Dreaming of Li Po


Death at least gives separation repose.
Without death, its grief can only sharpen.
You wander out in malarial southlands,
and I hear nothing of you, exiled

old friend. Knowing I think of you
always now, you visit my dreams, my heart
frightened it is no living spirit
I dream. Endless miles–you come

so far from the Yangtze's sunlit maples
night shrouds the passes when you return.
And snared as you are in their net,
with what bird's wings could you fly?

Filling my room to the roof-beams, the moon
sinks. You nearly linger in its light,
but the waters deepen in long swells,
unfed dragons–take good care old friend.


                  Chinese; trans. David Hinton


Tu Fu, Chinese, trans. David Hinton, The Selected Poems of Tu Fu, 1989, New Directions Publishing Corp.