This cloud, that has drifted all day through the sky

Du Fu

It is almost as hard for friends to meet

As for the morning and evening stars.

Tonight then is a rare event,

Joining, in the candlelight,

Two men who were young not long ago

But now are turning grey at the temples.

…To find that half our friends are dead

Shocks us, burns our hearts with grief.

We little guessed it would be twenty years

Before I could visit you again.

When I went away, you were still unmarried;

But now these boys and girls in a row

Are very kind to their father’s old friend.

They ask me where I have been on my journey;

And then, when we have talked awhile,

They bring and show me wines and dishes,

Spring chives cut in the night-rain

And brown rice cooked freshly a special way.

…My host proclaims it a festival,

He urges me to drink ten cups —

But what ten cups could make me as drunk

As I always am with your love in my heart?

…Tomorrow the mountains will separate us;

After tomorrow-who can say?

All he can see is the smile of the new love,

While the old love weeps unheard.

The brook was pure in its mountain source,

But away from the mountain its waters darken.

…Waiting for her maid to come from selling pearls

For straw to cover the roof again,

She picks a few flowers, no longer for her hair,

And lets pine-needles fall through her fingers,

And, forgetting her thin silk sleeve and the cold,

She leans in the sunset by a tall bamboo.


Du Fu

SEEING Li Bai IN A DREAM II

 

This cloud, that has drifted all day through the sky,

May, like a wanderer, never come back….

Three nights now I have dreamed of you —

As tender, intimate and real as though I were awake.

And then, abruptly rising to go,

You told me the perils of adventure

By river and lake-the storms, the wrecks,

The fears that are borne on a little boat;

And, here in my doorway, you rubbed your white head

As if there were something puzzling you.

…Our capital teems with officious people,

While you are alone and helpless and poor.

Who says that the heavenly net never fails?

It has brought you ill fortune, old as you are.

…A thousand years’ fame, ten thousand years’ fame-

What good, when you are dead and gone.