakuhachi

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-54

ten songs about gu shu (7 of 10)

wistful wife mountain

rising high in the sky, full of deference for her husband
her heart is full of pain due to the long separation
the grass on the riverbank knows nothing of her grief
the flowers blossoming among the rocks know only themselves

many high mountains separate the husband and wife
no messages can travel the thousand miles between
spring comes and goes, then summer, then autumn
when will this circle of longing ever come to an end

murphy repeating old folk tales

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-55

ten songs about gu shu (8 of 10)

the niu zhu cliffs

sheer rough cliffs rise above the great yang zi
the peaks seem to lean back over the waters
a chaos of rocks rises from the maelstrom
swirling waters froth into high waves without a wind

i am surprised by the beauty of the rocks and the trees
and see nothing of demons said to live deep in the water
later in the night i hear the cries of the monkeys
making my heart become drunk with grief

murphy always in tune with the wildness of nature

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-56

ten songs about gu shu (9 of 10)

the ling xu mountain

when ding ling wei left the people of this world
he shook the dust from his clothes, became an immortal
in secrecy he had prepared the elixir of life
and rose to the heavens on a five colored cloud

spruce and ivy now shelter his cave on the mountain
peach and apricot trees hidden from view in his hermitage
i do not know if he has ever turned back into a crane
nor how many times he has returned to liao hai

murphy repeating legend as if it were true

 

 

 

 

li bai xxii-57

ten songs about gu shu (10 of 10)

the tian min mountain

this mountain rises high above the river
its two parts a natural gate for the waters
both banks receive the shade of its green pines
the rocks at the feet spray their crashing waves

looking back from afar they appear unequal in height
they seem to blur behind the red evening clouds
it is sunset and they are far, far behind my boat
my last look see them disappear into darkening clouds

murphy ever in the moment and its beauty

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “murphy’s li tai bo von zach XXII

  1. Pingback: Angela Vanlods

    • thank you. are you interested in chinese poetry translated into english? i am currently working through han yu. i noticed you looked at my li tae bo efforts. i also did du fu, bai ju yi, ruan ji, and some han shan in the sub-directories of poetry/chinese translations.

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