murphy’s li tai bo von zach XXIV

xxiv-01 autumn thoughts in yue zhou
xxiv-02 in emulation of the poetry of old (1 of 2)
xxiv-03 in emulation of the poetry of old (2 of 2)
xxiv-04 in emulation of the poetry of old (1 of 12)
xxiv-05 in emulation of the poetry of old (2 of 12)
xxiv-06 in emulation of the poetry of old (3 of 12)
xxiv-07 in emulation of the poetry of old (4 of 12)
xxiv-08 in emulation of the poetry of old (5 of 12)
xxiv-09 in emulation of the poetry of old (6 of 12)
xxiv-10 in emulation of the poetry of old (7 of 12)
xxiv-11 in emulation of the poetry of old (8 of 12)
xxiv-12 in emulation of the poetry of old (9 of 12)
xxiv-13 in emulation of the poetry of old (10 of 12)
xxiv-14 in emulation of the poetry of old (11 of 12)
xxiv-15 in emulation of the poetry of old (12 of 12)
xxiv-16 written while inspired (1 of 8)
xxiv-17 written while inspired (2 of 8)
xxiv-18 written while inspired (3 of 8)
xxiv-19 written while inspired (4 of 8)
xxiv-20 written while inspired (5 of 8)
xxiv-21 written while inspired (6 of 8)
xxiv-22 written while inspired (7 of 8)
xxiv-23 written while inspired (8 of 8)
xxiv-24 allegories (1 of 3)
xxiv-25 allegories (2 of 3)
xxiv-26 allegories (3 of 3)
xxiv-27 autumn thoughts, evening, in an inn
xxiv-28 allegorical rendering of my feelings (1 of 4)
xxiv-29 allegorical rendering of my feelings (2 of 4)
xxiv-30 allegorical rendering of my feelings (3 of 4)
xxiv-31 allegorical rendering of my feelings (4 of 4)
xxiv-32 reading in the han lin academy, i am moved to write this poem
xxiv-33 in the zi ji gong daoist monastery, i write these lines about the autumn landscape
xxiv-34 autumn thoughts ont he banks of the yang zi
xxiv-35 on an autumn evening writing down my felings
xxiv-36 i climb to the heights on si kong mountain in an hui and write my feelings
xxiv-37 from the prison at xun yang i send this poem regarding the “one hundred concerns” of minister cui huan
xxiv-38 words of deep sorrow, sent to vice-president wei
xxiv-39 during the time of the rebellion in jing zhou, i record my feelings on the shores of lake dong ting
xxiv-40 looking into a mirror, i express my feelings
xxiv-41 out in the fields, i express my feelings
xxiv-42 thoughts of spring, south of grand river
xxiv-43 i listen as buddhist priest xun from si chuan plays his flute
xxiv-44 at the east gate of lu cheng, contemplating reeds
xxiv-45 i sing under the japanese pomegranate tree of my neighbor
xxiv-46 the spruce in front of the north window
xxiv-47 i sing the praises of a wooden cup (1 of 2)
xxiv-48 i sing the praises of a wooden cup (2 of 2)
xxiv-49 after leaving the imperial palace in disgrace i visit censor wang, but not to see him at home but to sing to his parrot whose cage hangs on the wall
xxiv-50 the purple rattan
xxiv-51 i watch the handling of the white falcon (1 of 2)
xxiv-52 i watch the handling of the white falcon (2 of 2)
xxiv-53 i view the the landscape painting on the wal of the house of wang zhi an, under-district judge of bo ping
xxiv-54 i write these lines on the stove while the elixir of life is prepared at the home of district judge cui of yong jiu
xxiv-55 i view the image of the wu shan gorge on the painted screen of dan yuan qiu
xxiv-56 i ask the mountain hermit cui about his painting of the waterfall on the wall at bo zhang
xxiv-57 in the midst of wild grasses i find the “white-haired elder”
xxiv-58 exiled to ye lang i write this verse on mallow paper
xxiv-59 i view the sea-view painting in the hermitage of the monk ying yi
xxiv-60 the white heron
xxiv-61 i sing the praises of the hibiscus flower (1 of 2)
xxiv-62 i sing the praises of the hibiscus flower (2 of 2)
xxiv-63 white walnuts
xxiv-64 the wide screen with the image of the wu mountains
xxiv-65 on my flight to the south i write down my feelings





li bai xxiv-01

autumn thoughts in yue zhou

the waters of yue flow from the emerald green mountains
the streams flow for over a thousand miles winding around
here they pool and form a mirror reflecting the mountains
it is as if a painting were made with a master’s hand

i love this area and am always looking for more remarkable scenes
for all my future i will remember being changed standing on this shore
since i first wandered the banks of this blue watered river
i have been here ten times watching the red lotuses wither

changing waters of qian tang zhiang reveal the workings of heaven
looking out to sea brings a sorrow of not reaching the island of the blessed
for it is a long way to travel to the west to catch the fast falling sun
when one grows old one bemoans the eastward flowing waves of the sea

why should i bother to visit the cave where emperor you is entombed
surely one would much rather go to the blessed island peng lai
since this is not now possible i wish to travel to the area of the five lakes
where i can cruise around on a small boat as once did the famous fan li

murphy always on the move looking for perfection





li bai xxiv-02

in emulation of the poetry of old (1 of 2)

an early morning entrance to the park of the forbidden city
i have an audience before the emperor in da ming palace
green mountains lie opposite the palanquin of the ruler
green trees sway in the winds below the misty heavens

my unworthy name is in the register at the golden entry gate
so i and other officials pass the yin tai gate of da ming palace
in my capacity as a han lin academician i serve my exalted ruler
my brush thick with a praise song of the emperor as pure wind

when i leave the palace it has already become late in the day
my spirited steed is brought round as i make ready to leave
my horse and i have found no joy within the forbidden city
so we break into a gallop in our haste to return home

i walk into the courtyard and everywhere purple mandarin ducks
next to the bronze bedecked balustrade are two mallow trees
there i play one of my favorite old songs on my pipa
i drink from the wonderful wine i purchased back in xin feng

i desire nothing now but to be happy and entertain myself
so i decide to host a party for all my friends to share with me
time will never stop for anyone in this world we live in
we are all nothing more than thistledown whirling in the wind

in youth one is told things become better in old age
i would be ashamed if you saw me as an old fisherman

murphy stretching for the golden ring on the merry-go-round

7/24/2014 11:02 AM





li bai xxiv-03

in emulation of the poetry of old (2 of 2)

beautiful women have been with us since ancient times
women such as xi shi and the maiden mei ren fu
no woman could ever match them for their beauty
how could anyone ugly hope to imitate their frown

thus the maid of honor named yin was ashamed
hung her head when she saw the famous beautiful xing
looking down she held her breath in silence
it was as if she had been deprived of her spirit

i would fain let the ugly wu yen nu know for sure
that a girl such as she is completely worthless

murphy vindictive in his old age





li bai xxiv-04

in emulation of the poetry of old (1 of 12)

the dark sky glitters as a mosaic
the bright stars glowing white stones
cowherd and weaver constellations converge
a short walk is all that divides the two

yet it’s not the time of the magpie bridge of connection
how could these two manage to come together now
the woman in her room weaves her white silk fabric
her husband off to war complains of the rigors of his service

the wife sees the ice of winter on the water of her pitcher
frost and dew must also beset her husband in the foreign land
her traveling man wandering as a dead leaf in autumn
he has no home there and cannot say when he will ever return

since he left she has grown lean, her silk belt now too long
in her grief she still wears the now limp garments of their parting
yet she speaks to the transcendent power of the shining moon
to send her dreams of longing to her husband in the far north

murphy in despair at learning there are 42 wars being fought around the world today





li bai xxiv-05

in emulation of the poetry of old (2 of 12)

a high tower reaches up toward heaven
below lies a hall made of white jade
the bright moon hovers before its setting
its pure shine yet enters the window

on this night a lovely woman appears
her silk gauze garments soaked by the autumn frost
her delicate sounds carry her deep feelings
she sings of the mulberry tree wet by the rain

powerful her voice, but, oh, the sound of the strings
the winds carry them up into the high beams above
people gather round the tower, listen, entranced
birds reawake to swoop a circling dance in the air

the beautiful woman wishes only to express her pain
and is heedless of how she affects any others
she seeks only a like minded soul to fly away with her
to fly away as a pair, purple mandarin ducks

murphy indulging himself in grief and remorse





li bai xxiv-06

in emulation of the poetry of old (3 of 12)

it is impossible to lasso the sun and stop its flight
all people have learned to regret this sad fact
even if one piled gold high enough to fill the big dipper
one could still not buy back the springtime of life

the struck flint sparks but shines only for a moment
such is the life of each and every man in this world
the present appears as merely a dream in its passing
the future we share is the death awaiting us all

so, despite my poverty, i spend my money on wine
wine and enough to share with all my neighbors
the existence of true immortals is uncertain
it is well to seek the satisfaction of inebriation





li bai xxiv-07

in emulation of the poetry of old (4 of 12)

in paradise emerald trees grow in an eternal spring
they glorify the jasper balcony of the immortals
by contrast i pick ordinary flowers, feasting on their beauty
then offer them to the immortal geniuses in the distance

the fragrant wind carries the purple petals away
straight on the path to fu sang where the sun rises
i am ashamed offering ordinary flowers to the immortals
yet trust the gift is valuable because of my heart’s devotion

in my longing for them let this gift become a smile
that will communicate directly my eternal love

murphy still holding out for a miracle





li bai xxiv-08

in emulation of the poetry of old (5 of 12)

today’s beautiful weather may not be here tomorrow
why should i grieve while spring winds laugh at me
i am xiao shi plucking my lute dreaming of phoenixes
i drink strong wine and feast on heaps of chopped fish

i would pay a thousand taels to better my playing
but it would only be for my amusement, nothing more
if i wish to know more of this world i could do so
emulate the two shus who left public life by the east gate

a fool is as immovable in his place as a brick or a boulder
a man of talent knows how to withdraw from officialdom
yet i sit here complaining about life for no real reason
a fish complaining about being left in a puddle along the road

murphy keeping his head down when the cold winds blow





li bai xxiv-09

in emulation of the poetry of old (6 of 12)

the future of our world seems to be a tragic one
the rebel wind from the north brings a whirling frost
winter months have brought an end to life’s vegetation
the dragon chariot of the emperor lies collapsed in the west

the tai bo star shines in the east, a comet is showing its ominous flare
the mandarin duck is not a bird of the south, why does it fly there now
people, once only hawks or dogs, are now counts and princes
from small springs come generals who fight at court for position

the constellation of the big dipper cannot be used as a vessel for wine
the constellation of the southern winnowing basket is useless for grain

murphy too insignificant to solve the problems of the state





li bai xxiv-10

in emulation of the poetry of old (7 of 12)

the ways of the world are steep and unclimbable as tai hang mountain
where can my back-rolling carriage find a safe place for me to prosper
all living things are subject to the evils of withering and decay
and nowhere can one expect ease or the barest hint of happiness

in the wide world lie many heaps of weathered, bleached old bones
whose souls are abandoned and have no one to sacrifice to them
one must strive to acquire a prestigious position while still young
we humans are not immortal like the gems of the kun lun mountains

the only thing we can hope to leave to carry on our worth is our name
and perhaps our portrait to grace the walls of the unicorn gallery

murphy only a minor member of the countless murphy clan





li bai xxiv-11

in emulation of the poetry of old (8 of 12)

it is as unlikely for a man to sweep up moonlight
as it is for him to describe a wanderer’s enduring sadness
a heavy dew has soaked through my clothes of autumn
fireflies flit in and around the fading foliage

the shivering cicada calls from the still green spruce
in his short life he knows not final death of his tree
perhaps the elixir of life does actually exist in this world
but we foolish men have yet to penetrate its secrets

everyone knows they cannot be a thousand years old
but are sad indeed when they, too early, leave this world
so all i wish for on this day is to disappear into this wine
and keep secret my hiding place for such drinking

murphy letting slip his mask of joie de vivre





li bai xxiv-12

in emulation of the poetry of old (9 of 12)

the living are passers-by, in this world, guests only
the dead are the men who are returned home
the world is at best a torment for most of us
from earliest records this world is thick with dust

moon rabbit stomps only in the tale of the elixir of life
the immortal fu sang tree of the east is become firewood
the bleached bones of the dead are steadily silent
the spruce knows nothing of coming or going of spring

the old leave only their rows of wisdom to the young
and never answer how to make short life permanent

murphy in winter aching from old wounds





li bai xxiv-13

in emulation of the poetry of old (10 of 12)

the genius has arrived back, riding a brilliant phoenix
returning from his cave high up in the kun lun mountains
since he left the dark depths of the eastern sea
have three times become shallow and then clear
but the peach blossom spring has been found only once

this genius brought with him an emerald cup for me
and a wond’rous lute carved from deep purple amethyst
the cup is for drinking wonderful wine
the lute is for sounds to soothe my heart

these two things are not from this world of ours
why should i compare them to mere gold or pearls
the sounds i play when i listen to the wind in the pines
the cup i raise to ask the moon to pull me across the sky

so wind and moon will always be my constant friends
but, oh how short the span of man’s life in this world

murphy taking advantage of the time he has left





li bai xxiv-14

in emulation of the poetry of old (11 of 12)

i walk the banks of the river searching the clear fall water
searching for perfection in a fresh lotus bloom
i find the one i want and splash a drop of water on it
the water balls up, moves, then penetrates and goes

the land of the immortals is hidden by colorful clouds
i wish to send this flower to vanish in the distant horizon
i think with longing of joining those old wise men, but i can’t
i look into the distance with sadness, cold wind blowing on me

murphy ever the amateur scientist marveling at the intricacies of the world





li bai xxiv-15

in emulation of the poetry of old (12 of 12)

long ago you wandered away and still wander farther
since you left i have not quit thinking of you, my helpmeet
the han river flows back here from where you have gone
you left me and your home behind, here in the chu mountains

i realize that our true desires in life are rarely satisfied
how then could i think we would spend our lives together

the swallow of yue flies as the sun rises from the sea
the wild goose of yan yearns for the clouds of the north
the longer we stay apart the more my body ages
i can no longer eat the food we shared, i always think of you

at sunset i know another night before another day will start
from the length of the dream i know you are far, far away
i am like a spurned wife trying to climb a high mountain
i am changed into stone for my man will never return

murphy born in the wrong place





li bai xxiv-16

written while inspired (1 of 8)

yao qi was the daughter of the lord of heaven
once before, her glorious being transformed into morning clouds
slowly swaying she entered far into the land of dreams
until she appeared in the chambers of duke huai of chu
his brocade blanket alive, liquified in the moonlight
his magnificent sleeping mat giving only his orchid scent

who will in the end accept such a story, it’s a vague myth
created and perpetuated in the gao tang fu by song yu

murphy rehearsing his scary cherokee stories





li bai xxiv-17

written while inspired (2 of 8)

on the banks of the lo river walked the water nymph fu fei
and then she floated away as dry snow wafted by the wind
she hurried further as a cloud lit white by the moon
the glint of the brilliant mist illuminating a fairy scene

the poet cao zhi offered her his gem studded waistband
but even though she seemed to love him, she turned away
a fragrant mist rose round her as a path to walk away on the waves
her robes trailing behind yet not wet by the waters

cao zhi invented this fantastical story as if it were real

if lo shen fu had written it the nymph would have come home with him
but such a lubricious ending would have certainly been offensive to official morality
and lo shen fu would have become the laughing stock of his world

murphy with a patently logical mind





li bai xxiv-18

written while inspired (3 of 8)

i tear off a piece of white silk to write a letter
i will send my feelings to my love a thousand li away

filled with longing i wait for a messenger to take it away
this year is ending, i am alone, no one has come to see me

the wild goose loves to follow the warmth of the sun
but even he will not come down to pick up my letter

i throw the letter deep down in my travel bag
where bookworms are not permitted to edit

i wonder whether throwing it into the river might be better
the waters would take it, it would not fall into the hands of others

i would not regret any strangers finding and reading it
but i fear it would only turn into the latest gossip

murphy learning the intricacies of how harsh the spotlight can be





li bai xxiv-19

written while inspired (4 of 8)

lotus flowers stand proudly above the green water
shining arrogant peach and plum hues bright in the sun
they were first animated in the dance of a spring wing
partaking fully in its joy in their beauty of bloom

are not these flowers comparable to elegance in women
their only fear how short the duration of their power
as the fire star streaks through the skies of autumn
the flowers wither and die, one by one by one

they do not know the longevity of the spruce
unchanging in its green for a thousand years

murphy hating the cold onset of winter





li bai xxiv-20

written while inspired (5 of 8)

for fifteen years i have wandered in the realm of immortal spirits
and have yet to find reason to interrupt my wandering
i have played my flute, singing with the wind through the pines
i have plucked my lute, gazing at the moon rise over the sea

the two jade tablets of the western mountains are my source
i learned from them how to transform my bones into gold
i wish to fly away now on the wings of the yellow crane
fly to the palace of immortals on the island of the blessed

murphy in full revival form





li bai xxiv-21

written while inspired (6 of 8)

a beautiful girl lives in the western kingdom
she built a house there, under the shadow of clouds

her beauty is that of the early morning moon
the briefest smile from her makes everyone happy

your highest priciple would not match her moral virtue
her heart catches the elixir of life gleaming in flesh

but women always fear that when their beauty fades
they will lose the love glance they get from men

but how else can she hope to marry a nobleman
to soar away with him on the wings of the phoenix

murphy drunk and speaking in parables





li bai xxiv-22

written while inspired (7 of 8)

the people who went out into the jing mountains
hardly knew the difference between pebbles and gems
the magnificent jewel of bian he passed over again and again
and then sold cheaply three times by the men of chu

a straight trunk tree fears being the first cut down
the fragrant orchid fears being burned in the censor
what overflows comes down from the heavens
what sinks into darkness is at one with the dao

murphy valuing what is difficult to find





li bai xxiv-23

written while inspired (8 of 8)

the magnificent paddy is hidden under the lush grass cover
the more lush the less likely the budding of young rice ears
the farmer can not prevent how few ears are sprouting
he must worry about having enough soft irrigating rains
and how sudden comes thistle down blown by autumn winds

how could a learned man living in the wilderness, alone
be elevated to court to work toward the glory of his dynasty

murphy a social servant of the first water





li bai xxiv-24

allegories (1 of 3)

the arms of tiny cheng wang are embroidered
holding axes, high up on the wind screen
why does tiny cheng wang tremble so

one time when wu wang was very ill
zhou gong slashed out with his nails
and diverted the flooding huang he

then this gentleman was unjustly maligned
his noble lord was not stopped from doubting him
when the wind tore down the trees
the crops also were brought low

guan shu xian and cai shu du
both men fanned the flames of calumny
while zhou gong wrote the poem chi xiao

at that time the glittering gold case would not be opened
who could ever understand the loyalty of zhou gong

murphy always true to his clan





li bai xxiv-25

allegories (2 of 3)

two glittering phoenix, both in blazing motion
three resplendent blue birds in the vigor of youth
all moving together toward the jasper pavilion
singing and dancing on top of gemstone mountain

these birds delighted the heart of nong you
she the daughter of qin mu fong, and more
she who enjoyed the patronage of xi wang mu

but jing wei, a very small bird, her call piteous
muffled, carried splinters in her beak

murphy rereading the old eddas of iceland





li bai xxiv-26

allegories (3 of 3)

the strong spring winds return to chang an
entering the eastern gate charging up the streets
the crops there cannot bear this east wind
bend in obeisance to that which threatens them

the seas swallows return from the south
back from their winter nests in qin palace
flying in pairs they begin to arrive
quickly disappearing up under the eaves

the wife of the warrior longs for her husband
she can visit him only in her dreams
he, fighting out to the east of liao cheng

murphy in march, braving sleet and wind





li bai xxiv-27

autumn thoughts, evening, in an inn

the wind is cold coming off the sea of autumn
i am filled with longing for the home i left behind
there where the mountains rise in an unbroken chain
when again will i ever see the rivers of my youth

no matter how far my gaze i see only passing clouds
i stand heartsore in the bright moonlight
the fragrant herbs have all lost their frail beauty
the white dew soaks into my cold clothes

i dream until the milky way is almost gone
when i awake i can still see a few brighter stars
filled with grief i yearn yet more for what i have lost
my tears gush forth, who could ever comfort me

murphy remembering marble falls back down in texas





li bai xxiv-28

allegorical rendering of my feelings (1 of 4)

wang zi chiao attained wisdom
the immortality of the dao
he lived by the yi and lo rivers
his bones are now become gold

he will never perish
his beatific face forever the spring of youth
fou qiu gong was his friend
they lived in fond intimacy

then they flew away waving farewell
leaving the people of their time
these two wise men long gone
within the impenetrable past

i can only imagine meeting them
another dream sunk in the depths of my mind

murphy planning two impossible things every morning





li bai xxiv-29

allegorical rendering of my feelings (2 of 4)

the chrysanthemums by the eastern hedge are scraggly
they have only a few stems and their leaves are small
of course they can’t be compared with orchids
but they do have a very distinctive scent

they have yet to be immersed in a cup of wine
and have received only the splendor of morning dew
if one doesn’t pluck their full bloom they wither and fall
never to find an appreciator of their vital being

murphy drinking his wine with style these days





li bai xxiv-30

allegorical rendering of my feelings (3 of 4)

chang o picked the herbs of immortality
to give her husband eternal black hair
it was not to keep an always youthful face
but to develop their golden bones within

they flew away never to return to earth
her smile radiates from the bright moon
the royal harem women in beautiful bloom
they have not long til vitality fades

murphy preferring older women





li bai xxiv-31

allegorical rendering of my feelings (4 of 4)

song you served the duke of chu
his character always pure nobility
on wu mountain he sang of purple clouds
on the way to ya he he sang of white snow

no one in the empire could match his tone
the people of ba stood mute in awe

but teng tu zi misled the duke of chu
when he said song you was a voluptuary
which lost him the grace of the ruler

murphy never soft spoken as an underling





li bai xxiv-32

reading in the han lin academy, i am moved to write this poem

mornings i rush early to the forbidden city
evenings i wait for imperial commands by the golden gate
while there i read surrounded by scattered scrolls
i am researching the past, probing the deepest of its secrets

i find something i like, roll up the scroll and laugh out loud
black flies can easily besmirch us one and all
it is difficult for anyone to sing only of pristine snows
i am a frivolous person, vulnerable to the pettiness of others

when the weather is beautiful i wander the wooded valleys
sometimes i sit idly on my porch whistling in the cool breeze
i climb the rocks at tung lu river where yan zi ling fished
perhaps i should leave the awards i’m offered and simply go fishing

murphy climbing the slippery pole of official heirarchy





li bai xxiv-33

in the zi ji gong daoist monastery, i write these lines about the autumn landscape

what is making those autumnal sounds
the bamboo outside the northern window
my heart embraces all of this world around me
for if i can’t grasp it all, my heart shrinks ro nothing

i sit quietly and look out at the wonders of nature
the enveloping strength that delights all solitude lovers
a white cloud comes from the south to approach me
miraculously it hovers in the sky right above

i’m too lazy to go the reasder of faces, dang zhu
so he can look at me and predict my future
it bothers me that si ma ji zhu wants to do the same
while in my heart i do not care about the future

for forty nine years i have lived a wasteful life
and i surely know that cannot be changed
now as i gaze out onto this sutumn world
my life ahead seems lighter and brighter

the world i know is in constant upheaval
and i feel i must be like old tao yuan ming
and retire to my humble hut in the hinterlands
my neighbor’s wine should now be ready

murphy letting go the reins of his career





li bai xxiv-34

autumn thoughts ont he banks of the yang zi

i feast on the liquid dawn as i rest in the old gorge
my hair is long and i have given up vagabonding ways
a mountain cicada calls from a withered mulberry tree
now i know for sure autumn has come back again

while the wild geese of the north abandon the sea shore
swallows from the kingdom of yue leave their nests on the yang zi
the strong winds disturb the sands that i am walking on
a shimmering fog descends to engulf the river islands

brown clouds gather to darken the skies of the morning
white waves crest on the cold flood of the great river
my heart sorrows and begins a complaint to itself
my tears though have all dried up and do not flow

even the orchids that i love seem inhospitable to my eyes
their perfidy brings more sadness and i give in to heavy sighs

murphy letting the setting sun bring his spirits down





li bai xxiv-35

on an autumn evening writing down my felings

the north winds dislodge the wild geese of the sea
pushing southward from the northern mountains with their chill
i am moved to wander the rivers xiao and xiang
i feel like a vagabond, like the geese on the wing

i long for the sea but even more for the isles of the blessed
my desires vary with my distance from their red rock cliffs
after i have spent my emotions yearning for peng lai
i think of the world between heaven and the earth

here i sit singing to the high autumn sky
then lie on my back to gaze at the heavens
the moon gradually slides behind the window’s ivy
frost gathers on the pines in front of my lonely hut

without prejudging all i wish for is respite from desire
i would follow the secrets of nature for my guidance
and when i find myself at the peach blossom spring
i will establish myself there and seek to enhance my life

murphy torn between abstraction and reality





li bai xxiv-36

i climb to the heights on si kong mountain in an hui and write my feelings

when the weakened remnants of the qin dynasty fled south
an heroic emperor hoped to rally men to restore his throne
lui kun and zi di danced with joy early one morning
awaiting a battle and their chance for riches and fame

although in their hearts they wished to help the people
they finally enjoyed the tumult and rioting more
but i am of an entirely different nature and a different time
i choose to hide my skills here above the banks of the wan river

i have built myself a hut in the heights of si kong mountain
with tian zhu mountain my neighbor off to the west
the snow has stopped, moonlight brightens the fields below
storm clouds retreat, spring comes to the land of the nine streams

i am here to wait until the political situation calms down
and then i will probably continue to stay here and live
i will spend my entire fortune perfecting the elixir of life
my greatest wish is to obtain for all time my true nature

riding up on the rays of the sun i will disappear into the heavens
climbing to the stars i will delight in fording the milky way
and if ever wang zi chiao follows me in this journey
he will forever by my guest in the regions of paradise





li bai xxiv-37

from the prison at xun yang i send this poem regarding the “one hundred concerns” of minister cui huan

the rebel gong gong erupted in a mighty rage
the pillars of heaven were sundered in two
the giant fish kun and qing raised high the waters
creating a massive crashing with a thunderous noise
the fish and dragon troops brought their destruction
the calamities people suffered became my afflictions
the god of fire broiled the kun kun mountains
precious stones, grimy pebbles, all, melted together
i hope for a prolonged rain to bring its peace
to dampen and cool the gems in the hot ashes

li guang could split hard rock with his arrow shot
when duke lu yang raised his lance the sun reversed course
yet when the loyal zou yan wept, even though it was summer
frost was visited unexpectedly in the kingdom of yan

cheng struggled with the questions of his fidelity
but could could not escape the prisons of xia tai
like an zhi du from the han my strict judge, a hawk fell on me
now red thorn bushes grow high outside the prison i’m in

the hero zhou gong was wrongly slandered, punished
yet the songs in the shi jing lament his misfortune
teachings of confucius still reign throughout the empire
they stand as steadfast as the massive eastern mountains

mu sheng fled because he foresaw trouble in the kingdom of chu
zou yang eventually escaped the disaster threatening him in yan

i saw the bad outcome of the revolution of li lin yong too late
if mu sheng yang and a cou were still around they would laugh at me
a magnificent steed does not gallop blindly but with purpose

why has this decree been published at such an inconvenient time
my family is scattered as stars in the heavens, two of my children dead
my heart is filled with unbearable pain, grief overwhelms me
even if i play the lute or lift the wine cup, i would feel only sorrow
even thinking of filling the cup brings bloody tears to my eyes
i trust i will once more able to see clearly, see to the tai star above
while lao zi’s mesh of the sky network will recede and set me free

i trust you to forego the letter of the law and exercise mercy
trust that you will overlook my mistakes, consider my talents
ye chang had done no wrong and confucius held him blameless
allow me to escape this imprisonment, let the sun shine on cool ashes

murphy wondering again why he chooses to raise his head so high





li bai xxiv-38

words of deep sorrow, sent to vice-president wei

the waters of the seas boil up to raging heights
carrying desert sands, rushing in through all four borders
first they spilled to the heavens in yan and qi
the lands which gave us the rebel an lu shan

how powerful the imperial carriage with its six horses
bringing the shining sun, our emperor, west to shen si
the nine provinces then, scattered, apart like the stars
the people of the realm, destitute, suffering

i, a patriot, a southerner, weeping
i cry out to the heavens
i so long to be in imperial court
i hide face in my sleeves, i weep

bloody tears redden the ground
here at my feet, making a mud
i am kept here in this prison
it is the beginning of spring
and i can’t go out to see the new grass

in my lonely solitude i fester
my heart fills with abject despair
my older brother is in jiu jiang
my younger brother in the gorges of the yang zi
i think of my beloved son to the north
he is living out beyond mu ling guan
i am frustrated, we cannot grow wings
we cannot fly as the birds, to be together

i am separated from my dear wife
she is to the south, out in you zhang
my entire family in all the scattered regions
able to pick a hundred different herbs

because of my misfortune here
i am no longer able to help them
thorn bushes have been planted
the sweet cassia plants ripped out
the phoenix is now encaged
and the lowly hen venerated

once when emperor shun offered the throne to da you
bai cheng zi gao abdicated his supreme position
and retired to live out his life on his country estate

since that time the morality of the people degenerated
where in such a riotous turmoil could i find refuge

those that care for me will find sympathy in their hearts
those who do not care, why inflict even more suffering on me

wu yuan’s body was sewn in a bag and thrown in the river
the duke peng yue’s body preserved in salt by han gao zi
and later served a s banquet food to his feudal lords
why should distinguished people receive such a fate

the blue sky provides fully, despite his distance above
he has sympathy for us down here on earth
if he listens to my plea he will free me from this prison
and if you, master wei, discern the gem of this pebble
you will take up the jade scepter and expunge my errors

murphy discretely assured of his own self worth





li bai xxiv-39

during the time of the rebellion in jing zhou, i record my feelings on the shores of lake dong ting

a great serpent moved slowly across dong ting lake
she swallowed an elephant on an island in the waters
the ba hill was formed from the heap of bones
this story is told by the old people in the land of chu

now again these waters are no barrier to perfidy
and there is a great need to defeat the rioters
at year’s end the heavens shine forth their grandeur
while the mass of common people face devastation

my heart is torn, i long to return to my ancestral home
but i am stranded far away because of this calamitous unrest
the zhang hua balcony now lies in smoldering ruins
and the way out of this land of chu is essentially blocked

a swirling plaintive wind blends with sad monkey screams
the leaves have all fallen and the wild geese have flown south
the setting sun disappears beyond this lake of red sand
a bright moon makes its appearance above qing cao lake

my desire to return to shen si has so far come to nothing
yet i still have faith that the upeisng will soon be quashed
long do i call out my bitterness so the heavens can hear me
i petition all in lofty positions to suppress these bandits

murphy preferring quiet backwater canoeing to white water rafting





li bai xxiv-40

looking into a mirror, i express my feelings

when someone finds the dao and thus eternal life
the fact of a past and a present disappear
for by sheddding the ropes of time
maturation and old age can never occur

i laugh at myself when i look in the mirror
my white hair like grass where frost has fallen
then i seek to calm my heart, but can only sigh
i turn and ask my shadow why he is so frail

i did not choose to change my body like this
i have finally become but another old man
like those four old men on zhong nan mountain

murphy doubting his shamanic beliefs





li bai xxiv-41

out in the fields, i express my feelings

jia yi was exiled to chang sha for three years
ban chao was put in charge of an outermost region

when good men are treated so shabbily
it is best to become another zhao fu
who dragged his white calf behind
and drank from the purest of spring waters

murphy hiding under his two-bushel basket





li bai xxiv-42

thoughts of spring, south of grand river

what month of spring have we now come to
i can still hear the song of the yellow oriole

travelling far, i have lost my way back home
in the south on the yang zi my hair turning white
my heart is yearning to fly with the clouds
high over the passes to home in shen si

but my body is stuck, under the moonlight of chu
my life in this world has been full of many changes
my fields back home, long gone back to weed

where can i go now in this my old age
it’s long ago i left the singing for the court

murphy missing the last bus home at 2 in the morning





li bai xxiv-43

i listen as buddhist priest xun from si chuan plays his flute

the buddhist priest from si chuan
brings the sounds of si ma xiang ru
he has come down from the west
down from the highest of the o mei mountains

when he began to play i stopped to listen
i felt i heard the rustle of countless pines
soughing in the winds of a deep canyon

when he played the song of “running water”
my heart was filled with longing for my old home
the fading tones meshing with the monastery’s carillon

then i become aware

night has settled on the green mountains
layers of autumn cloud have darkened the sky

murphy amused by buskers on the subway platform





li bai xxiv-44

at the east gate of lu cheng, contemplating reeds

in the kingdom of lu early preparations for the cold have begun
when the first frost begins, the time to scythe the river reeds
the sickle swings, making its swath of a half moon
when it hits the surface it splashes chains of water pearls

these reeds are especially appreciated as dragon beard grass
they are woven together to make useful, durable mats
it is restful to sleep away the coolness of night on such a mat
and the women fear not its shedding on their night clothes

murphy intrigued by the simplest of things





li bai xxiv-45

i sing under the japanese pomegranate tree of my neighbor

under the east window of my neighbor in lu cheng
stands a japanese pomegranate tree, rare in this area
even coral glinting under water of a running stream
cannot match the richness of the color of the flowers

their pure fragrance sweetens the breeze at sunset
as a brilliance of birds return to their nests in the tree
i wish i were perched on that limb to the south
and the wind would lift the night clothes off my neighbor

sadly there is no way for me to go with her to pick flowers
i can only stretch my neck to look into her inner chamber

murphy not above appreciating the opposite sex





li bai xxiv-46

the spruce in front of the north window

before the southern winds stands a lonely spruce
its branches and needles thick, abundant
a cool wind blows constantly through
rustling throught the tree mornings, evenings

in the tree’s shadow a thick old growth of moss
the green of the spruce emerging through the mists
when will this tree reach up to touch the heavens
already it looms above, hundreds of feet tall

murphy appreciating the steadfastness of nature





li bai xxiv-47

i sing the praises of a wooden cup (1 of 2)

this cup has a swirling grain that pleases
a small ax or chisel is all that it took
this cup has the shape of a mountain
and appears to have been carved from a beam

the outside surface rivals gold in its beauty
and the inside has seen much wonderful wine
yet this cup is ashamed you have shown clemency
and, unjustifiably, kept it from being part of this feast

murphy with his sri lankan friends eating with his hands





li bai xxiv-48

i sing the praises of a wooden cup (2 of 2)

from the knot formed by the limbing of a tree
one growing high in the coldness of a mountain
a cup ashamed that it cannot yet hold the sea
but proud to hold the wine in your house

murphy never washing his coffee mug of choice





li bai xxiv-49

after leaving the imperial palace in disgrace
i visit censor wang, but not to see him at home
but to sing to his parrot whose cage hangs on the wall

with featherless wings you have left the imperial palace
and now must sing alone in the house of the censor
although you can speak, the court has rejected you
it would be best to fly back home to long xi





li bai xxiv-50

the purple rattan

purple rattan climbs over the tops of all other plants
its thick foliage naturally hiding the nests of song birds
and now, in late spring, their flowers sprout thickly
their fragrance a perfumed maiden passing by

murphy smelling the taste of his meal





li bai xxiv-51

i watch the handling of the white falcon (1 of 2)

the eighth month on the border brings strong winds
at this time the tatar falcon has silky white feathers
alone he flies high, a snow flake able to see for a hundred miles
and he sees things as small as the tips of autumnal fur hairs

murphy sitting behind the blurring sight of old age





li bai xxiv-52

i watch the handling of the white falcon (2 of 2)

in the cold weather of the twelfth month
the falcon is permitted 8 or 9 flight feathers
the others are carefully clipped, grounding him

but he lets the swallows and sparrows know
they should never laugh at him in this state
for in another few months time he will fly
soar again, and look down from up-high in the sky

murphy patiently waiting





li bai xxiv-53

i view the the landscape painting on the wal of the house of wang zhi an, under-district judge of bo ping

the whitewash wall presents the empty sky
the colors bring forth the mighty yang zi, then sea
a passing cloud forever leaves the mountains
the same white gulls, the same place, every day

wang zhi an, sage of bo ping, sat before this scene
deep in thought until his mind settled on its course
he would take pleasure in giving up official position

the gorge, the pines, the stone stairway in eternal autumn
i, the sorrowful guest, think longingly of returning home
as i sit before wang’s painting on a bitter cold morning

murphy a nomad, forgetful of the old pathways





li bai xxiv-54

i write these lines on the stove while the elixir of life is prepared at the home of district judge cui of yong jiu

you have performed without error as the district judge
if you wish to prepare the elixir of life, to become a genius
in the same manner that you allowed no influence to sway you
like wang zi qiao reportedly acted in his official life

you have built this oven especially for making the elixir of life
your former teacher instructed you, now spirits are to be your guide
the great wise spirit of the dao knows no partisanship
and the elixir of life is a reality unto only itself

only after the ninth distillation will it bring you its wings
then you like wang zi qiao will fly away to no-one-knows-where

murphy chatting up the gullible young lass





li bai xxiv-55

i view the image of the wu shan gorge on the painted screen of dan yuan qiu

once i traveled through the three gorges of the yang zi and saw wu shan
today i see a painting of the wu shan and my memory and the painting agree
one might almost believe the twelve sky-reaching peaks of wu shan were here
they flew into this house and ended on the colorful screen before me

the rustling pines aquiver like they were fearful of an eerie noise
the yang tai balcony standing graceful in its setting before me
as if chu xiang wang still waited for the fairy xiang wang chao
we can see the ceiling and the shining brocade mat still there, untouched
for the duke of chu and his fairy have still not embraced

a short distance on the image stretches in the mind a thousand miles
the green hills and the balcony’s red wall shimmer like silk
the trees in the blur of the farthest distance surround mount jing men
while individual boats on the ba river can each be clearly seen

water gushes over jagged rocks through the many deep gorges
everywhere the color makes clouds and vegetation come alive
the flowers on the banks of the river lsughing in the sunshine
in the year that is depicted they were in spectacular bloom

a traveller on the banks of the river listens to the cries of the apes
how many years now has he been listening to their sadness
as i look at the picture i sink into intospective thoughts
i become the duke of chu dreaming of the colored clouds of immortality

murphy transported by the terrible images of goya





li bai xxiv-56

i ask the mountain hermit cui about his painting of the waterfall on the wall at bo zhang

the hundred fathoms high white wall has a deep cleft
red crags of the four surrounding mountains stand apart
water falls from the split to crash into the dragon pond
day and night the roar of the roiling water sounds

the top of the falls attracts a man’s attention at night
the water seems to come from the milky way of stars
i have heard that you, cui, have painted its true picture
all the cliffs and rocks around are of true to life

with a wonderful artistry the plants are shown
the rare blue vitrol depicting the age-old moss
if you could send me the picture carefully wrapped
i wouldn’t need to visit tian tai mountain to see the falls

murphy in his armchair reading a book, visiting thailand





li bai xxiv-57

in the midst of wild grasses i find the “white-haired elder”

in my drunken state i decide to visit a farm
wandering through the forest i sing this song

why is it the “white haired elder” plant is found
hidden deep within the lush green of green grasses

but when i hold the plant up in the sunlight
it truly looks like dishevelled temple hairs

the little plant looks bedraggled to me
i’m angry that the east wind helps it grow

murphy picking wild ginseng as a crash crop





li bai xxiv-58

exiled to ye lang i write this verse on mallow paper

i am ashamed before you, you who protect us
all tender roots before the dazzling sun above
i ask only that i, a poor man in exile
be allowed to return home

i pray for only a little light from the sun, beneficence
i will return home, i will remain in my old garden

murphy the eloquent barrister





li bai xxiv-59

i view the sea-view painting in the hermitage of the monk ying yi

the true holy man chooses to live in a beautiful chamber
there he enters his inner being to purify thought

on various screens, high mountains wreathed in clouds
the peaks so high they touch the milky way

red earth walls shine at length before my eyes
i imagine if the drapes were raised in sunshine
the color would dazzle those in the distance

the depicted islands of the blessed immortals
to be entered as if through a window
the mighty east sea painted beside the desk

mist covered waves rushing, battling each other
a number of rocky cliffs, raw jagged heights
the incoming sailor moving with the wind

a waterfall seems to fall from the heavens
the higher mountains, there for the climbing

but these are all only illusions that make us sigh
as our heart dives into the distance of the image
one views these scenes with a dreamer’s eye

it is believed one should seek to travel to the red soil country
or to sail out to the shores of the islands of the immortals

the sight of these images themselves brings such a holiness
one can withdraw into self, attain a true inner harmony

murphy traveling far in his vicarious adventures





li bai xxiv-60

the white heron

the white heron descends onto the clear autumn waters
he flies slowly, alone, falling, a solitary snowflake
he seems unconcerned, not yet ready to migrate south
then stands steady, isolated on the edge of the sand bank

murphy always scrutinizing his environs





li bai xxiv-61

i sing the praises of the hibiscus flower (1 of 2)

the flowers of the garden bring their laughter of youth
the plants around the pond at their peak of spring glory
yet none outshines the hibiscus flower in all its glory
it rivals the beauty of the jade stairsteps leading to them

but why does such a magnificent flower fade so quickly
it seems but a fleeting moment, and they wither away
why can’t they be like the proverbial gem tree of paradise
which continues its blooms of beauty all through the year

murphy wanting perfection and never finding it





li bai xxiv-62

i sing the praises of the hibiscus flower (2 of 2)

people in this world love to plant peach and plum trees
you will find many of them in any rich man’s home
their blooms entice as long as warm spring winds blow
at their peak they lure one to explorw every path

but if one morning a killing frost comes down from on high
these blooms are killed and no longer display their beauty

how different the cassia from the southern mountains
green leaves spring from their roots all winter long
you can settle in the cool shade of such a tree
it is a shame it is not planted in every garden

murphy definitely the owner of a green thumb





li bai xxiv-63

white walnuts

embroidereed on gauze sleeves white walnuts are clearly seen
on jade plates they disappear and are difficult to detect
as when an old official has finished saying the sutras
and sheds the rosary of crystal beads from his wrist

murphy finding colors more vivid as he reaches old age





li bai xxiv-64

the wide screen with the image of the wu mountains

on the wide screen the gao qiu mountain is depicted
the trees near the bo di cheng fortress in fall colors
the variegated clouds hover next to the massif
the ba river at the flood below rivals the sky in size
the river completes the scene, but even it does not move

murphy catching lightning in a bottle





li bai xxiv-65

on my flight to the south i write down my feelings,

how endless this night, i sing the song of the glitteering white rocks
i am like ning qi before he had come to the aid of prince huan of qi
i wish to be a second chen ping who came to the aid of the han dynasty

the rebel an lu shan has destroyed the are of the huang he and lo rivers
and has taken into his hands half of the extent of the middle kingdom
the yearly cycle of the tang dynasty should not become distorted
but controlling the clouds and lightning of upheaval is difficult

the sublime prince li lin has been appointed a general by the emperor
his imprimatur to be imposed throughout the embattled border provinces
at this time i am engaged as a secretary working on the golden balcony
where the wine is served in elaborate presentation goblets of dark jade

despite this privileged reality i have long yearned to return to my homeland
for this and other reasons, and not because of the rturn of the autumn winds
the generals under the command of the prince have be calumniated and staggered
and a mutiny has suddenly burst forth and threatens the entire army of li lin

ever since i came to bo sha zhen i have heard the toar of the drums of the rebels
friends and followers of the prince are drifting clouds, disappearing in the wind
on the ships the fingers of the mass of clinging refugees desperately cling
in the town of po jun it is said the only food left is boiled corpses

hastily i flee over the nearest pass without thinking of consequence
not knowing where to go i fly south fast as a shooting star
the rebels have have infected the entire north with their pestilence

unfortunately i do not possess si ma shao’s whip with seven precious stones
otherwise i should have wielded it and ridden through my pursuers on the roads
my loyalty however prevailed and the planet venus moved through the pleiades
and a long rainbow pierced the sun allowing my escaope from the rebels

now my hope is that the kingdoms of qin and zhao will send troops
the emperor needs their help as the nine provinces are all in chaos
i am still imbued with the grace and nobility of our illustrious ruler
and am equally persuaded by the persuasive words of zu ti

zu ti, passing over the yang zi, swore he would drown on his return
should he fail to quell the rebellion disrupting the middle kingdom
i draw my sword and flail in vain at the many soldiers before me
and sing this sad song to convey the pain eating into my heart

murphy a marine leaving no one behind in the retreat





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