Selected poems by the Chinese poet Tu Fu (712-770)

Morning Rain

A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light. 
I hear it among treetop leaves before mist 
Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and, 
Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened

Colors grace thatch homes for a moment. 
Flocks and herds of things wild glisten 
Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across 
Half a mountain -- and lingers on past noon.

Dreaming of Li Po

Separation by death must finally be choked down, 
but separation in life is a long anguish, 

Chiang-nan is a pestilential land; 
no word from you there in exile. 

You have been in my dreams, old friend, 
as if knowing how much I miss you. 

Caught in a net, 
how is it you still have wings? 

I fear you are no longer mortal; 
the distance to here is enormous. 

When your spirit came, the maples were green; 
when it went, the passes were black. 

The setting moon spills light on the rafters; 
for a moment I think it's your face. 

The waters are deep, the waves wide; 
don't let the river gods take you. 

Clouds drifting the whole day; 
a traveler traveling who never arrives. 

Three nights you have been in my dreams; 
as your friend, I knew your mind. 

You say your return is always harrowing; 
your coming, a hard coming; 

Rivers, lakes, so many waves; 
in your boat you fear overturning. 

Going out the door, you scratch your white head 
as if the purpose of your whole life was ruined, 

The rich and high positioned fill the Capital, 
while you, alone, are careworn and dejected. 

Who says the net of heaven is cast wide? 
Growing older, you only grow more preyed upon. 

One thousand autumns, ten thousand years of fame, 
are nothing after death.