murphy’s du fu von zach XI

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


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

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

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

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

murphy nursing his head from the night before

von zach XI,1


the homecoming

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

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

murphy finding his final roost

von zach XI,2


away from my straw hut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

murphy returning to his work after too long a vacation

von zach XI,3


the four pines beside my straw hut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

murphy drowning in his books

von zach XI,4


the river weir

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

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

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

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

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

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

von zach XI,5


the useless boat

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

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

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

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

murphy walking far to maintain vigor in his old age

von zach XI,6


six quatrains (1 of 6)

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

murphy relaxed within the cocoon of his physicality

von zach XI,7


six quatrains (2 of 6)

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

murphy getting up to refill his cup with sake‘

von zach XI,8


six quatrains (3 of 6)

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

murphy writing out his shopping list for the gourmet store

von zach XI,9


six quatrains (4 of 6)

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

murphy replete with the growing warmth of late spring

von zach XI,10


six quatrains (5 of 6)

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

murphy nuking the leftovers for lunch

von zach XI,11


six quatrains (6 of 6)

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

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

von zach XI,12


about my peaches

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

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

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

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

murphy setting up the table to play dominoes

von zach XI,13


at the gate-turn-off from cheng du fu

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

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

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

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

murphy seditious but quietly so

von zach XI,14


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