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II. 7. KU FENG, No. 6 

The T'ai horse cannot think of Yüeh ; 

The birds of Yüeh have no love for Yen. 

Feeling and character grow out of habit ; 

A people's customs cannot be changed. 

Once we marched from the Wild Goose Gate ; 

Now we are fighting in front of the Dragon Pen. 

Startled sands blur the desert sun ; 

Flying snows bewilder the Tartar sky. 

Lice swarm in our plumed caps and tiger coats ; 

Our spirits tremble like the flags we raise to the wind. 

Hard fighting gets no reward or praise ; 

Steadfastness and truth cannot be rightly known. 

Who was sorry for Li, the Swift of Wing (1), 

When his white head vanished from the Three Fronts ?(2)


(1) Li Kuang, died 125 B.C. 

(2) Manchurian, Mongolian and Turkestan frontiers. 


Long ago there were two queens (1) called Huang and Ying. And they stood on the shores of the Hsiao-hsiang, to the south of Lake Tung-t'ing. Their sorrow was deep as the waters of the Lake that go straight down a thousand miles. Dark clouds blackened the sun. Shōjō & howled in the mist and ghosts whistled in the rain. The queens said, " Though we speak of it we cannot mend it. High Heaven is secretly afraid to shine on our loyalty. 

But the thunder crashes and bellows its anger, that while Yao and Shun are here they should also be crowning Yü. When a prince loses his servants, the dragon turns into a minnow. When power goes to slaves, mice change to tigers. 

" Some say that Yao is shackled and hidden away, and that Shun has died in the fields. 

" But the Nine Hills of Deceit stand there in a row, each like each ; and which of them covers the lonely bones of the Double-eyed One, our Master ?" 

So the royal ladies wept, standing amid yellow clouds. Their tears followed the winds and waves, that never return. And while they wept, they looked out into the distance and saw the deep mountain of Tsang-wu. 

" The mountain of Tsang-wu shall fall and the waters of the Hsiang shall cease, sooner than the marks of our tears shall fade from these bamboo-leaves." 

[Of this poem and the " Szechwan Road " a critic has said : " You could recite them all day without growing tired of them."] 


(1) These queens were the daughters of the Emperor Yao, who gave them in marriage to Shun, and abdicated in his favour. Shun's ministers conspired against him and set " the Great Yü " on the throne. A legend says that the spots on the bamboo-leaves which grow on the Hsiang River were caused by the tears of these two queens. 

(2) I use the Japanese form as being more familiar. A kind of demon-monkey is meant. 


Eheu ! How dangerous, how high ! It would be easier to climb to Heaven than to walk the Szechwan Road. 

Since Ts'an Ts'ung and Yü Fu ruled the land, forty-eight thousand years had gone by ; and still no human foot had passed from Shu to the frontiers of Ch'in. To the west across T'ai-po Shan there was a bird-track, by which one could cross to the ridge of O-mi. But the earth of the hill crumbled and heroes* perished. 

So afterwards they made sky ladders and hanging bridges. Above, high beacons of rock that turn back the chariot of the sun. Below, whirling eddies that meet the waves of the current and drive them away. Even the wings of the yellow cranes cannot carry them across, and the monkeys grow weary of such climbing. 

How the road curls in the pass of Green Mud ! 

With nine turns in a hundred steps it twists up the hills. 

Clutching at Orion, passing the Well Star, I look up and gasp. Then beating my breast sit and groan aloud. 

I fear I shall never return from my westward wandering; the way is steep and the rocks cannot be climbed. 

Sometimes the voice of a bird calls among the ancient trees a male calling to its wife, up and down through the woods. Sometimes a nightingale sings to the moon, weary of empty hills. 

It would be easier to climb to Heaven than to walk the Szechwan Road ; and those who hear the tale of it turn pale with fear. 

Between the hill-tops and the sky there is not a cubit's space. Withered pine-trees hang leaning over precipitous walls. 

Flying waterfalls and rolling torrents mingle their din. Beating the cliffs and circling the rocks, they thunder in a thousand valleys. 

Alas ! O traveller, why did you come to so fearful a place ? The Sword Gate is high and jagged. If one man stood in the Pass, he could hold it against ten thousand. 

The guardian of the Pass leaps like a wolf on all who are not his kinsmen. 

In the daytime one hides from ravening tigers and in the night from long serpents, that sharpen their fangs and lick blood, slaying men like grass. 

They say the Embroidered City is a pleasant place, but I had rather be safe at home. 

For it would be easier to climb to Heaven than to walk the Szechwan Road. 

I turn my body and gaze longingly towards the West. 

[When Li Po came to the capital and showed this poem to Ho Chih-ch'ang, Chih-ch'ang raised his eyebrows and said : " Sir, you are not a man of this world. You must indeed be the genius of the star T'ai-po " (xxxiv.36).] 


* The " heroes " were five strong men sent by the King of Shu to fetch the five daughters of the King of Ch'in. 


Last year we were fighting at the source of the San-kan ; 

This year we are fighting at the Onion River road. 

We have washed our swords in the surf of Indian seas ; 

We have pastured our horses among the snows of T'ien Shan. 

Three armies have grown gray and old, 

Fighting ten thousand leagues away from home. 

The Huns have no trade but battle and carnage ; 

They have no pastures or ploughlands, 

But only wastes where white bones lie among yellow sands. 

Where the house of Ch'in built the great wall that was to keep away the Tartars, 

There, in its turn, the house of Han lit beacons of war. 

The beacons are always alight ; fighting and marching never stop. 

Men die in the field, slashing sword to sword ; 

The horses of the conquered neigh piteously to Heaven. 

Crows and hawks peck for human guts, 

Carry them in their beaks and hang them on the branches of withered trees. 

Captains and soldiers are smeared on the bushes and grass ; 

The General schemed in vain. 

Know therefore that the sword is a cursed thing 

Which the wise man uses only if he must. 


See the waters of the Yellow River leap down from Heaven, 

Roll away to the deep sea and never turn again ! 

See at the mirror in the High Hall 

Aged men bewailing white locks 

In the morning, threads of silk ; 

In the evening flakes of snow ! 

Snatch the joys of life as they come and use them to the fill; 

Do not leave the silver cup idly glinting at the moon. 

The things Heaven made 

Man was meant to use ; 

A thousand guilders scattered to the wind may come back again. 

Roast mutton and sliced beef will only taste well 

If you drink with them at one sitting three hundred cups. 

Master Ts'en Ts'an, 

Doctor Tan-ch'iu, 

Here is wine : do not stop drinking, 

But listen, please, and I will sing you a song. 

Bells and drums and fine food, what are they to me, 

Who only want to get drunk and never again be sober ? 

The Saints and Sages of old times are all stock and still ; 

Only the mighty drinkers of wine have left a name behind. 

When the king of Ch'en gave a feast in the Palace of P'ing-lo 

With twenty thousand gallons of wine he loosed mirth and play. 

The master of the feast must not cry that his money is all spent ; 

Let him send to the tavern and fetch more, to keep your glasses filled. 

His five-flower horse and thousand-guilder coat 

Let him call his boy to take them along and sell them for good wine, 

That drinking together we may drive away the sorrows of a thousand years. 


O Sun that rose in the eastern corner of Earth, 

Looking as though you came from under the ground, 

When you crossed the sky and entered the deep sea, 

Where did you stable your six dragon-steeds ? 

Now and of old your journeys have never ceased : 

Strong were that man's limbs 

Who could run beside you on your travels to and fro. 

The grass does not refuse 

To flourish in the spring wind ; 

The leaves are not angry 

At falling through the autumn sky. 

Who with whip or spur 

Can urge the feet of Time ? 

The things of the world flourish and decay, 

Each at its own hour. 

Hsi-ho, Hsi-ho,* 

Is it true that once you loitered in the West 

While Lu Yang f raised his spear, to hold 

The progress of your light ; 

Then plunged and sank in the turmoil of the sea ? 

Rebels against Heaven, slanderers of Fate ; 

Many defy the Way. 

But I will put the Whole Lump of Life in my bag, 

And merge my being in the Primal Element. 


* Charioteer of the Sun. 

t Who, like Joshua, stopped the sun during a battle. See Huai-nan Tzu, chap. vi. 


By the river-side at Jo-yeh, 

girls plucking lotus ; 

Laughing across the lotus-flowers, 

each whispers to a friend. 

Their powdered cheeks, lit by the sun, 

are mirrored deep in the pool ; 

Their scented skirts, caught by the wind, 

flap high in the air. 

Who are these gaily riding 

along the river-bank, 

Three by three and five by five, 

glinting through the willow-boughs ? 

Deep the hoofs of their neighing roans 

sink into the fallen leaves ; 

The riders see, for a moment pause, 

and are gone with a pang at heart. 


Soon after I wore my hair covering my forehead 

I was plucking flowers and playing in front of the gate, 

When you came by, walking on bamboo-stilts 

Along the trellis,* playing with the green plums. 

We both lived in the village of Ch'ang-kan, 

Two children, without hate or suspicion. 

At fourteen I became your wife ; 

I was shame-faced and never dared smile. 

I sank my head against the dark wall ; 

Called to a thousand times, I did not turn. 

At fifteen I stopped wrinkling my brow 

And desired my ashes to be mingled with your dust. 

I thought you were like the man who clung to the bridge :| 

Not guessing I should climb the Look-for-Husband Terrace,^ 

But next year you went far away, 

To Ch'u-t'ang and the Whirling Water Rocks. 

In the fifth month "one should not venture there " 

Quotation from the Yangtze boatman's song : 

" When Yen-yü is as big as a man's hat 

One should not venture to make for Ch'u-t'ang." 

Where wailing monkeys cluster in the cliffs above. 

In front of the door, the tracks you once made 

One by one have been covered by green moss 

Moss so thick that I cannot sweep it away, 

And leaves are falling in the early autumn wind. 

Yellow with August the pairing butterflies 

In the western garden flit from grass to grass. 

The sight of these wounds my heart with pain ; 

As I sit and sorrow, my red cheeks fade. 

Send me a letter and let me know in time 

When your boat will be going through the three gorges of Pa. 

I will come to meet you as far as ever you please, 

Even to the dangerous sands of Ch'ang-feng. 


* It is hard to believe that " bed " or " chair " is meant, as hitherto translated. " Trellis " is, however, only a guess. 

\ A man had promised to meet a girl under a bridge. She did not come, but although the water began to rise, he trusted so firmly in her word, that he clung to the pillars of the bridge and waited till he was drowned. 

J So called because a woman waited there so long for her hushand that she turned into stone. 


Of satin-wood our boat is made, 

Our oars of ebony ;* 

Jade pipes and gold flutes 

Play at stern and prow. 

A thousand gallons of red wine 

We carry in the ship's hold ; 

With girls on board at the waves' will 

We are glad to drift or stay. 

Even the rishi f had to wait 

For a yellow crane to ride ; 

But the sailor j whose heart had no guile 

Was followed by the white gulls. 

Ch'ü P'ing's prose and verse 

Hang like the sun and moon ;|| 

The king of Ch'u's arbours and towers 

Are only hummocks in the ground. 

With my mood at its height I wield my brush 

And the Five Hills quake ; 

When the poem is done, my laughter soars 

To the Blue Isles* of the sky. 

Riches, Honour, Triumph, Fame, 

Than that you should long endure, 

It were likelier the stream of the River Han 

Should flow to the North-West ! 


* A phrase from the Li Sao. 

f Tou Tzu-an, who was carried to Heaven by a yellow crane near Wu-ch'ang. 

% A story from Lieh Tzu. 

I.e., Ch'ü Yuan. 

|| Practically a quotation from Ch'ü Yüan's " Life," by Ssu-ma Ch'ien.

* Fairyland, sometimes thought of as being in the middle of the sea, sometimes (as here) in the sky. 

* Fairyland, sometimes thought of as being in the middle of the sea, sometimes (as here) in the sky. 


Do you remember how once at Lo-yang, Tung Tsao-ch'in built us a wine-tower south of the T'ien-ching Bridge? 

With yellow gold and tallies of white jade we bought songs and laughter, and we were drunk month after month, with no thought of kings and princes, though among us were the wisest and bravest within the Four Seas, and men of high promotion. f 

(But with you above all my heart was at no cross-purpose. )J Going round mountains and skirting lakes was as nothing to them. They poured out their hearts and minds, and held nothing back. 

Then I went off to Huai-nan to pluck the laurel-branches, and you stayed north of the Lo, sighing over thoughts and dreams. 

We could not endure separation. We sought each other out and went on and on together, exploring the Fairy Castle.|| 

We followed the thirty-six bends of the twisting waters, and all along the streams a thousand different flowers were in bloom. We passed through ten thousand valleys, and in each we heard the voice of wind among the pines. 

Then the Governor of Han-tung came out to meet us, on a silver saddle with tassels of gold that reached to the ground. And the Initiate of Tzu-yang* summoned us, blowing on his jade sheng. And Sennin music was made in the tower of Ts'an Hsia,f loud as the blended voices of phoenix and roc. 

And the Governor of Han-tung, because his long sleeves would not keep still when the flutes called to him, rose and drunkenly danced. Then he brought his embroidered coat and covered me with it, and I slept with my head on his lap. 

At the feast our spirits had soared to the Nine Heavens, but before evening we were scattered like stars or rain, flying away over hills and rivers to the frontier of Ch'u. I went back to my mountain to seek my old nest, and you, too, went home, crossing the Wei Bridge. 

Then your father, who was brave as leopard or tiger, became Governor of Ping-chou J and put down the rebel bands. And in the fifth month he sent for me. I crossed the T'ai-hang Mountains ; and though it was hard going on the Sheep's Gut Hills, I paid no heed to broken wheels. 

When at last, far on into Winter, I got to the Northern Capital, I was moved to see how much you cared for my reception and how little you cared for the cost amber cups and fine foods on a blue jade dish. You made me drunk and satisfied. I had no thought of returning. 

Sometimes we went out towards the western corner of the City, to where waters like green jade flow round the temple of Shu Yü.|| We launched our boat and sported on the stream, while flutes and drums sounded. The little waves were like dragon-scales, and the sedge-leaves were pale green. When it was our mood, we took girls with us and gave ourselves to the moments that passed, forgetting that it would soon be over, like willow-flowers or snow. Rouged faces, flushed with drink, looked well in the sunset. Clear water a hundred feet deep reflected the faces of the singers singing-girls delicate and graceful in the light of the young moon. And the girls sang again and again to make the gauze dresses dance. The clear wind blew the songs away into the empty sky : the sound coiled in the air like moving clouds in flight. 

The pleasures of those times shall never again be met with. I went West to offer up a Ballad of Tall Willows,* but got no promotion at the Northern Gate and, white-headed, went back to the Eastern Hills. 

Once we met at the Southern end of Wei Bridge, but scattered again to the north of the Tso Terrace. 

And if you ask me how many are my regrets at this parting, I will tell you they come from me thick as the flowers that fall at Spring's end. 

But I cannot tell you all I feel ; I could not even if I went on talking for ever. So I call in the boy and make him kneel here and tie this up, and send it to you, a remembrance, from a thousand miles away. 


t Lit. " blue clouds people." A phrase from Chuang Tzu. 

Huai-nan is associated with laurel-branches, owing to a famous poem by the King of Huai-nan. 

II Name of a mountain. 

* J.e., Hu Tzu-yang, a Taoist friend of the poet's. 

t Lit. " Feeding on sunset-cloud " Tower, built by Hu Tzu-yang. 

I I.e., T'ai-yüan Fu. I.e., T'ai-yüan Fu. 

|| A brother of Prince Ch'ēng, of the Chou dynasty. 

* Yang Hsiung, died A.D. 18, having lived all his life in obscurity, obtained promotion in his old age by a poem of this title. 


(Part of a Poem in Irregular Metre. ) 

On through the night I flew, high over the Mirror Lake. 

The lake-moon cast my shadow on the waves and travelled 

with me to the stream of Shan. The Lord Hsieh's f 

lodging-place was still there. The blue waters rippled ; 

the cry of the apes was shrill. I shod my feet with the 

shoes of the Lord Hsieh and '' climbed to Heaven on a 

ladder of dark clouds." J Half-way up, I saw the unrisen 

sun hiding behind the sea and heard the Cock of Heaven 

crowing in the sky. By a thousand broken paths I twisted 

and turned from crag to crag. My eyes grew dim. I 

clutched at the rocks, and all was dark. 

The roaring of bears and the singing of dragons echoed 

amid the stones and streams. The darkness of deep woods 

made me afraid. I trembled at the storied cliffs. 

The clouds hung dark, as though they would rain ; the 

air was dim with the spray of rushing waters. 

Lightning flashed : thunder roared. Peaks and ridges 

tottered and broke. Suddenly the walls of the hollow 

where I stood sundered with a crash, and I looked down on 

a bottomless void of blue, where the sun and moon gleamed 

on a terrace of silver and gold. 

A host of Beings descended Cloud-spirits, whose coats 

were made of rainbow and the horses they rode on were the winds. 


f Hsieh Ling-yün (area A.D. 400) was a famous mountain-climber who invented special mountain-climbing shoes. 

\ A quotation from one of Hsieh's poems. 


The wind blowing through the willow-flowers fills the shop with scent ; 

A girl of Wu has served wine and bids the traveller taste. 

The young men of Nanking have come to see me off; 

I that go and you that stay must each drink his cup. 

I beg you tell the Great River whose stream flows to the East 

That thoughts of you will cling to my heart when he has ceased to flow. 


Clear as the sky the waters of Hupeh 

Far away will join with the Blue Sea ; 

We whom a thousand miles will soon part 

Can mend our grief only with a cup of wine. 

The valley birds are singing in the bright sun ; 

The river monkeys wail down the evening wind. 

And I, who in all my life have seldom wept, 

Am weeping now with tears that will never dry. 


Wading at dawn the White River's source, 

Severed a while from the common ways of men, 

To islands tinged with the colours of Paradise, 

Where the river sky drowns in limpid space. 

While my eyes were watching the clouds that travel to the sea. 

My heart was idle as the fish that swim in the stream. 

With long singing I put the sun to rest: 

Riding the moon,* came back to my fields and home. 


* I.e., " availing myself of the moonlight." 


(Literal Version.} 

Regret that dropping sun's dusk ; 

Love this cold stream's clearness. 

Western beams follow flowing water ; 

Stir a ripple in wandering person's mind. 

Idly sing, gazing at cloudy moon ; 

Song done sound of tall pines. 


At dusk we left the blue mountain-head ; 

The mountain-moon followed our homeward steps. 

We looked round : the path by which we had come 

Was a dark cleft across the shoulder of the hill. 

Hand in hand we reached the walls of the farm ; 

A young boy opened the wicker-gate. 

Through green bamboos a deep road ran 

Where dark creepers brushed our coats as we passed. 

We were glad at last to come to a place of rest, 

With wine enough to drink together to our fill, 

Long I sang to the tune of the Pine-tree Wind ; 

When the song was over, the River-stars* were few. 

/ was drunk and you happy at my side ; 

Till mingled joy drove the World from our hearts. 


* Stars of the Milky Way.

\ The Milky Way. 


(1) A cup of wine, under the flowering-trees : 

I drink alone, for no friend is near. 

Raising my cup, I beckon the bright moon, 

For he, with my shadow, will make three men. 

The moon, alas ! is no drinker of wine : 

Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side. 

Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave 

I must make merry before the Spring is spent. 

To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams ; 

In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks. 

While we were sober, three shared the fun ; 

Now we are drunk, each goes his way. 

May we long share our odd, inanimate feast, 

And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the Sky.f 

(2) In the third month the town of Hsien-yang 

Is thick-spread with a carpet of fallen flowers. 

Who in Spring can bear to grieve alone ? 

Who, sober, look on sights like these ? 

Riches and Poverty, long or short life, 

By the Maker of Things are portioned and disposed. 

But a cup of wine levels life and death 

And a thousand things obstinately hard to prove. 

When I am drunk, I lose Heaven and Earth ; 

Motionless, I cleave to my lonely bed. 

At last I forget that I exist at all, 

And at that moment my joy is great indeed. 

(3) If High Heaven had no love for wine, 

There would not be a Wine Star in the sky. 

If Earth herself had no love for wine, 

There would not be a city called Wine Springs.* 

Since Heaven and Earth both love wine, 

I can love wine, without shame before God. 

Clear wine was once called " a Saint ;" 

Thick wine was once called "a Sage." j 

Of Saint and Sage I have long quaffed deep, 

What need for me to study spirits and hsien ?\ 

At the third cup I penetrate the Great Way ; 

A full gallon Nature and I are one. . . . 

But the things I feel when wine possesses my soul 

I will never tell to those who are not drunk. 


* Chiu-ch'üan, in Kansuh. 

t "History of Wei Dynasty" (Life of Hsu Mo): "A drunken visitor said, ' Clear wine I account a Saint : thick wine only a Sage.' " 

| Rishi, Immortals. 


Gently I stir a white feather fan, 

With open shirt, sitting in a green wood. 

I take off my cap and hang it on a jutting stone : 

A wind from the pine-trees trickles on my bare head. 


Two men drinking together where mountain flowers grow : 

One cup, one cup, and again one cup. 

" Now I am drunk and would like to sleep : 

so please go away. 

Come back to-morrow, if you feel inclined, 

and bring your harp with you/' 


" Life in the World is but a big dream : 

I will not spoil it by any labour or care." 

So saying, I was drunk all the day, 

Lying helpless at the porch in front of my door. 

When I woke up, I blinked at the garden lawn ; 

A lonely bird was singing amid the flowers. 

I asked myself, had the day been wet or fine ? 

The Spring wind was telling the mango-bird. 

Moved by its song, I soon began to sigh, 

And as wine was there, I filled my own cup. 

Wildly singing, I waited for the moon to rise, 

When my song was over, all my senses had gone. 


I sat drinking and did not notice the dusk, 

Till falling petals filled the folds of my dress. 

Drunken I rose and walked to the moonlit stream ; 

The birds were gone, and men also few. 


My friend is lodging high in the Eastern Range, 

Dearly loving the beauty of valleys and hills. 

At Green Spring he lies in the empty woods ; 

And is still asleep when the sun shines on high. 

A pine-tree wind dusts his sleeves and coat ; 

A pebbly stream cleans his heart and ears. 

I envy you, who far from strife and talk 

Are high-propped on a pillow of blue cloud. 


The fields are chill ; the sparse rain has stopped ; 

The colours of Spring teem on every side. 

With leaping fish the blue pond is full ; 

With singing thrushes the green boughs droop. 

The flowers of the field have dabbled their powdered cheeks; 

The mountain grasses are bent level at the waist. 

By the bamboo stream the last fragments of cloud 

Blown by the wind slowly scatter away. 

[Many of the above poems have been translated before, 

in some cases by three or four different hands. But III. 4, 

III. 26, XV. 2, and XXIII. 9 are, so far as I know, 

translated for the first time.]