Wednesday, June 13, 2012


A Poem, from Grain of Rice Mountain,
for Tu Fu

Here, on top of a grain of rice (or of a mountain
----so named),
I've run into you, Tu Fu, again!
And you in a hat as big as a plate, big enough to
----keep off the whole noonday sun.
All I can say is it looks like you're losing weight.
Is poetry so bitter, so bitter, my friend?

Question and Answer in the Mountains

Ask me how it is I've come to perch in these
----blue-green hills,
and I'll smile with
no answer; I'm happiest with
----heart-and-mind just so, may be. . .
Peach blossom float by here, gone into the
----quite definite shadows.
There is another world, other than this one we
----choose to live in.

I Banish Me

Face to face with the wine:
eyes shut, or shutting, unconscious
of darkness,

while the falling petals filled the bowl,
the lap of my gown. . .

Still drunk, I got up, to walk on the moon
in the water. . .

The birds had all gone to nest;
humans, also, had grown few.

Thoughts of a Quiet Night

Before the bed, bright moon light.
I took it for frost on the ground.
I raised my head to think of the moon,
then bowed my head to dream of home.


The white bird settles on the Autumn waters,
flies alone, settles like a snowflake.
Heart, mind, set. ready:
won't go yet.
We stand alone beside the sandy islet.

Summit Temple

This night, in Summit Temple,
I raise my hand and touch the stars.
I wouldn't dare to raise my voice,
for fear I'd wake them, up in Heaven.

Alone, I Pour at Clear Creek River — Rock,
and Write to Send to Ch'uan Chao-yi

Bottle in hand,
I climb out on this great rock.
Since Heaven and Earth began
it's stood a thousand feet above the water.
I raise my cup and smile at the sky,
and the Heavens whirl until the sun shines out
----of the West!
I could sit here on this rock forever!
hanging my hook like the wise men of old.
At least I'll send this to those who came before
----me here:
may the music I make, make harmony with

Overnight with a Friend

To bathe, to let float away the griefs of a
----thousand ages,
and then to drown
in a hundred jugs of wine.
A pretty night, perfect for talk, for
and a moon so bright. What sort of man could
Finally, finally really drunk, we slept
in the open, on the mountainside,
Heaven and Earth, our covers, our pillows.

Thoughts of a Quiet Night, Version 2

Pool of cold, pure light, bright on the floor
before the bed. "Can it be frost," I shivered.
Before I realized, twice bright as frost, it was the
own light come streaming through the window
made the window's image purest white of
on my floor. I raised up, to regard the moon, to
----see it, sure, and
read its meaning: this too will slip away. And
----then I bowed,
I bowed my head, my heart hope filled again,
----full of the bright moonlight
on the green, green grass of home.

please click on image to enlarge

Bright Moon, White Clouds
selected poems of Li Po
edited and translated by
J.P. Seaton
Shambhala 2012